So I’m sitting here enjoying our unusually warm weather with a cold beer and the satellite radio playing.  Thank the technogeeks for inventing satellite radio.  The local stuff is so incredibly bad I haven’t tuned into the FM band in years.  There are only so many songs in the top 40 playlists (40 of ’em to be exact) and there are only so many times you can hear the same ones.  The SO bought me an iPhone not too long ago, bless her heart, and I have that loaded up as well.  Keeps me semi-sane while driving amongst the uneducated masses.  She’s not too keen on my….oh, let’s call it eclectic….taste in music.  (Thanks, Mike Kinney!)   I mean,  how can you not like jazz?  Or new age? Or 80’s slammin’ heavy metal?   It’s a long row to hoe, but eventually I’ll get her off that pop-tarty hip hop lite she subjects me to.

I’m finally catching up after the holidays.  Spent a great Christmas weekend up at the cabin.  As long as I’ve lived in cold snowy climes, you’d reckon I may have driven a snowmachine (snowmobile to you southerners, but it’s my blog so it’s gonna be snowmachine.  Nyah) at least once or twice.  Nope.  So there I was, on one of her old machines, going at the speed of smell through the backcountry and loving it.  What a riot!  We were running along a trapline trail helping out the line’s owner break trail.  I was Number 4 in an 7 ship ’cause ‘m the rookie and no one wanted to have to come back to find me when, not if, I got hung up along the way.   I think all told we ended up going about 40 miles or so between leaving the cabin, joining up at the Angel Creek Lodge, and back.  There are some gorgeous spots out there and I left my camera at the cabin.  Naturally.

The weather was crystal clear, not too cold, maybe a few degrees below zero.  Part of the trail runs on the West Fork of the Chena River.  It’s still early and even with a couple weeks of -20 and colder, the river’s not solidly frozen all the way along it.  To say there were a few “interesting” moments during the ride is putting it fairly well accurately.  

We have about 3 hours or so of good sun above the hills this time of year and it gets dark early.  Not an issue, that’s why they have headlights on the sleds.  There I was, number 4 again, and we come to a river crossing.  It’s dark, we’re tired, there are cold beer’s calling me and we have 10 miles yet to go.  The lead guy is poking along at a nice easy pace, gets right across and up the far bank.  Two and Three did a little damage to the ice.  Enough so that had I been right on Three’s tail light, I’d have been a bit damp. There was about 8 inches between the top of the water and the bottom of the ice. It’s a river and the level fluctuates a bit.  Getting across the water wasn’t the issue; it was only 8 inches or so deep.  The issue is getting the tips of the skis on top of the ice.  Fail that and Mr. Newton’s First Law gets a wonderfully graphic demonstration.

This was about the 20th or so crossing of the day, but by far the worst one.  Number Five was my SO (a few years more experienced than I) and Six and Seven are long time riders.  They come blasting up at Warp 10 and jump on the binders when they see me and the SO scratching our heads through our brain buckets.  They take one quick look and it’s “Follow me and give ‘er hell…”  I swear that’s exactly what the guy said.  So I did.

I’m not sure how I got across the ice.  My eyes were closed the entire way and I had a death grip on the throttle.  All I know is it worked, I didn’t crunch anything, and I even managed to miss the lead guys on the other side.  

I have to admit there’s an engineer inside me just dying to get out and I tend to read the directions first.  There isn’t a book anywhere for this kind of stuff.  It all comes with experience.  I have no idea at what RPM the motor in the sled scatters itself across the firmament and I don’t really want to know.  I did, however, have that little engine screaming like a dog on a ham slicer. Kudos to the gang at Arctic Cat.  

Number Two has a cabin a few miles from the SO’s and we finished the day there.  Nice place if you can call a house with a cedar wood fired hot tub on the deck a “cabin”.  Nothing like a good long soak, a couple of frosty carbonated adult malt beverages, and good friends after a day like that.  Two’s missus wimped out on the trip; said it was too cold for her.  That wasn’t a bad thing.

She had the hot tub fired up when we got back!  I’m gonna remember her in my will!


2 Responses to “Sleddin’”

  1. 1 Pat Pranitis January 12, 2010 at 6:29 am

    This one scared the stew out of me……I just saw your guardian angel on Route 81S with a suitcase in her hand, thumbing a ride to warmer climes! She’s quitting after this wild ride.

  2. 2 Da Goddess January 22, 2010 at 6:21 am

    You definitely need either more booze in your system or a steady supply of guardian angels.

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