Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Flurries awards: trail of the year

With my gushing over Woodlands in the grooming award, you'd think they'd win the trail of the year award, too. Nope.

I can't say that this was the easiest award to give out. It was, indeed, the hardest. Since it combines classic tracks, skate lanes, terrain, snow quality, grooming quality, and other intangibles, it is a major all-around award, and not one to easily figure out. In a year with little snow, City of Lakes and Elm Creek would duke it out. In a year with a lot of tricky grooming, Battle Creek and Elk River would be contenders. But this year was rather benign in all categories, and the contenders for this award are pretty much every trail I skied in the Metro, and even some I didn't: Como, Battle Creek, Terrace Oaks, City of Lakes, Elk River, Elm Creek and Hyland.

Look at that list. What trail is missing?

Of course: Murphy Hanrahan. In a season with generally good conditions, Murphy has the trump card in this category: the best terrain. All conditions, travel times and grooming being equal, I'd rather ski 10k at Murphy than anywhere else in the area. The quiet, beautiful forest. The screaming downhills and heart-pounding uphills. The well-cared-for trails with good grooming. The terrain. Ah, yes, the terrain. One of my criteria for the "that was the winter that was" series was skiable months at Murphy. When good snow reigns supreme, Murphy is hard to beat.

Or, to put it another way, where else can you get to in half an hour that has more vertical climb per kilometer than the Birkie Trail? With skiing this year in December, January, February and March, Murphy wins.

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