I've managed to make a bit of an escape this afternoon—from meeting numerous deadlines—to get a bit more cross-country skiing in before (hopefully!) heading to Japan.
What started as heavy snow and fog, testing my endurance, finished with brilliant sunshine, making me wish I could stay a little longer.
Always a little longer...
This weekend in smartphone photography: I test my Russianness yet again by cross-country skiing into a snow storm. (Both Vladimir Putin and I use the same PR agency, in case you haven't noticed. Just kidding!)
Backcountry skiing in the Rocky Mountains involves living on the edge.
Initially, the sky was as azure as it would have been at the height of summer. The dogs followed me along with their usual circling and play-fighting, and the only sign of the impending storm was the wind growing ever stronger.
Even though this year marks my return to cross-country skiing for the first time since high school, I already have my favorites. Breaking through freshly fallen, virgin snow is one of them.
And the shadows.
As is often the case in the mountains, the weather change occurred rapidly, with the insurgent and menacing storm clouds inadvertently (or deliberately) making the Sun look almost fairy-tale-like.
At times, you could see the exact boundary in the heavenly battle above, while risking falling onto one of the dogs, who somehow always ended up too close to my skis.
And the dogs themselves? After about an hour, they decided that my Russianness had been tested sufficiently and convinced me to go home.
Just in time.
My (awkward!) return to cross-country skiing—after years and years—is beginning to resemble open-water swimming in the summer that now seems a lifetime ago. I am, of course, speaking atmospherically in reference to those days when the Moonrise coincides with the Sunset making one feel more connected to Nature than usual and, at the same time, like an insignificant, albeit conscious speck of dust in the great, wide Cosmos.
Of course, such distraction of the senses makes a novice skier lose a bit (a lot) of control! (Also, it's probably not the best idea to take smartphone pictures while exercising. ) One such moment suddenly brought me back to my childhood.
My elementary-school classmates and I were participating in a cross-country skiing gym class at Sparrow (Lenin's) Hills in Moscow. The tracks resembled an ice rink making me unable to stop on a down turn.
As a result, you guessed it, I rammed into a tree!
Just like a cartoon character.
Only it was real, a bit painful, and "a lot "embarrassing.
Now, don't you go starting rumors that this childhood incident is the real reason for my lengthy break from this wonderful sport!
This week in smartphone photography, it felt like exactly 3.5 degrees above absolute zero in "Twin Peaks" on the weekend (much like the rest of the continent, mind you). Naturally, this aspiring Russian Barbarian picked up the new cross-country skis and headed into the mountains for a rather, how shall we say, refreshing pre-sunset hour of continuing to re-learn this delightfully endurance-oriented sport.
Evidently, the scenery--and the overly excited canine friends--was distracting enough. I've got bruises and mobile photos to prove it!
Next time, you should come out, too, if only to laugh at my learning mishaps.
What did I do on New Year's day?
I am glad you asked!
First, I became the Empress of Eurasia:
Second, I took up cross-country skiing for the first time in many years.
Third, I came across some animal prints likely belonging to a mountain lion. (I'm no expert, but I did consult some guide books and websites as compared to the shape and size of the print being around 3.5 inches wide.)
Most important, I've had wine--very good red wine!