This would be my third year coaching at the PNSA Junior Nordic camp in Trout Lake Washington, and the 2nd year bringing a group of juniors along from the East. It was a great camp for all of us and we are already looking forward to another trip out west in '06. A big Thank You goes out to Ben Husaby of MBSEF, for inviting us to participate.
– Janice Sibilia, JLS sports
It was July 19th and we were about to embark on a trip to a sleepy little town in the Pacific Northwest called Trout Lake. Each year in Mid July, Trout Lake gets a boost to its population from a group of about 35 Nordic skiers who come to participate in the PNSA dry land camp, run by Ben Husaby of MBSEF.
I was fortunate this year to have a great group of skiers from NY in tow. We would leave from JFK airport in lovely downtown, Queens. We packed the van full of all the necessary ski stuff as well as some not so necessary items- (Gerhard, did you really need the deck of cards, Frisbee, soccer ball, CD player AND the diabolo?!). We could hardly wait to get to Trout Lake, which is known for its dry sunny weather and wonderfully cool nights. Even more exciting than escaping NY’s sweltering heat, was the chance to ski along side some of the top PNSA skiers and the prospect of the many new friendships that we knew would be made by the end of the week.
After battling road construction, NYC taxis and a long delay at airport, we were finally on our way. We arrived in Portland Oregon nearing 1:00 am and high tailed it to our overnight lodging. Sleep came quickly and so did morning
Camp started late the following afternoon, so we had most of the day to embark on an adventure. We decided to head out Route 14 to Dog Mountain for a scenic hike. Dog Mountain is a steep, steady trail that skirts its way around and up the mountain, offering spectacular views of the Columbia River Gorge, Mt Ranier, Mt St. Helen's, and Mt Adams, our final destination.
Later that afternoon we arrived at the Farmhouse in Trout Lake, which would be our lodging for the week. Comprised of 20 or so rooms, the house sports an eclectic assortment of knick-knacks and a video library to die for. The house is located alongside a grassy landing field for small planes, where if we are lucky enough, we'll get to see them practice 'touch and go' drills.
It is the perfect environment for massive amounts of training and eating, great local swimming and property large enough for 35 campers to choose either indoor or outdoor accommodations.
For our NY group, training in this area was like a dream come true. Miles and miles of paved logging roads wind their way up the mountains, towards spectacular views at the top. Few encounters with cars make for uninterrupted video and coaching opportunities and gave the skiers a chance to really focus on technique.
Mornings typically began with a gentle wake call from the cows in the back pasture; much nicer than an abrupt alarm clock! A typical day consisted of a huge assortment of breakfast foods put out by the 'work teams' and skiers wasting no time getting to the task at hand. Frequent eating and hydrating was highly encouraged by the coaches to continuously fuel the muscles for the hard work they would be doing. Breakfast was followed by a brief lecture on ski technique, and then on to the first of several workouts of the day.
The skiers encountered a variety of training sessions including roller skiing, strength, speed and agility, ski walking and bounding, all in close proximity to Trout Lake. Several different lectures were given as well; visual imaging for better performance, the how's and why's of strength training, and technique and body position for classic and skating, were a few.
One of the nice aspects of this camp is the balance it offers between working hard and playing hard. There were many opportunities to do both. The local swimming hole offered up at least a couple of chances each day to cool off, swing off the ropes and break the bridge record. Games of Killer Kapture the Flag, Frisbee and soccer were prevalent, and even during the agility workout, some very challenging and unique balance drills evolved into team competitions.
The highlight of the camp however, came on the final day – the hike up Mt Adams. This has been included the past 3 years at camp, but this year the older juniors were offered the possibility of reaching the summit. Mt. Adams stands at about 12,300 feet. Though the route we would take is not super technical, it would require a good fitness level, smart pacing and an affinity for heights and exposure, as we got higher up the mountain.
The summit group departed form the South climb trailhead at 5:00 am and watched the sunrise with Sleeping Beauty (a climb we had done earlier in the week) and Mt St Helens in the background. It was turning into a beautiful day. The trail started as a hike on a dirt path, but as we gained altitude became more of a rocky ascent. Mt Adams, like many of the other nearby mountains, is considered an active volcano and is made up of basalt type rock. Some of us had ice axes, and some used ski poles for purchase, as the terrain became more challenging. The weather was perfect. Cold evening temperatures had made the passage icy and firm earlier in the morning, but around mid morning the sun had begun softening up the snow making it easier to keep our footing. We stopped often for food and drink, as it's easy to become dehydrated at this altitude.
5 hours later our group had reached the summit. The views on the way up were fantastic, and Mt Rainier greeted us as a backdrop once we were on top.
After much picture taking and celebrating, we began the descent back to camp. If getting up had been fun, getting down was even more so. Climbers that had descended before us made a trail of snow chutes…similar to a water slide you might find at an amusement park, and we had our very own version right here. Glissading and sliding down was a blast, and provided many hilarious moments, including more than one equipment yard sale! But it was all good and a great time was had by everyone.
9 hours from the start we were back at the farmhouse, and packing up to head home. It's always a little sad leaving the group each year, but we know we will run into each other again in the ski world, and for sure next year at Trout Lake!