The drifts are unexpected. There’s easily six feet of snow, piled high in velvety waves, just a few feet shy of the cliffed-out mountain rim. They roll one after the other, like an ocean swell, for as far as I can see into the forest ahead. I assume the trail is somewhere beneath the snow. I lost the blazes a half-mile back, but the ridgeline is so narrow (maybe 10 feet wide), there’s nowhere else for the singletrack to go but forward, beneath the undulating snow. Forward is the only choice I have, too, so I put my cross-country skis back on for the one thousandth time today and ski into the drifts, sinking to my knees under the weight of my backpack.This isn’t how my backcountry ski adventure trip was supposed to go. I was supposed to spend three days backpacking the glorious North Fork Mountain Trail, a 24-mile ridgeline path that hugs the cliffy North Fork Mountain as it splits two forks of the Potomac River in West Virginia. I brought my skis along on a whim, in case I had the chance to drop into nearby Canaan Valley and sample their sublime cross-country specific singletrack. Skiing was supposed to be a distraction, not my main mode of transportation through the wilderness, but a freak spring storm dumped two feet of fresh powder across West Virginia’s Highlands.When I originally drove over the North Fork Mountain, scouting the trail at the beginning of my trip, I took one good look at the icy, snow-covered cliffs and headed straight for Canaan Valley, thinking my notion of a meandering backpacking adventure was completely sunk.I parked my truck in a ski in/ski out campsite with electricity in Canaan Valley State Park and proceeded to spend the day skiing solo along the trickling creeks of the park while listening to The Police on my headphones. I raced half a dozen deer (the deer always won) and only once thought I was entering into a “To Build a Fire” moment because I was completely lost.I could have stayed in Canaan Valley for the remainder of my trip skiing fresh powder and eating chicken wings and drinking bottles of Miller High Life at the state park lounge. It would be a beautiful vacation, but not much of an adventure. So in a moment of hubris, I packed my truck and headed back to North Fork Mountain looking to redeem the original plan. If the trail was covered in snow, then I’d ski it.That’s the beauty of the solo trip, after all. You can do what you want, when you want. I came alone so that I could change my mind on a whim. So I could sandbag it or go full tilt with no one else to consider. So I could ski and eat chicken wings or embark on a backcountry ski adventure with my trusty PBJ’s. Don’t get me wrong—I love a good “bro” trip as much as the next dude, but every once in a while I think it’s important to set forth solo for a few days when you don’t have to compromise, and the only body odor making the tent toxic is your own. Three days in the woods being selfish—what’s not to love?The juxtaposition between the Valley and the knife-edge North Fork Mountain is stark. The snow I skied yesterday in the Valley was like cotton. Soft and pillowy. Up here, along the cliffs, it’s icy and underpinned by a layer of rock. The views are incredible, but the skiing is shit. Most people mountain bike the North Fork. Others backpack it. I know one guy who’s gunning for the trail running speed record. I’ve never heard of anyone skiing it, though, and I can see why.There’s no snow at the northern trailhead when I begin my hike south, so I strap my skis to my backpack and climb the monstrous 2,000-foot vertical slog in my cross country ski boots. The blisters come fast, but as soon as the trail levels out on the ridge, the snow begins to get thicker. Soon, I’m clicking into my skis and kicking slowly beneath a canopy of hardwoods. The snow is patchy for the first few miles, so I’m constantly having to take my skis off, then put them back on, then take them off…My pack weighs roughly 75 pounds even though I’m only going for a 12-mile, overnight jaunt. I blame the obscene number of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and extra pairs of socks I felt compelled to pack.There are occasions of flow. Brief moments when the snow is deep enough and the terrain rolling enough for me to glide down a little hill, then kick-kick to another crest and glide down a little hill and repeat for maybe 100 yards. It’s unexpected and blissful. The kind of flow you get when mountain biking or cross country skiing, but never experience while backpacking. It feels like cheating, and I love it.I don’t bother making a fire when I set up camp six miles into the trail. I clear a square out of the snow big enough for my tent, then scramble to the top of a cliff to watch the sunset while eating three PBJ’s. I’ve never liked camping solo and I’m convinced every sound I hear throughout the night is a yeti. When I wake up, I see tracks surrounding my tent. I’m no Natty Bumppo, but I can tell they’re too small for a yeti. I figure something cute and furry came to visit, lured by the aroma of peanut butter wafting from my pack.The skiing is better as I hit the high point of the trail and find myself in the sea of snowdrifts, sinking to my knees with every step. Then the trail drops elevation through rhodo thickets and the snow gets thin and rocky again. I tell myself this is what I wanted. I eschewed deep powder and groomed trails for something more adventurous and difficult. This is the decision I made. I chose the harder option. This is the problem with traveling solo. Not only is there no one around to take your picture, there’s no one around to blame but yourself.Near the gravel road where I stashed my truck, the ridgeline broadens and the forest turns from rocky rhododendron fields into a canopy of tall pine trees. The grade is mellow and the forest is open without a hint of underbrush. Here, the skiing is good. Actually, it’s great. There’s a foot of untracked powder offering unlimited tree runs. You can make wide arcs through the pines for 100 yards to the bottom of the slope, then kick back up to the top and pick a different, fresh line. I drop my pack at the top of the slope, ready to ski laps until my legs turn to jelly, and look around. There’s no one else around to claim the first tracks. It’s just me and the snow. Not exactly what I expected when I planned this trip, but exactly what I wanted.
