It seems the older I get, the more I enjoy Nordic (XC) skiing. It probably has something to do with being out in nature and feeling confident on the skinny skis.
Nothing to Prove
There is nothing to prove but so much to enjoy going along a trail, be it uphill or downhill. Well truth be told, I enjoy the downhills much more than the uphill and frankly I completely endorse the two-car experience, whereby one car is left at the bottom of a trail and the other is taken to the top. Is this cheating? Go ahead and sue me.
What a Feeling
With a few technique tips, XC skiing skills can be improved and much of it depends on the right equipment. Narrow fast waxless skis for the tracks at a groomed XC ski area are great to enjoy the gliding sensation and the outdoor aroma of the trees as you pass. Nature is transcendent - hearing the nearby brook bubbling or stopping along the river to watch the water pass over ice-covered rocks. The ski area is comforting because the trails are consistently groomed, they have a map for you to use, and the trails have signs on them often telling you where you are and which way to get back to the lodge.
Downhill in the Forest
I also love using wider XC skis (either steel-edged or not) and a little more supportive boot with a wider binding system to go downhill in untracked snow on trails or off trails. Meandering and finding a way down in deep snow is what I call a good time and the lightweight equipment makes it manageable. I often earn my turns by skiing up a hillside trail on waxless skis to capture some thrills on the slide back down.
The Mountain Road
Skiing for a short jaunt or a long outing suffices me. I especially like taking the lift at Bretton Woods in New Hampshire’s White Mountains to ski back down on the Mountain Road trail whether it is groomed in a corduroy lane, roller coaster tracked, or is sporting a coat of any depth of new snow. That Mountain Road has never disappointed when I’ve taken friends on it.
My love of XC skiing includes no attitudes about my snow sport cousins on alpine skis, telemark or AT skis, snowboards, or snowshoes. We all can enjoy nature in winter and we all can enjoy mastering the snow for memories of the experience. On powder days I can think of nothing better than donning my snowboard to hit the slopes and float down the swaths of soft untracked snow to the lift to do it again.
Meeting on the Trail
I love to meet others upon the trail and chat about the trails, XC skiing, the equipment, and clothing. Sharing the outdoors with other active folks is great and it always adds something to the outing.
With XC skiing, there is no time when there are too many people because you can ski anywhere there is snow and on any trail that has enough snow cover to support sliding and turning. Any day can be a great day XC skiing whether at the commercial XC ski area or up the street on a local trail network.
Ready for Anything
Being prepared helps, so on my outings, I bring a small pack to carry water and other things that I might need such as dry gloves, a hat, compass, a scraper and spray to handle icing on the skis, and so on. In the old days, I’d carry a spare tip in case the ski broke, but that is a rare instance now because the skis are well made. And speaking of the equipment, XC ski boots are so comfortable with the right sock set-up that it seems I’m out there in my bedroom slippers or barefoot. I don’t feel any foot problems whatsoever. The light layered clothing works perfectly to keep me dry and warm. There’s no need for bulky insulation because XC skiing creates heat to ward off cold temperatures.
No Discounts Needed
When I get back home, I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment and respect for nature. I’m not concerned with trail pass discounts because XC skiing is inexpensive at the commercial areas where a trail pass is less than $20-30, or it is free on any other trail that you may find around town or in the local park. Either way, XC skiing keeps you active, feeling great, and in touch with nature and that’s a triumphant triplet.