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Seven words for snow

Well, probably many of you have heard about how there are many different words for snow in Eskimo languages. I actually just looked it up on Wikipedia, and it turns out to be not exactly true. I have to say, I’m a little disappointed because this year, I’ve come to realize just how inconsistent snow can be. I really think I’ve been skiing on at least seven different kinds of snow. I guess this isn’t really a major revelation — cross country skiers are always waxing for different snow conditions and temperatures, but it’s still kind of amazing.

For instance, we started off the season having to break trail through powdery snow. It wasn’t fast, and there weren’t any snowmobile tracks yet to ski on for faster going. Then, after it snowed some more, the conditions were perfect — not crusty or icy, just a light and powdery top layer which made it easy to turn going down hills. Then, the snow got a little hard and crusty on the top — making it much faster and harder to control the skis when going down hill.

Up until this point, it was impossible to go off either a groomed trail or a snowmobile trail because you would just sink down and have to break trail in the woods. But, that all changed earlier this week when conditions were just right to allow us to go wherever our hearts desired in and amongst the trees. We got a lot of rain last weekend, which compacted the snow down. Then, we got sleet, and then it finished with a few inches of snow. Somehow, the rain and the sleet hardened the bottom part of the snow so that you no longer sunk through, but could float around on the top layer. Then, the snow covered the top with a perfect layer of light snow, which meant we weren’t skiing on a sheet of ice. It was literally heaven gliding through the woods.

Of course, we should have known that the snow was likely to change again, which it did as we were out on this glorious ski through the woods. It was a relatively warm day, and the sun was really warming up the snow it touched, making that snow ball up on the bottom of our skis. Soon, we had to change our skiing tactics to try and only ski in the shadows of the trees. It was sort of like trying to avoid stepping on a crack when you were a little kid. I loved it though — nothing beats a beautiful snow covered forest ground on a sunny, warm day in March!


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