The Hoofers Outing Club in Madison does an annual cross-country ski trip in Delta, which is kind of between Hayward and Ashland, but really in the middle of nowhere. They must do something well, though, because this was my third time going there. On the drive up I listened to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in the car and realized that we should've listened to it on the way home from the West Coast, starting in Barstow.
I was one of the first to get there, so I had some time to ski around the little lake in front of the lodge with four dogs close behind. As more people arrived, we skied across the bigger lake to get dinner. It was -5 degrees for our ski back late at night, and we were accompanied by the eerie whale-like noises of the ice expanding, with no sounds of human activity nearby.
The weather may have been cold, but northern Wisconsin hadn't gotten much snow all winter, so we had our work cut out for us in finding somewhere to ski. We made a good choice in going to Mount Ashwabay, which has both downhill and cross-country trails. Not being a great skier, I stuck with the easier cross-country trails and got a nice workout. The trails hadn't been groomed since the snowfall the previous night, so we got to break them in. And by the time we got back to the parking lot, the warming hut was open. It was an all-around great day of skiing.
Back at the lodge, we had dinner and a few hours to hang out at the Animal House, which is over 100 years old and is more rustic, though a bit bigger, than the other cabins.
The real reason to go on this trip is the sauna, a great way to relax the muscles after a hard day of skiing. And the best way to sauna is to stay inside until you can't take it anymore, then run outside and roll around snow and really get it searing all over your body, then run back inside the sauna. Repeat four times, rinse, and you're good to go. Trust me.
For our second day we went to After Hours, which is a nice recreational area with cross-country trails that crisscross each other every few hundred feet. They had just gotten snow and it was freshly groomed, so it was another fun day. With a high of 30, it was almost too hot, but we would soon be begging for such warm weather.
The temperature plummeted at night, reaching -5 by the time we left the lodge the next morning. We decided to check out Valhalla, another recreational area near Ashwabay, but where the trails don't tend to get groomed very often. The trails turned out to be fine, and with a slow, sustainable pace, we never got too cold. And unlike the last time I was at Valhalla, there were no snowmobiles, so it was nice and quiet.
My big challenge on our way out of the lodge was to get a group photo. The temperature had reached -16 and it was snowing and windy, so I knew I wouldn't have much time. We all ran in front of the Animal House and I snapped off a bunch of pictures with my remote. I think the results turned out pretty good.
Before heading home, we stopped at Delta Diner, which has become a tradition on this trip. The diner has only been around for about a decade, but it's almost reached legendary status in the area with motorcycle and classic car clubs stopping by regularly during the summer. And what better way to end this trip than with a big, delicious breakfast?