February 24, 2011 chartreusian

Ski de Fond au Clair de Lune

Last Friday night I went on an evening ski trip with a bunch of guys from the French church that we partner with plus three of us from our church.  {tip of the hat to Justin who graciously risked carrying his camera so that I was free to have the chance to fall, break nothing of value, and still have the above photographic evidence}

It was a great time of just hanging out with a bunch of guys. There was a full moon -but most of the trail was deep in the woods – so you had only a head lamp to see where you were heading.  (note: this works about as well [read: ‘poorly’] as you would imagine when you are flying downhill)

The winter has been so warm and dry here this year that the first 75% of the trail was all snow that had been trucked in and groomed onto the trail  It was also mostly man made, and all of it has gone through so many freeze-thaw cycles in the last few weeks that it resemble a skating rink more than a ski trail in places.  So basically a very interesting place for those of us who have, shall we say, “limited” cross-country ski abilities.  (The last time I partook of this sport I believe was the last we lived here about 10 years ago when we went with a family where all four of them competed at a fairly high level.  So at least this time I wasn’t been shown-up by a 6 year old!)

The plan was to meet at 5:30, drive up to the trails, start skiing by 6:30 – and it should take us – we were told “45min to an hour – tranquillement”  Well  – as this is France- none of those things happend in the temporal manner they were supposed to. I believe it was closer to 7:30 or so when we finally started out – and by the time all 14 of us made it to the refuge the trek had taken 1hr 45. Then we all sat down in this little alpine refuge that you can only get to by skiing (or snow-shoeing) to have supper together. To start we had tobinambour soup with a pastry baked right on top, roasted duck on a cornmeal base covered with mashed potatoes plus a salad as a main, and a baked apple with sugar, cranberries and sauce for dessert –  plus the obligatory bottles of house wine and coffe to finish off. I have no idea what time it was when we finally finished our meal but it must have been quite late as it took about 1/10 of the time to get back to the cars – and it was around midnight by the time we arrived there.  The strange thing (well at least for those of us raised in Canada where winter=pain) is that it was still only -3 out.   It was 1:15 when Matt dropped me off at home.  

To make it a truly French experience we were almost hit head-on by someone who decided to pass on a blind turn on the windy narrow mountain road heading back in to the city.

It was one of those experiences that we’ve had since arriving here that in some strange way seems so very natural, normal, and is nothing unexpected – and at the very same time can feel so foreign and once-in-a-life-time-ish that you aren’t sure how to take it all in.