I brought the horses in, fed and watered them, started the beet pulp to soak, then stepped into my skis and headed off down the pasture fence line. Climbing over the fence was no problem, but the knee-deep snow bank on the other side surprised me. There's still A LOT OF snow out there! It's a short hike from the property to the Orris Falls trail head. What I wouldn't give to have this right in my back yard. No cars in the parking lot promised me a quiet adventure on my own as the sun slid behind the trees. At 6:30, there's still sunlight hitting the hilltops, but the lower reaches of the trail were enveloped in a greenish gloom from the dense hemlock forest. I figured I still had about an hour's worth of light for my evening ski.
The quiet woods surrounded me; my breathing, and the shushing of my skis the only sounds. By now, birds had gone to roost. I hoped to see deer, but the noise of my skis in the icy snow would probably keep them well hidden. This time of year, the deer blend in so well with the grey tree trunks and shadows, I have to peer into the woods carefully to see them.
I decided to go at least as far as the bridge over the brook. No one had skied or snowshoed up to Big Bump, and that would entail breaking trail the entire way--not enough time for that! Most of the snow was gone from the bridge, so I decided to make it the turnaround spot. I noticed ski tracks heading off along the brook to the falls and decided to take that route home.
The water was rushing under the bridge making a loud roar down in the chasm--another reason to go home via the falls.
Once I realized I had descended too steeply and had now reached the chasm floor, I backtracked. I didn't know where the other skier's tracks led to, so decided to get back onto the main trail. Rather than herringbone up the steep slope, I opted to take off the skis and hike through the woods up to the trail. At this point, I noticed a hot spot developing on my right heel. I remembered having issues with these boots two years ago. Well, I'd left without any first aid kit--it was only a short jaunt down the trail--so I had no alternative but wince with each step and get back to the barn. It only bothered me climbing, and most of the ski back was downhill or flat. I could tough it out.
By the time I got back out to the road, it was 7:15. I'd had a good workout--one that broke a sweat--and enjoyed the woods all to myself. Finally, back on the skis again!
Back at the barn, I could hear Harley cribbing. The girls were snoozing, and though I hated to disturb them, I doled out the beet pulp to everyone's joy. All the horses tucked into their treat as I shut out lights, packed up ski equipment and passed out the last bit of carrot.
|Orris Falls chasm|