CARBONDALE - I guess I haven't quite gotten back on the proverbial horse after all.
I headed for the Spring Gulch cross-country trails outside Carbondale on Sunday with friends. Though I've been out on my classic gear a couple of times this winter, I've skied only flat terrain. Spring Gulch is definitely not that.
If you've never been there, the trail system winds its way up a hillside. At the top, one long run, Finlandia, traverses the uppermost tier. Whenever I ski there, I steadily climb some combination of trails until I reach Finlandia, ski its length and then find a route down that generally involves quite a bit of downhill snowplowing.
The stubble of sagebrush was still poking through the classic track on the lower reaches of Spring Gulch, but that obstruction disappeared higher up, where conditions were quite good. Our group converged at the picnic table on Finlandia to hang out a bit and take in the views before heading down.
I had no trouble until I reached a sort of short, steep drop. The trail leveled out at the bottom, and there were no sharp turns involved, but the pitch was an instant reminder of the spot where I ripped a hamstring in February at Ashcroft Ski Touring. I inched forward, thought the better of it and came to a stop. I clicked out of my bindings and sheepishly trudged down the hill, hugging the edge of the corduroy.
It seems an unexpected bit of fear-induced prudence trumped my usual stubborn foolishness. Plus, there was no one watching.
I know already that when I return this winter to the scene of my Ashcroft disaster, I'll be walking down that pitch, too.
While my hamstring has healed, my psyche apparently has not.