Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bird Flu, Blue Jello, and the Grandview Ski Train

The alarm went off at 4:45, we packed food and beer together and headed to the Anchorage Train Depot for the Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage's annual Grandview Ski Train.

The ski train takes skiers and snowboarders to Grandview Pass, one pass over from Turnagain pass. There is no other access to the pass besides a long snowmachine ride so its as close to wilderness as you can get with 500 other drunk skiers and a ten-car train.

Partying starts upon boarding the train at 7:30 and lasts until arrival at the pass. One group brought two plastic kiddie pools full of blue vodka jello (one for the ride there, one for the ride home). Teeny kept reminding us that someone was inevitably going to get bird flu as the spoons used to eat the jello were passed around more and more.

The skiing was decent: the snow was really nice as we skinned higher onto the east side of the pass, but the visibility decreased rapidly and there were some true "white room" moments when you could not tell whether the ground was coming up to you or going down away from you. If you kept loose and maintained speed, you could fake your way through the white cloud.

We stopped for lunch on a glacier near the top of the pass. We only realized it was a glacier after Andrea strayed from the group for a bathroom break, commenting on the way back, "What are all these big holes?" They turned out to be crevasses and we stayed clear of further glacier skiing.

Ray had been on the Grandview trip many times and expertly guided us to some great skiing terrain.

The way home was much more rowdy than the way there (when most of the people in our party slept). The jello and beer was flowing and the trip culminated with people sticking their faces directly into the "bird flu" times.

Did I mention the train had a roving polka band?

Coming up this weekend, the Tour of Anchorage! Andrea is skiing the 40K and I am skiing the 50K.


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