Jessie checks in from the first camp of the year in Bend, Oregon!
The return to snow has been a pretty wonderful thing for me. After the initial 10 minutes of awkward stumbling around and getting used to being on long skinny skis instead of roller skis again, everything felt great! It’s been really fun skiing here in Bend with the US Ski Team’s first camp of the year, and Pat, Erika and Anne joining the camp! After a spring break it feels so good to have everyone together again.
Today was one of those days that I’ll remember for a long time, because we had an awesome adventure ski with a really fun group of people. We do a lot of really focused training at camp, so it’s important once in a while to get off the trail and have fun. And as it turns out, crust skiing over bumps, hitting jumps and learning to turn around trees on steep downhills is really challenging for balance and stability, and I think it’s super important to get better at! Our goal was to climb up into the bowl of Broken Top mountain, and we were pretty set on getting there.
We started at the Mt Bachelor parking lot and after getting to the low point of the ski trails, went off the edge of the trail into the woods and started weaving around trees. We crossed Todd Lake, which was one big adrenaline rush for me because there were melting patches of ice! It was super solid ice over most of the lake, but it didn’t look as solid as it was. I sprinted over the whole lake certain that the swishing sound of my drink belt was in fact the ice breaking underneath me. I sometimes wish my imagination wasn’t quite as strong as it is.
Then we had a big headwall to climb up, and the bottom of that is where Matt snapped his ski in half. But luckily Pat had brought some tape with him, so they snapped the tip off, placed it slightly lower and taped the whole thing together. I was amazed that Matt got up the mountain and down again with only one working ski (and two different ski lengths!) but he’s really, really good at gliding down a mountain on one foot, as it turns out.
When we finally got up into the bowl, we climbed as high as we could go and be certain that the snow was safe. It was really windy but so beautiful, and such an amazing feeling knowing that you skied yourself up to the top under your own power! Sure, a chairlift would have been easier, but all the way down the mountain I appreciated every turn more, knowing how much energy it took to get up it in the first place.
I have only gone crust skiing one other time in my life, so my alpine skills sans metal edges were not so very pretty, thanks for asking. But, after falling a few times, and giving myself a lot of pep talks, I made it down the mountain and even sent it over some jumps! I got so excited when we found a nature-made half pipe that I climbed back up with Matt and did it again.
We made it back in 3:45 hours, which was about what we were expecting! It was a great day, and I’m so happy we did it.
Now, you’re probably wondering what a typical day of camp looks like. In the morning, we drive up to Mt Bachelor, watch a little video to get our minds in the right technique zone, then go ski for 2-3 hours. It’s different for every body, because each and every BODY at camp is made to train at a different rate. Some people need a lot of long slow hours on skis, and some people need less, and some people need more intervals. But in general, most people go around 2.5 hours in the morning. Then, after a big lunch and a nap, we’ll head out in the afternoon for either a strength workout in the gym, or an easy 1.5 hour run/bike. This camp is focused on getting lots of time on snow and long slow training sessions, and as a result everyone is getting pretty sore and tired by this point in the camp. But that’s why we have a rest day mid-camp!
Training has been awesome, but that’s not to say that everything this camp has gone perfectly. I think sometimes you look at athletes on social media (or just people in general!) and you only ever see the best parts. It’s a highlight reel, a seemingly steady rise to the top. But that’s rarely, if ever, the case. That’s just not how life works! There’s always going to be little setbacks and obstacles to go over or around.
This camp has had a few for me so far – one of the bone spurs on my heels flared up after a few days of slushy skiing and I had to visit Rebound Physical Therapy in Bend for some help. Luckily, I asked for help right away, as soon as something didn’t feel right, and the inflammation in my heel is already going away and the wonderful PT’s at Rebound have helped mobilize my foot and take care of the problem. I also got food poisoning a few days ago. This was a big bummer. I don’t remember eating anything super weird, but when it happened, there was no doubt about what had hit me. It was a brutal couple hours but after a big, big sleep and focus on rehydrating and taking it super easy on my body the next day, I was able to bounce back really quickly. I’m not sharing this information to gross you out or get any sympathy – but it’s important to know that it’s not always easy and it’s not always roses. And that’s ok.
I’m excited for week two of camp and you can bet I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for another crust cruise opportunity!