Last year we had a medium cold winter followed by a thaw and hey presto, new snow at the turn of april with skiing at easter a stones throw from breaking waves on the beaches of skaggerak.
This year we have now had more than a month of old snow. Abstinately covering the ground above 200m, a hard blanket in places, while other places more exposed to the sun are a slushy white mass with indefinite viscosity and granularity. The becks and sun and rainshowers tickle at the edges and in random places, threatening to truncate the bliss. However these claw at the ragged body of the living dead.
Usually this type of limbo lasts a couple of weeks and midway through this the aforementioned detractory factors render all runs below 500m to disjointed stretches and therefore abandonment by the langrenn fraternity.
This year, there lies the whole white messy indecency out in the woods and valleys. I am drawn out to the zombie. A dying ribbon of fun and fitness, great to be out in nature.
The zombie is soul-less and unforgiving though, it takes more from the living than it gives. Your clister will fail you on the shadowy medium steep sections and then give up altogether after about 9km. Fish bone becomes a clowning affair like a cat who has leapt onto a slippery roof.
Downhill is where the zombie wants to really take your blood. Exposed sections with slack descents suck your speed and require poling and even some kicking, draining you by negating the expected joy of effortless speed and breathing in reward for uphill sweat and gasping. Then the opposite is true on most of the steep descents where the trees seem to be denser on each side. There any bravado or belief in braking later are punished with jittery skis which follow no reason. Unpredictability leads to my usual bail outs onto my left thigh and bootokk.
So take clister out of the equation and my waxless 1979 numbers and i was having a much better day out than a few others. Earlier in the week i had the clister come away as expected at the foot of the hill after the long descent. This lead to a hell 2km final slack ascent and 'staking' the rest.
Funnily enough i escaped the zombie the last few runs with very minor bruising and when our more local zombie finally lost to many body parts to be useful, i had hardly fallen at all ans managed to drag the kids round the 6km route.
Skiers are sparse midweek now, cyclists came out like the daffodils. Me, well this zombie may last to easter! Bring it on!
The zombie of Drivheia finally began to decompose this week. The lower stretches were still icey in the shadows, with a varied half meter cover down to 20cm.
As forecast there had been steady temperature inversions and the entire run up , round and down the mountain was easter soft snow, but firm enough for good training. I did break a spike though when 'wheel slip rectification' went wrong and i found snow.
The trail of the undead is apparently a winter spectre only In summer there is no ribbon to follow, just nature below. As the flesh decays it reveals bog, rock, heather....it returns to the etheral.
With the lethal now just a cadavre i tramped and slid over its rotting flesh with joy. The way up had a photo stop and adjusted my fancy combi R which i have decided are pretty uncormfortable relative to my anciennes blue ankle laced light tourers from the same marque.
There was only one booby trap on the way up where a snow bridge fell through at an awkward place in a steep dip in the tracks, you could easily avoid it. However the descent was different.
Here i took extra care, achieved easily on the soft easter top layer affording a slow progress and easy braking. Soon there were booby traps and a huge slab of rock had broken through like the back of a whale breaching the ocean of white.
The course on the last exposed descent had now become a slalom challenge between all types of natural surface, heather sprigs and the tops of shrub like trees. The whole thing became a bit comical, so i stopped at the last hair pin to take some photos and tried step turning it three times , failing each time due to an uneven and negative camber.
More gaps and as advised i did some real back country, finding the fischers to be just the job for firm but not icey off piste snow. Eventually it was over and i felt that i could have done another round.
The zombie of the hill may be consigned to rot, undead now deceased but the 5km to Østertjenn was almost alive an.d kicking with some snowfall in the tracks, now slushy making it truly a zombie again. There will maybe be a week on this voodoo corpse then.