Tuesday, January 23, 2018

2018 Snowy Birkebeiner Race in Ely, Nevada

 Saturday was the date for the annual Birkebeiner race sponsored by the Ely Outdoor Enthusiasts. We've had a lot of fun at the race in past years and planned to go, snow or not. It was looking like it might be a trail run rather than a cross-country ski race, but Friday night the big storm finally came! We woke up to about eight inches at our house, with reports of over a foot in the mountains.

Our close-knit community reported that a plow had been over the nearest mountain pass, so we decided to see if we could make it. The nearby roads had not been plowed at all, so I was glad we had four-wheel drive. When we got out to US Highway 6 & 50, and it had one lane plowed. Good enough. There wasn't any other traffic. At the pass, the road was plowed both directions. Here's the view at the top of the pass:

The roads were slick and snow was still falling, so even though we left early, we got to the race a little late. Fortunately they started it a little late because others were also having difficulties.

I signed up for the long course, 6.6 km (about 4 miles). Six of us braved the trail. The BLM was going to groom the trail that morning, but because of the government shutdown, didn't. So we took turns breaking trail.

When the front person in our group (one guy went way ahead and stayed ahead the rest of the race), got tired, they moved to the side and everyone continued on.

I was so winded from my turn I got pretty far behind the group. Here they are disappearing into the snow.

But it was fun having the trail all to myself for awhile. it was so beautiful with all the fresh snow. And I wasn't alone. I heard Clark's nutcrackers and mountain chickadees.

I even took a selfie. (I obviously wasn't too concerned about winning the race!)

When I finished, the kids had already started. Fortunately these independent kids were able to get their skis on, practice, and get themselves to the finish line. It helped that there were only three in the race. I skied on their route, waiting to see a skier. And Desert Girl was the first one I saw! She passed me, heading towards the finish line.

Then came Desert Boy. He wasn't in the best mood as his sister was in front of him.

But he persevered, grumbling.

The kids got to go down a hill at the end to the finish line.

Then it was time for awards. Desert Girl was so happy to have come in first. Desert Boy was grumpy.

But then we went and ate the lunch buffet at Twin Wok and he felt better.

It was so much fun doing the course with all the new snow! Ward Mountain Loop D should have a good ski trail on it if anyone wants a little exercise. And the other loops have fresh powder--a lot of it!

Thanks, Ely Outdoor Enthusiasts, for the great excuse to get outside!

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