The main reason I came to cabin this early in the season (the season being the late winter) was to try out backcountry ski boots which I will need for the trip in March. I drove to Bruksvallarna and rented boots and skis and then took on the trail up towards Kariknallen. I didn’t like the way up yesterday, but this trail to Kariknallen is even worse. But it’s exactly what I needed, because the best way to test boots is to go up as it will put the most pressure on the back of the foot where it always chafes. At first it felt pretty good, but about halfway up I was sure that the left foot, once again, was going to be a problem. But the ski boot wasn’t really the biggest issue at this point because it was a really windy day, SMHI had issued a Class 1 warning for heavy winds and it was no joke. I made the last km up to the cabin in head wind, the snow flakes were hitting my face like needles but I had a face mask with me which helped.
I ate a bowl of soup (not a waffle!) at the cabin and when I got out again, the wind had gotten even worse and now it was snowing quite heavily as well. Visibility was really bad at times, but as long as I could see the next trail marker it was fine. The real problem was that I couldn’t see the snow in front of me – there was absolutely no contrast so I couldn’t see where the snow was hard and where it was piled. It makes a big difference because on the hard snow the skis run fast, but the piled snow slows you down. So you could be going a nice speed but then you hit a pile and you almost fall down face first when your body continues forward but your feet are stuck in the snow.
When the trail turned right, I had the wind almost on my face again. If it was bad going up, now it was the worst I’ve ever experienced. The snow froze on my eye lashes and because it was difficult to keep eyes open at all, I couldn’t really even make out when the trail was going up or down or level or what kind of snow I had under my skis. I was such a relief to get back in the forest! And by then I became aware of the pain in the left foot, except it wasn’t the same place that I had felt on the way up. This was the same spot where I had small blisters last weekend, and when I was back at the car and took off the boots, I could see that the skin was loose on the old blister that I thought had healed.
So I thought about this for a while and decided that I can work with these boots. Right foot was perfectly ok and the left foot was mostly hurting because of the old blister. If I didn’t encounter any bigger problems on the way up the mountain, then I feel optimistic that I can fix this. Not buying these boots would give me a bigger problem in that I would have to buy completely untried boots and then manage to find time to test them before the trip in March. That felt more risky than dealing with the small issue that came up with these boots. So now I have one month to make them work for me!