It doesn't take much time from the sight of the first yellow tree to start dreaming of waist deep powdery snow. I love skiing, but with my fall excitement comes a healthy dose of apprehension because, well, skiing is hard. When I first tried Nordic skiing, I thought I could jump right in with my running fitness and float down the trail. In reality, that couldn't be further from the truth. Since I backcountry skied in college, I thought I would do that instead. Unfortunately, that was also hard. College included backpacking nearly every weekend, so while I moved slower than running, I was used to carrying extra weight. Later focusing all my efforts onto running made me a better runner, but a worse skier.
After that taste of cross country skiing my first winter here, I decided to stick with running. Sometime during the years of dating and marrying a professional skier, I decided I should learn to ski. Finally, I took the time one winter to stick with it enough to improve so that by the end of the season, I could skate or classic ski for at least an hour without feeling like my arms would fall off. The following winters included one being pregnant, and then moving back to Seattle where I could run all winter again, which did not include much skiing.
All of that is to say that as I start seeing snow in the mountains, I know what's coming: tired arms and burning legs. To mitigate the damage, I'm back to weight training in our garage, but honestly, strength workouts bore me and I don't like being inside.
I do however, like a certain specific strength workout held outside: hiking with Fiona. Truth be told, I don't do it often. Sam happily takes her when we go as a family, which slows him down enough to only be a few minutes ahead of me at any given point. But when a friend wanted to find larches and was heading to Maple Pass, I took the opportunity to get some vert with some weight (i.e. Fiona) while catching up. Carrying ten to twenty percent of one's body weight is a good general rule of thumb for this workout, but since she weighs about 35 pounds, I was over. Oh well-ha! Maple pass is a great seven mile loop in which you either go up a gradual trail and down a steep one, or vice versa. We opted for going up the steep way, which I much prefer. HELLO GLUTES!
It was fantastic, if tiring, training, on par with doing box steps-ups for an hour and a half. Whew-a ski pack will be nothing in comparison (which I guess is the point)! And until Fiona stops growing (yeah, right), I'll get more benefit each time I taker her! Once again, the larches were out in full force, contrasting against red leaves and evergreens. If you haven't gotten out to see some larches yet, GO!