The Canadian Ski Marathon or CSM for short is less than two weeks away. The CSM involves 160 km of skiing in Quebec over two days, approximately 50 miles per day, beginning near Montreal and ending near Ottawa.  As we near the event it's hard to believe it was September when my friend Ed and I started our training with a bicycle tour on a Friday night after work.  Bicycle Tour

We wanted to  begin with a challenging outing, something different than the summer cycling we enjoyed, and decided that a bike camping trip was the perfect launch.  The CSM seemed far off then and the only pain involved was paying the entry fee.  Now with February 9th and 10th looming, I wonder if our training is sufficient and marvel at how quickly the time passed from early fall until today.

Bike CampingOur strategy was to bicycle, run, hike, and roller ski as much as possible until the snow came.  Then we would focus on skiing as much as possible.  For us the snow did not arrive until December 21.  It was a long couple of months roller skiing and our trail running and hiking focused on the Allegheny Front Trail near Black Moshannon State Park.  The trail gave us a goal close to home and we decided to cover the entire length of it in sections, running and hiking it.  This was a success for us as it was enough of a challenge and it revealed some new possibilites for skiing.  It all went smoothly except for the first day of bear hunting season.

Stream Crossing AFT 

Not knowing that the bear season had been moved to start on a Saturday, clueless since it has been that way several years now, we were on the trail in our black running tights.  Shots fired near us gave us a start at one point, but a friendly hunter we met filled us in that it was indeed bear season.  With caution we continued on our fourteen mile jaunt, and made sure we wore our brightly colored hats for the rest of the journey.

Finally snow arrived and we made the best of it.  From December 21 until now we have not missed sking three or four times a week.  Weekends have focused on long skis and mid-week ski sessions focused on technique and interval training.  Creativity has come into play as the conditions have been very thin. AlleghenyNF Ski Holiday week was fantastic and then the meltdown came. Since then we have skied on mud covered snowmobile tracks with slush and literally riverlets of water cascading along side for our amusement. There have been ice covered tracks and stick covered trails with pine needles and dirt clinging to our klister waxed skis.

Our big discovery was that snowmobile trails somehow survive warm ups (if at high enough elevations) and we have taken full advantage of the Black Moshannon snowmobile trails.  We discovered these trails while trail running the Allegheny Front Trail and they have been our salvation. Each week in January these trail got a little better.  Not enough snow for the snowmobiles to return in full force, but enough snow so a skier could easily navigate the hazards like rocks and puddles.  On January 27 we had great conditions and thanked the one or two snowmobiles that had packed the trail.  In all of these marginal trips we did not encounter a single snowmobile or another skier. A week ago we saw a man jogging with two dogs.  Sunset last evening was spectacular and we certainly have enjoyed the scenery.

Today it rained again and as I look at the forecast, I hope we can get some more ski training.  If not it wil be back to the roller skis.  Ed and I are getting close to departure time.  I don't know how we'll do at the CSM, but it has been a fun and challenging jouney getting ready. If I have half the enjoyment at the CSM as it was preparing for it, it will be a success.   

Snowmobile Trail Ski


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