Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cross Country Skiing: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Snow

Snow seems to be the theme around here these days. I guess it's a matter of as goes my world, so goes my blog.

We took a long weekend to Colorado last week where we visited Keystone and tried our hand at assorted snow sports. I've never visited the Rocky Mountains, and I've never skied until now. The mountains were beautiful beyond words. And the snow sports were a mixed bag.

I started on Thursday with an all day snow boarding lesson which I pretty much failed. I didn't quit, but I never successfully rode that board down even the bunniest of bunny hills. I didn't understand the physics behind the board, I didn't believe for even one minute that I would ever actually get good at the sport, and I quickly grew really tired of crashing to the ground. Snowboarding is not my thing.

On Friday I took a cross country skiing lesson at the Nordic Center, and everything about it was better. I got it, I could do it, I could imagine myself eventually getting good at it, and I didn't fall but a few times. I would have liked to ski the whole day, but I had pre-arranged other plans.

That afternoon I participated in a eco-hike on snow shoes. There's not much to learn in regards to snow-shoeing really, it's pretty much the same as walking, which I can do without much trouble, mostly. The hike was fantastic, and the scenery awe inspiring. We looked at and talked about trees, and plants, and snow, and animal tracks. I can safely say I learned more in that 2.5 hours than seemed humanly possible. (Okay, maybe not, but I learned an awful lot.) And I had fun.

Saturday saw my return to the Nordic Center. I was embracing the idea of cross country skiing so much that I signed up for a private lesson and advanced my skills on skinny skis a little bit beyond the basics. By the end of the day I could safely maneuver myself through the snow, climb a hill, ski back down said hill, turn, both to the left and to the right, and stop. That's a lot. In fact it's pretty much all you need to start and ski a little on your own.

I really loved the whole cross country ski experience. The scenery was the same as for the eco-hike - truly beyond my ability with words, so all I will say is incredible. The equipment is minimalist. It's relatively inexpensive compared to downhill skiing, and the impact on the environment relatively small. The people are swell - they share the trail, yield to one another, and give a cheerful polite warning when they're about to pass. Not that I saw but a small handful of people, but those I did see were nice. And you can wear your hand-knits while you ski. The best thing is cross country skiing is every where in Minnesota and I will be able to pursue my newly discovered winter pass time with ease next winter when I have returned home to the snow, and I intend to.

Cross country skiing truly was a perspective changer for me. Like running, it is a sport you do solo, which I love. But unlike running it's not done on the city streets in traffic (although I could take up trail running which I've considered, but that's a different post). Skiing puts you alone in the quite stillness of the snow, where you can hear your surroundings, and yourself think. It is quite and peaceful. A sport designed to do at your own pace, and for a lifetime.


  1. I love the pictures! The mountains look so beautiful. Wish we had them in Minnesota. Cross country skiing seems like a natural progression from running. Isn't it nice that you are learning a new sport when you are already in shape? I admire runners. Who knows, I may progress to running. I have recently started walking after work. :)

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