It was the late 70’s- early 80’s and individual aerobic sports had come to America en masse. Hunter S Thompson wrote that “People who burned their draft cards in the 60’s started running in the 70’s”.*
I was in college at the time and decided to take a XC ski class as one of my two required PE credits. I absolutely loved it! The next winter I went “all out” and bought a pair of wood skies (Elite Tours) and heavy leather boots. Knickers and all I was styling! My friends and I would sometimes break trail, but more often follow skied in tracks at places like Stony Creek or a local golf course. At times, we’d come across skiers taking a break and enjoying a glass of wine or having a picnic right next to the trail. I loved getting out and seeing places I’d never seen in the winter before. Things were wonderful, exhilarating, yet somehow mellow, and then…and then I decided to try some “up north” skiing at a place called Hartwick Pines.
I’d never been to Northern Michigan in the winter before and how incredible it was to breathe the fresh air, feel the cold air on my face and ski next to the ancient pines. Several kilometers into our ski however, something happened. Our skied in tracks became absolutely MAGNIFICENT! They were deep, straight, and hard. It was like the very hand of God had come down and cut the tracks. The skiing seemed to become almost effortless and as I flew along, I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a sign that said Forbush Corner. That, my friends, was the beginning of the end.
The next winter I went to the Corner and actually paid to ski in those magnificent tracks. Soon I was spoiled. Before I knew it I was buying performance skis and then racing skis. Next came skating skis, light weight poles, and all kinds of expensive wax. I started going north almost every weekend and bought season passes to the Corner several years in a row. I was introduced to something called the Michigan Cup and discovered there were all kinds of winter loving weirdoes out there (just like me). My life was changed and would never be the same again. I can’t help but think much of it was due to those absolutely magnificent tracks laid down by Dave Forbush over 35 years ago.
I feel like everybody who loves our sport owes a debt of gratitude to Dave (I know I do) for being such a pillar of the Nordic ski community and for so many years. In an average lifespan, I’m not sure how many people could qualify as having actually changed your life yet I truly believe that Dave Forbush had a lot to do with changing mine. Thanks, Dave. Thanks for the skiing. Thanks for the friendship. Thanks for grooming your trails way better than you ever had to. Thanks for the warm welcome every time I came to the corner. Above all, thanks for being who you are. Hope to see you soon.
*The Curse of Lono, Hunter S. Thompson, 1983