Sunday, January 15, 2012

one step forward two steps back

A new glade to ski, the new bowl is just over the top of the distant hill and connects to the the bottom of the glade on the lower right

halfway down the bowl, it's not huge but it's close to home and free to ski

フトウガ峰 Futougamine in the distance with the bowl nicely carved up, the cache lies even farther beyond that

We finally got the woodstove fixed just after Christmas. It cost a pretty penny but we're still ahead of the game. During the time the stove was down we relied on 2 kerosene heaters plus ran the woodstove on low. For a few years we heated only with wood, then got an electric heater. Now still mainly heating with wood though we use the big kerosene heater early in the morning, before the kids get off to school or when we've been out all day or longer, it's convenient to heat up the house quick before the woodstove gets up to temp, about half an hour or so. I've found over the years that heating completely with wood is possible, but for our situation not entirely practical.

Same for growing crops. I've learned how to plow, plant and tend some crops over the years but not perfectly and not to capacity given time constraints. But it's been fun, if not arduous learning the ropes in the field . I feel confident that it's possible to produce a good portion of our family's food if need be, but time constraints, or is it lifestyle constraints, take their toll. That's why I'll probably be scaling back the hobbyfarming in 2012, and focusing more on my own land, garden, and pursuits.

Finally what probably started off all this back-stepping, our muscovy duck Mr. Brown seems to have flown the coop. I hope he finds what he's looking for, probably heading towards the warmth and sun of the Inland Sea, it is after all, all downhill from here.

Speaking of which the skiing is getting better and better around here and I've found some new routes that've opened up because of the good conditions. Last time out was some of the best backcountry ever. The hike up the mountain gets easier as my legs get accustomed to climbing again and the runs likewise get longer and more plentiful.

Back at it again and conditions have worsened a bit but still good skiing.  We had some heavy rain down here, but I knew it would be snowing up high as usual.  The steep hike up to the ridge is not a chore anymore, but a good warm-up for the main event.  The heavy wet snow was a little worse than thought, made everything slow motion, which is ok with me on the steeps where it can get hairy.

The ridge runs like this for about 2km. Often 45 degrees or better, in some places it is so tempting to just ski off into the unknown, but at this grade and with the amount of snow it'd be a bear to get back up.

Before heading off down the bowl I tell myself to stick to the shoulder, this new snow may be a problem.
Sure enough it has caused the bowl to avalanche.  Just last week I was in the middle there but knew conditions were safer, though I didn't linger long.  Doesn't look like  a major slide but one wouldn't want to be in there when it went. On re-reading Avalanche Aware, this is a  dangerous type of slab avalanche caused by density inversion, heavier snow on top of soft snow.

The lunch kitchen.  I need to put the 2nd cache around here, preferably with a cheezy pop-up beach tent and an old sleeping bag for naptime after a big lunch and a few runs.


  1. Really sorry to hear about Mr.Brown. Maybe he's headed this way - I'll let you know. I remember last year when Grey and Marilyn took off, I'd never looked up at the sky for so long in my entire life. Thankfully I found them.

    That's some damn fine skiing there, and you can even make your own soundtracks !?

    Good move on scaling back food production on BIG land. I'm doing the same here, focusing on squeezing in as much as I can just out the front door, all the while skateboarding, playing with my kids and leaving to teach English at times. Balance is best, yeah.



  2. Hey thanks for stopping by Ken,

    Took me a while to figure out Windows Movie Maker in Japanese, aargh.

    Too bad about Brown, but I have the go ahead and maybe some leads on Guinea Fowl.

    Hope you get some snow soon,


  3. sorry to hear about mr brown, although you seem very sanguine about it!

    some daring hiking and skiing you're up to down there - I've been talked out of such reckless behaviour, and settle for stomping round the snowy kaki fields in my wellies every day. it is some exercise at least and keeps me a little closer to sanity through these grim (for me) months. only 10 more weeks of this and it'll almost be over for another 8 months!

    say hi to your family from us


  4. Will do and say hi for you!

    Daring, ha, strenuous mmm yeah.
    You've really got to try snowshoeing, your place was made for it, bet you'd get some great photos


  5. I looked at some snowshoes, but they are waaaay beyond my means. I am thinking of getting some local ji-chan to knock me up some of those inaka-style bamboo & string ones!