Yet Another Shoulder Season

posted Feb 28, 2015, 10:32 AM by Richard Sevenich

In the warmer months I sea kayak and bicycle; while in the colder season I either skate ski or downhill ski. This schedule generates two shoulder seasons, where I long for the next active season to begin. This winter in North Idaho was the worst for skiing that I've seen in my time here, nearly 40 years. So here I'm stuck – occasional walks/hikes and even biking if warm enough. The shoulder season is way too early this year.

The ski area (Schweitzer) remains open, by dint of semi-extraordinary effort on management's part. At least it has been cold enough to make snow for the lower mountain. Today there are 19 of 92 runs groomed. The rest of the mountain is too icy to ski; the whole back bowl is closed. No new snow, cold temperatures, and gusty winds at the top – not attractive to this septuagenarian, who wants powder not corduroy. We did ski in the sun and then have beer and a burger, still in the sun, last week.

Our lake (Pend Oreille), currently at ~38 degrees Fahrenheit, is about 10 feet below normal summer pool level. It is drawn down each winter, sometimes by 5' but more often by 10'. As a result, many launch sites are still icy, boot sucking mud. My preferred launch is near enough that I can roll my kayak there, but launching would not be feasible. At roughly half way to full pool level, my launch site becomes usable. So I wait – probably until late April. So hiking and biking it is.

I've tinkered with the kayaks and the only significant remaining task is to refurbish the keel strips with epoxy where needed. I'll wash them when it's warm enough, scouring out the spiders, raccoons, chickens, and moose. Carelessly, I forgot to put on the cockpit covers last fall. Then I'll apply some 303 for UV protection. Maybe I'll put the Karitek kayak rack back on the car – then I could go down to City Beach and roll the kayak across the desert-like expanse of sand to the water. Perhaps there I could avoid the boot sucking mud. Of course, if I mount the kayak rack, winter will return.

So I wait.