Indiana (13-22) called timeout to set up a game-winning attempt, but Roy Hibbert’s wild shot from the top of the key at the buzzer wasn’t close and the Lakers and their fans celebrated as streamers fell from above.Bryant, who will not play tonight at Portland as he is now getting rest from coach Byron Scott, said he was feeling good at the end.“It’s the style of play, too,” he said. “I’ve gone to more of an old-man game instead of beating guys off the dribble. I don’t stop and go, that wears down the joints.“I just back them down. I take my time. That saves a lot of my legs.”RELATED: Kobe Bryant to sit out Monday’s game in Portland Just imagine, the Lakers scored just 27 points in the first half the first time they played the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 15 at Indiana. The Pacers led by 33 points at halftime on their way to a 19-point victory.They say revenge is sweet, and the Lakers on Sunday got a nice taste of that when they overcame a lousy first quarter to defeat the Pacers 88-87 in a thrilling rematch before a sellout crowd of 18,997 at Staples Center.Nick Young led the way with 22 points. But Kobe Bryant was the winning-time hero. He scored 20 points, including nine in the final 2 1/2 minutes, and made the game-winning 4-foot basket with 12.4 seconds to play.PHOTOS: Kobe Bryant hits game-winning shot to lead Lakers past Pacers Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The Lakers (11-23) got off to a quick start and led 9-2. Before they knew what hit them, the Pacers outscored them 26-6 the rest of the quarter – including a 14-0 run at the end – to lead 28-15. Scott afterward said he did not think, “Here we go again.”“No, I mostly said to myself, ‘Just hang in there, keep getting stops, the offense will start to fall for us,’ because we got off to a great start offensively and then we went ice-cold,” Scott said. “(Donald) Sloan hits (a 3-pointer), C.J. Miles comes in and hits (three) 3s, (Solomon) Hill hits a 3.“And we just said, ‘Look, we’ve gotta close those guys out a bit better, be a little bit tougher with them, but just stay the course and we’ll be OK.’”RELATED: Julius Randle to undergo right foot surgery on TuesdayMiles led Indiana with 19 points, but he scored only two in the second half, thanks to the defense played on him by Young.“It took me 34 games to figure out that he can play defense,” Scott said of Young. “Now I’m going to have to demand that of him every night. He did a hell of a job on C.J. Miles the second half.” Sloan scored 16 for Indiana and Hibbert had 12 points and 11 rebounds.The Lakers trailed 48-41 at halftime and 69-63 after three quarters. With 5:55 left in the game, Hibbert was assessed a technical foul after he was fouled – and pushed to the floor – by Carlos Boozer and then got off the floor and took a mad rush at Boozer and pushed him. Players quickly intervened. Upon review, Boozer was charged with a flagrant 1 foul.“I saw Booz push him down,” Scott said, laughing. “I saw him come at Booz. It was a foul on Booz and the big man comes at him and gets a technical on him. I asked all three referees to explain to me what a flagrant foul is from now on because I have no clue. I really don’t.” The Lakers also got 12 points off the bench from Boozer, 11 points and six rebounds from Ed Davis and 10 points from Jeremy Lin. Like his coach, Davis wasn’t worried in the first quarter when the Pacers were putting it on his team rather well.“No, it was definitely a totally different game from the first time,” Davis said. “C.J. Miles had it going in the first quarter (with 11 of his points) and once we slowed him down, we were right there back in the game. And even though we were down 13 … we were still in the game.“We knew we had to just keep fighting and chip away.”The Lakers were outrebounded 50-37 and shot just 38 percent from the field. But they shot a season-high 93.3 percent (28 of 30) from the free-throw line, with Young going 12 for 12.Indiana coach Frank Vogel was upset out about the result, especially the nine free throws the Lakers shot and made in the fourth quarter.“We marched them to the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and they shot 93 percent from the foul line,” he said. “We need to defend without fouling all the time; we didn’t do that.“I thought we had opportunities in the third quarter to separate from them. We failed to do so, let them hang around, and great players made great plays.”Lakers small forward Wesley Johnson sustained a strained right hip flexor in the first half and did not return. He will have an MRI today and will not accompany the team to its game at Portland tonight.
Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs PreviousLos Angeles Lakers forward Michael Beasley, left, shoots as Cleveland Cavaliers center Ante Zizic defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Cavaliers won 101-95. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Cleveland Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman, left, shoots as Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton, right, shoots as Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsCleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson, left, shoots as Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Lakers guard Josh Hart, left, and Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson grapple for a rebound during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Cleveland Cavaliers forward Jaron Blossomgame, right, reaches for a rebound along with Los Angeles Lakers center Tyson Chandler during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball, left, shoots as Cleveland Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss, left, and actor Arsenio Hall laugh during the second half of an NBA basketball game between the Lakers and the Cleveland Cavaliers Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Cavaliers won 101-95. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Cleveland Cavaliers guard Alec Burks, right, celebrates along with teammates Collin Sexton, left, and Cedi Osman during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Cavaliers won 101-95. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram, right, shoots as Cleveland Cavaliers center Ante Zizic defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Cavaliers won 101-95. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James gestures from the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Cavaliers won 101-95. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma, top, shoots as Cleveland Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Cavaliers won 101-95. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Lakers forward Michael Beasley, left, shoots as Cleveland Cavaliers center Ante Zizic defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Cavaliers won 101-95. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Cleveland Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman, left, shoots as Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)NextShow Caption1 of 12Cleveland Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman, left, shoots as Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Expand How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years LOS ANGELES — Larry Nance Jr. stood near the perimeter of Luke Walton’s pre-game media scrum Sunday night, waiting to be noticed.His moment came when Walton was asked about Nance.“Larry does everything,” Walton said. “He’s versatile, he can play make. He will become a good 3-point shooter.” “It was very emotional,” Cavs coach Larry Drew said. “What he had done for the City of Cleveland, his stint there, it was emotional, and everybody was kind of wondering what kind of reception he’d get. And I was really happy to see the fans, they really embraced him being back there.”James was in the building early for the rematch for the Lakers’ pregame-shootaround, even though he’s missed 10 games with a strained groin. He could be seen pregame meeting with old friends with the Cavaliers, the tension dramatically ratcheted down since he wasn’t available to play.Larry Drew a fan of Ingram, KuzmaWhile the Cavaliers coach had a less stressful job without having to game plan for James, Drew likes some of the other talent on the team.He singled out Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma as the Lakers who have stepped up in James’ absence.“Watching them, it looks like Ingram has been more aggressive off the dribble,” Drew said. “Kuzma … I’ve always admired his game from afar. I think both guys have the ability to take their games to another level.” Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersOn that last line, Nance snickered, before hugging his old head coach and heading to see the renovated Lakers locker room.It was a friendly air to a rematch between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Lakers, less charged than the November bout when LeBron James’ return to his last franchise consumed all the oxygen.Related Articles With Nance (out with a right MCL sprain) and Jordan Clarkson as former Lakers, there was a lot of pregame chatting between old teammates, friends among coaches and trainers and even stadium staff. It was the first Lakers home game for both players since they were dealt to the Cavs last February. Even the day before, Kyle Kuzma had been anticipating taking on Clarkson in his return to Staples Center.“I bet Jordan is pretty excited,” he said. “I’m guessing he’s going to try to give it all he’s got. Especially coming back to L.A., playing us.”The first match-up, which the Lakers won 109-105, was marked by James’ comeback in Cleveland, when he received a much warmer welcome than his first return in 2010 with the Heat. Even though it went smoother, it was still emotionally taxing. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error