First Poto Attempt---lessons learned
I finally beat off weaks of bad colds and other glitches and got down and skied a loop of the big, tough 17-mile SE Michigan Potawatami mtbike trail.
What a great day!
There was 4" of fresh snow on top of 3" of pretty fresh stuff. It was sunny, 25F. Perfect!
My first lesson---which I learned only when I got home---was that my tiny digicam is broken. What's with all the red pics? (I should've reviewed them on trail but then the battery goes dead... Old junk.)
Right away on my attempt I realized that I had blown it. I was starting too late, at 1pm. Rats. This is a loop that takes 3-5 hours. You really don't want to be doing the last, tough, wobbly hour (or two!) in low-slanting light and fast chilling air.
After I realized I had bit off more than I could chew, I decided to skip the northernmost hour portion of the trail and took a Shortcut. This went past the nifty yurt campsite on the system. It overlooks a lake. Looks sweet! I wonder how to rent it...
I figured I went 12 miles in about 3.5 hours. A fine time it was. I was really cookin' during my third quarter of the day, in a great groove.
I skied half of the day on deep unbroken snow. I hadn't done so much trail-breaking lately. It occurred to me with strong clarity that trail-breaking is like playing volleyball on the beach compared to in a gym. Or like running in soft sand compared to running on a trail. Yep! It seems only obvious but one is tempted to think of skis just gliding and floating through the snow. Sometimes...
It seemed like nowax skis would've worked just as good out there as my waxables. They surely wouldn't've made any extra 'buzzing' noise---which is what I hat about nowaxers. But I spent a half hour stopping and rewaxing, trying to figure out what worked. I think this is common in longer daytour outings. I've read that this stop-start rewax syndrome truly can totally erase the advantage of waxables. In the end, I might've gone too soft/long on the wax, but getting it just right would've taken another 20 minutes. So I went with good enough. On a steep up'n'down trail like this climbing is what you want. And a little less speed on the downhills was welcome---with all those rocks and roots just mysterious humps til my skis hit them.
On a long outing, bring more meat'n'cheese. I had plenty of cookie-type and gel-type powersnacks. I still got wobbly. I felt best in the hour after scarfing a sausage HotPocket! : ) A local guy, handle RadNord, who skis long out here a lot figures 2 pizza slices for this loop. Mostly, I think the gels just aren't enough. Really, the wheels started falling off near the end. I'd like to figure out how to go solidly for 4+ hrs. It would be great if better food would do the trick! Hopefully it's not anything annoying like "have to build up better for long days."
Another lesson: don't carry more than 5 lbs in a modest fanny pack. I ended up with 10 lbs. TOO MUCH! I had several pounds of unneeded extra clothes. Forget that!!! The weight thru my hips off and vexed them somewhat. It was bad. I appreciated going through the snacks and water that I brought, which brought my pack weight down to normal. If you need more than 5 lbs, bring a narrow Camelback type pack for it.
I got quite sweaty out there. I was perfectly dressed, really---without a hat. A wool tee would've been better than the wool LS I had under my wool hunting shirt.
One big bike water bottle (21 oz) per 2 hours would be cutting it close for those conditions. Maybe drink a dosed bottle just before the outing. If you'll be out there for 5 hard hours, you definitely need more than 2 bottles.
Having a beer ready for when you're done is a dandy idea. Plus snacks and electro-water. And dry clothes. (But I didn't really miss the dry clothes.)
I noted while skiing this tricky trail in the deep stuff that a hinged cuff boot would be a great idea to provide more support/control. (Just watch out on the overall weight of the boot.)
I also recently noted that the NNN Auto bindings that I'm using have a good bit of SLOP and PLAY in them. VERY BAD! It feels like a 1/4" at the binding. I have older manual race bindings on my rollerskis---I tested them: NO slop! This is critical for good ski control. I'm ditching those autos.
My little old digicam is apparently dead---it took all red pics. It's been doing that more'n'more lately and now won't quit.
I've seen $100 all-weather helmet vidcam with mount. I wonder if it does decent stills. What might be best is to have 2 cams, front'n'back---then go out with a pal and you can get face shots / frontals. Or else just turn your helmet around (if possible) from time to time. I also had an idea for solo filmers to do what kayak filmers do---have a chest socket and a couple lines so you can put the cam out on a stick and shoot yourself. On the boats they have it rigged so the mast can be guyed out any which way. Hmmm... Funny is as funny does... Someone has to be a scientist, right?
Last notes: *A nice outfit is preferable. My current dialed-in setup is a little too hillbilly. C'mon, I should be able to do nordic. Working on it... *Use gaiters if you'll break trail---I do have some half-cloth gaiters around here, but all-cloth is best. Don't need no stinking coated nylon to sweat/ice up. *Use gloves that resist snow-wet. I have Rossi midweights with fake leather. You cannot touch snow with these or they're WET! So I had to be very careful all day. When I got to the car I touched a piece of snow--and they were sopped! If I had crashed and put a hand down on the trail that would've been it for those gloves. *Bring spares for fixing pole or ski. I'm thinking 2 thin metal plates, filed thin on leading edge, with bolt holes and flush bolts would work to repair a ski. I see that Akers has a 57mm spare ski tip, $20... I also carry a full emergency kit...but I should've had a headlamp instead of just minilight. Leatherman, SAK, duct-tape, zipties, moleskin, bandaids, aspirin, etc.---all impt to have.