Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Skiing is Wrong, says Jack

It's been a snowy winter here on Hardscrabble Creek: a good thing too, since we are still in a drought overall. By the end of January, according to a nearby ranch wife who had been keeping count, we had had 32 inches (81 cm) of snow, although it comes a little bit at a time, and most melts away between storms.

Thus far in February, some 22 inches (56 cm) more has fallen, and twice this month it has been possible to go skiing out the front door, instead of having to drive into the higher mountains. I go for the "Camp Hale" look close to home: baggy olive-green pants, ex-Army white skis, and perhaps the last bamboo ski poles in use in the state of Colorado.

LEFT: A World War II ski trooper from the 10th Mountain Division, during training at Camp Hale, near Leadville, Colorado. (Photo courtesy Denver Public Library)

But there is one problem: Jack, our Chesapeake Bay retriever. Like all good Chessies, he loves water in all forms: rain, rivers, swamps, ponds, fog, and snow. But, evidently, for his people to travel by skis is wrong, completely wrong. Every winter we go through this: Mary and I ski, and Jack runs alongside barking at us. The hills and ridges echo with his bark. The other dogs run too--they think that it's all good fun--but somehow Jack takes skiing personally. Double-poling is worse than a diagonal stride in his view.

The only solution is to keep skiing until he gets tired of barking. Mary and I need to get away and up into the higher mountains.


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