Dad’s skis bring back warm memories

Karen Wils photo My dad back in 1947 skiing in Canada.

ESCANABA — While the whole world turns its eyes towards the skiers at the winter Olympics in South Korea, let me recall another ski champion.

Pa’s wide wooden skis still hang on the garage wall.

Like big old dinosaurs from ages ago, they’re a bit dusty, but oh, of such wonderful white powder they could tell!

My Dad cross-country skied. Back in the 1940’s the skis people used looked much different than the narrow fiberglass skis that are used today.

These wooden giants are like time machines taking me back to my girlhood days.

Karen Wils photo Heading home. Pictured is the backside of Dad on his wooden skis with my sister and two nephews in front of him.

We would merge from the warmth of the old Ford pickup to the edge of the county road. The early 1970s snowdrifts were up to our butts.

Pa’s Sorel boots snapped into the old fashioned bindings. His ski poles were like two magic wands ready to launch him off into the land of snow-draped trees, ice-capped streams and wild creatures on, in and above the snow.

While Dad donned his skis, I strapped on my snowshoes. Dad had his choice of snowshoes or skis to trek into camp with. When the snow conditions were right, he chose his skis. I knew I’d be playing catch-up all day.

I’m a dedicated snowshoer, so when the snow was “fast” and Dad wad gliding along on his skis, I’d have all I could do to keep up to him and the sled.

On many of these Saturday trips into the white wilderness, a brother or two, a beagle or two, or a few cousins would hike along with us.

Dad carried his old, green Army Surplus backpack. It contained our simple lunch for the day. Canned soup, homemade sausage, Spam or Habitant Pea Soup were some of the “camp” favorites.

The swishing sound of those big wooden skis through the unbroken and unblemished snow was a repetitious tune.

As we made our way across the snow-drifted field, we mused at tiny mouse and vole tunnels in the snow. In the balsam thicket, grouse tracks and deer beds dotted the landscape.

Cross-country skiing became more like cross-wilderness skiing for Pa, and he loved it! Along the river’s edge he sailed. Betwixt and between the cedars and the tamaracks he skied, dodging hares, stumps, roots and rocks.

When my Dad was in the army back in 1947, one of the “fun” parts of his travels was being able to go downhill skiing at Beacon Hill Lodge in California.

Pa is 90 years old now and stays a little closer to home, especially on snowy days. His old, wooden skis never won any gold medals, but they sure enjoyed many adventures.

Catch some of the skiing and winter sports at the Olympics, and make a few tracks in the snow for yourself too!

— — —

Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong north Escanaba resident. Her folksy columns appear weekly in Lifestyles.