Working Hard

Picture of a snowy back-country ski trail in Grand Marais MN

The life of an outdoor shop owner

by Jack Stone

I know that some of you envy the life of an outdoor shop owner. You think it is all fun and games. When I worked for Eddie Bauer back in the 70’s, my dad used to ask me when I was going to get a real job. Well I am here to tell you it is just work, work, work.

On Sunday I sacrificed a warm, sunny afternoon by taking out a pair of Hok skis to the Superior Hiking Trail near my house. When I pulled up my car and let my dog out, I realized there was another car parked and that I would not be alone. Fortunately, as I was putting my skis on, they were coming out. Well, at least I wasn’t going to have to share the trail. If I had to work, I wanted to do it alone.

Then I discovered my first problem. One of my reps left a set of backcountry poles for me to try out. Ah…they were trekking poles, not ski or snowshoe poles. No baskets on them. Oh well, I decided to make do. Some words of advice: use poles but use the right poles. It really helps.

So, I forced myself, for the good of the store and you dear reader, to slog down the trail. As you can see by the pictures, the trail was wonderful. Heck, there was even room for more than just me on the trail. But fortunately, I ran into no one. It was one of those afternoons that was quiet with the sun peeking out here and there. I even quit feeling sorry for myself having to work on a Sunday.

I should mention a few things. First, it may seem counterintuitive but most people can get by with the shorter Hok ski. Unless you are going down a lot of hills or across flat open lakes, the shorter, 125 cm ski is just fine. If you have a larger foot or are using a heavy pack boot, ask for the pivot binding. Second, the poles I mentioned earlier: use them and have snow baskets on them. Third, if you are taking your four-legged friend, use a little Musher Secret in their paws. It keeps ice balls from forming between their toes. And if you are taking you dog, consider buying or renting a skijoring set. That, along with the skis, could be a blast.

Snow-covered trees on a backcountry ski trail in Grand Marais MN


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