Stories From Stanley, Idaho

Cruising the Crust

Cruising the Crust

There is a thing that sometimes happens here in the spring.  Everything is still covered in a thick and hardy layer of snow but spring is peeking through. The days get into the 40s, 50s, maybe even 60s. The nights still dip way down into the teens.

When this happens.  When there is a lot of snow and a steady increase then decrease in temperatures, Mother Nature gives all who dapple in the world of skate skiing a wonderful gift.

We call it “crust cruising”. The warm days melt the snow surface.  The cold nights freeze them solid. And suddenly any and all snowy surfaces lay out smooth and fast and open. One can literally skate ski for miles, haphazardly in any and every direction.

When this happens, it feels like magic. It feels like a miracle. It is a precious reminder to my winter-weary self not to turn to dirt just yet. This snow still has a lot more to offer.

Crust cruising doesn’t necessarily happen every year. Last winter, the weather went from snow to torrential rain. The rain made the snow surface pocketed which made it really hard to skate ski.

It takes a gradual transition. An ease from winter to spring.

Sometimes this ease can be hard to stomach. Sometimes I just want winter to be over and the trails to be dry and my running shoes to be out and in use. Sometimes I look up at those big beautiful mountains and plead for the thaw to be over and done with.

During these times, I forget just how glorious crust cruising is. Thank goodness Mother Nature pays us lowly humans no mind!

There is another part of crust cruising that makes it even more elusive, even more magical. The window to do it is short. Not just the seasonal window but the daily window. One must get out there when it’s still cold outside. One must beat the sun.

By around noon, or earlier as summer draws nearer, the sun really ramps its rays. At first it makes the snow even better. It gives it just a little bit of cushion. But then those skinny skis started to sink. And then the cruising is over.

Yesterday, I spent the early morning with two friends cruising the crust. We skied side by side, swerving, circling, climbing, dipping. We skied through the vast meadows that, in another couple months will be covered in wildflowers. We skied up steep hills. We skied on top of moraines. It was sunny and there were birds everywhere and the snow was fast and easy.

Near the end of our cruise, we skied by sandhill crane territory. We heard them call and stopped. Down by a creek, there were two cranes facing each other. As we watched, the cranes did their yearly seductive dance. A hopping and twirling gesture of romance.

The dance was meant just for the crane couple. So we kept our distance, watched for a bit, then eased away before they could notice that they had an audience.

The sandhill cranes are a right of passage here in the valley. They are the first sure sign of spring. They like to spend their time far out in the meadows, tucked right up against the based of the Sawtooths and Nip-N-Tuck hills. Far away from roads and snowmobile trails.

Tomorrow, I will strap on the skate skis and go join them.

By Kelly Conde

Source Url: http://stanleycc.org/cruising-the-crust/



Featured Local Events

DATE: March 2 - 4, 2018

TIME: Multi-times

LOCATION: Park Creek Ski Area, Alturas Lake Ski Area, Community Building, Stanley, ID

March 3rd & 4th, 2018 — Sawtooth Ski Club 16th Annual Ski Festival

  • SATURDAY, March 3rd, Park Creek Ski Area
    Highway 21, 7 miles W. of Stanley
    11am-2pm Homemade Chili & Treats
    Poker Run!!!
    Winning hand called at 1:30 pm
  • SATURDAY EVENING 5:30-8:30pm
    Stanley Community Building
    Dinner Extravaganza
    Incredible Silent Auction, bring your checkbook!
  • SUNDAY, March 4th
    Alturas Lake Ski Area
    Highway 75, 20 miles S. of Stanley
    11am-3pm Soup Kitchen Social
    Great ski trails and a great time!!!

The Sawtooth Ski Club will host the 16th Sawtooth Ski Festival March 3rd and 4th. Come ski, play, feast, dance, shop and socialize, all while supporting Cross Country Skiing in Stanley Sawtooth Country! At 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 3rd at the Park Creek Ski Trails, homemade chili and treats will await eager participants at the annual Poker Run. Donating fun lovers ski or snowshoe a fun course, stopping at stations to collect cards and when the game is called at 1:30, whoever has collected the best poker hand wins a most excellent prize! At 5:30 Saturday evening at the Stanley Community Building, our ski club celebrity chef will present a delicious dinner and at the same time an amazing silent auction will take place. Many local businesses, arts and crafts people and friends of the club donate lovely things, wonderful services, ski and fashion accessories and deliciously fantastic items to the auction. At 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 4th at the Alturas Lake Ski Trails Soup Kitchen Social, enjoy great skiing along with with trailside soup and cookies. All events are donation based, so be sure to bring your check book or cash for the donation jars. The Sawtooth Ski Festival is our only fundraising event of the year. We depend on memberships, donations and Ski Festival proceeds to fund our efforts to provide quality groomed cross country ski trails at Park Creek and Alturas lake. Call Karen Keiski at 208-774-3487 if you wish to volunteer for any of the events or donate to the silent auction. See you at the Festival!


LINK: http://sawtoothskiclub.com/

TEL: 208-774-3487

CONTACT: David or Karen keiski@ruralnetwork.net


Build Your Adventure with World Class Hiking Biking River Rafting BoatingFishingHorseback RidingLakesRivers

Need help planning your trip, finding the best places to go or getting in touch with area guides?