Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Penance on the Iso Maki

After indulging, maybe even eco-sinning, on the lift-served slopes of Lutsen Mountain, after reveling in the pull of the fall line and the ease of the chair lift, I had to make up for it. Like a bowl of unsalted brown rice after a Choco-Cherry Blizzard (large), a long loop at Korkki Nordic was the penance and the cleanser my skiing soul needed.

We locked the kids in the house with one of their six favorite Star Wars movies playing and headed up the shore to Homestead Road and the Korkki Nordic Ski Center. We passed the old Finnish homesteads of Clover Valley, where immigrants had slaved for decades to free the soil from trees and rocks to grow a little hay for their skinny goats. None of that easy living of the immigrant Swedish fishermen up the shore in Lutsen, who shot moose for pleasure and lived off tourists since the 19th century.

Korkki Nordic was carved from the wilderness by the hardest working man of them all, Charlie Banks. I think he personally cleared the trails using only his teeth warmed in the sauna. To clear my soul of the sins of downhill skiing, it was the place.

Above is pictured part of the trail, where a choice had to be made. Would I take the "Easy Way"? No, no, not today, not the easy way. I would, as Hamlet might,

"Take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them."

The real test was at the Iso Maki big hill. Let us say for argument that Iso Maki was a real person, for whom isometric exercises were named, for he pressed mightily against himself and the inert, immobile forces of nature. Here, on the long 10K part of the Korkki loop, was a challenge all of its own. You can bypass this hill, or you can climb it only to descend it again.

I chose to climb. Up and up, using my own power, not the rumbling destroyer-of-the-wild of the chair lift. At the top, I committed myself to the hill. I let gravity take me away. Should I meet a tree and die, should I tear a ligament or break a collarbone, it would be my deserved fate.

Like brown rice to the bowels, Korkki and Iso Maki cleansed my soul.


Anonymous said...

The 19th Century Voice is strong in this post, young skiwalker. I hear the full-throated cry of the rich fecund verbiage which greases the way for mere prose to become poetry:

"Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle
That while you watched turned into pieces of snow
Riding a gradient invisible
From silver aslant to random, white, and slow.

There came a moment that you couldn't tell.
And then they clearly flew instead of fell."

Howard Nemerov, "Because You Asked About The Line Between Prose And Poetry."

Blogging the North Shore said...

More English majors! The world needs more English majors! Lives and worlds pass by and we ignorant ones think we are the first to pass through.

marian said...

Can we not talk about your bowels, please?

Blogging the North Shore said...

If we had an English major in the house, they would know that it's not "my bowels"...it's a simile. Maybe 12 years of adolescent boys has worn off on me, especially the last six years or so when anatomical references have an automatic laugh track.