Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Thanksgiving Camp 2018

Well that was nice.  I've seen some pretty great Thanksgiving skiing at Foret over the last 11 years, but this year was the best ever.  It started snowing up there a few weeks ago, and I guess it just never really stopped - so much snow!  We got to experience some of that snow fresh from the sky on the Tuesday evening drive up - that was exciting, especially since it was my first time out with our beautiful new trailer.  Leslie's late van got the worst of it, but she was a hero and powered through safely.  Next morning we awoke to a vast stretch of white with remarkably good tracks.  All this snow changed the nature of the camp a bit.  Most years we have a nice 2k loop with maybe a little rock skiing on the roads, so we end up doing endless laps and a ton of technique work.  That's great, but when you have miles and miles of roads and trails to stretch out on, you have to forget the filming and get out there.  Which we did.

Day 1:  Classic exploration in the morning, ripping the roy on skate skis in the afternoon.  We did a nice downhill skills session on some super fun technical turns - our team is pretty solid on downhills, but it was interesting to see some fundamental weaknesses exposed here.  Also some strengths - turns out that Perrin is a downhill hero.  We made some good progress and learned some new tools - there are definitely some things we'll keep working on.  First cook group stepped up to the plate and produced a hearty meal of risotto, spinach salad, and bread sticks, preceded by a classy fruit and cheese plate and finished with a delicious strawberry shortcake topped with cream that had been lovingly whipped by hand.

Day 2:  Froid.  Really froid.  We covered up and went out for another nice long classic tour.  There was a frantic flurry of Thanksgiving cooking before and after our PM skate workout.  This was one of our smoothest Thanksgiving meals ever - Elliot is pretty much a turkey expert now, and everyone else displayed remarkable competence with their meals as well (thanks largely to Leslie's presence as kitchen consultant).  The final result was outstanding.  This is always a special day for our team - we have so much to be thankful for, and even though it's always hard to be away from family, it was so nice to share this meal with such a special group of people.

Day 3:  Less cold.  More classic skiing!  Some good technique work and good progress made.  After lunch we had to switch over to new lodging since our beautiful Boreal was booked for the weekend - no big deal once we got settled in.  That afternoon we previewed the time trial course despite not knowing exactly what it was.  Next cook group stepped up to the plate with a fine curry over rice, green beans, and warm berries on ice cream.

Day 4:  Time trial!  5/10k skate with several other college teams and some local biathletes.  We're focused on being race-ready for January, and that showed in our results - nothing special, but we'll get there.  All three first-years skied over their heads and put up some very competitive finishes - nice showing for their first time wearing the Bowdoin suit.  It was a good tuneup and a good learning experience - plenty of stuff to work on in the coming weeks.  That afternoon we decompressed with one of the most amazing classic skis any of us have ever had - a long loop on a remote trail that most of us had never skied, with tons of climbing and absolutely stunning views of the frosted boreal landscape with the first hints of sunset in the sky.  On the way down from the high point we formed some mini-trains and got going shockingly fast - fun times.  Saw a moose, ripped some turns, and had a great great final night at camp.  The last cook group swung for the fences with an ambitious attempt at French-Italian fusion cuisine:  pasta puttanesca, potatoes au gratin, spinach salad, and cake with lemon curd and whipped cream.  Good stuff.

Day 5:  Sadly, there was no final morning ski at Foret.  With threatening weather closing in, we decided to sprint out of town and head home early to beat the storm.  This was a good choice - looks like we missed a lot of freezing rain from Quebec City to Jackman.  As it was we still drove through some snow in western Maine, but no big deal.  As a consolation prize, we stopped at Quarry Road for a short ski before completing the trip - it was nothing like Foret, but any snow time in November is like gold.

Overall, this was an amazing camp - we couldn't have asked for better conditions, and we certainly took full advantage of them.  Now it's time for a rest - time to sleep off all that training and get schoolwork sorted out before the final push to exams!

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