A Cross-Country Skiing Adventure

I want to take a break from sharing my Alaska trip to talk about a cross-country skiing adventure I had with my daughter. With an early spring predicted, our temperatures bounce from winterlike to spring and back again. From snow to rain to snow. So when we planned a visit to our daughter in western Maryland near the end of February, we packed both hiking boots and snowpants and snow boots.

New Germany State Park had an evening cross-country ski event planned. And my daughter wanted to take me. We’ve been trying to cross-country ski for a few years now. But she told me the website posted no snow, so it would be a hike instead. Not a problem for me. I like to hike. On marked trails.

On the day of the hike, we awoke to a bountiful, beautiful snowfall. It would be a cross-country ski adventure after all. The park rangers at New Germany had marked the trail with candlelight in white bags. On the white snow. It got better as evening fell in the dark woods.

The rangers also provided the much-too-narrow and much-too-long cross-country skis, complete with skinny boots that had metal bars under the toe that you had to insert into a clamp on the middle of the ski. The back of the boot is not attached to the ski. The object is to slide your ski forward with the front of your foot and step. Then bring the back ski forward and step. Sounds easy enough.  

To paraphrase an expression of Sir Walter Scott: Oh, the tangled skis I had when at first, I tried to cross-country ski. This was my first time—and everyone knew it.

Have you ever tried cross-country skiing? It’s tougher than you think. At least it was for me. The skis are narrower than downhill skis. I thought cross-county would be easier than downhill. I’ve done downhill skiing. Normally, I took the blue-squared novice trails on the mountain. I got lost once and ended up on a black diamond trail. If you’re familiar with ski legends, the black diamond indication is for experts. Olympic experts. Of which I was not. On the diamond trail, I clung to the sides of the slope, avoiding as many blasted moguls as I could, inching my way to safety at the bottom of the mountain.

At this time, I believe my downhill days are over. I’m too afraid my knees and hips can’t handle the jarring and impact. This makes me anxious. I worry the savvier skiers would hit me from above. I was always a slower skier. Even in downhill.

But just because I stop doing one activity doesn’t mean I should stay away from trying new ones. My life is always moving forward. It’s important to seek out new adventures. No matter how much you hurt the next day. Or the day after that, or… Well, you get the idea. The sore muscles go away. Eventually.

The beauty of the cross-country trail made the sore muscles worth it. It snowed while we were skiing. It was like Christmastime on a Currier and Ives card. Snowflakes gently dusting the pines in white. The forest keeping the wind at bay. Calm. Quiet. The only sound, the soft swishing of thin skis across packed snow. Everyone else’s skis, that is. Mine made more of a clumping sound as I valiantly tried to stay upright. Slowly plodding forward.

People passed me constantly. God bless my daughter as she stayed with me. Thank goodness for the sturdy poles—much sturdier than downhill. They kept me upright more than once.

It was a little over two miles into the forest and then back to the activities center, following those little white bags of candlelight.

Left. Right. Opposite arm, opposite leg forward. Don’t cross the skis. Either the fronts OR the backs. Concentrate on centering the foot on the narrow ski as you step down. It was like walking on a tightrope.

As we turned around at the end of the lighted bags, the snowfall stopped. Clouds parted occasionally, and permitted the bright moon to illuminate the dark, snowy forest. I felt just a tad more confident heading back. This allowed me to noticed the owls hooting. The rustle of larger animals brushing against branches and bushes in the forest.

Yes, to answer everybody’s question. I did fall. It was more a lean to the left and then collapse into the snow when I couldn’t hold myself up with the ski poles any longer. My daughter helped me to get up, but that’s only because we didn’t want to unhook the skis for me to get up on my own. It took longer to get the skis hooked than it did for my daughter to help me up.

Still, it’s no excuse not to cross-country ski again. Always try something new. Life is too short not to. Besides, there might be hot chocolate and tea and s’mores waiting for you around the open hearth at the activity center at the end. Have a beautiful March!

4 thoughts on “A Cross-Country Skiing Adventure”

    • Right, Bill. Many more “bucket list” accomplishments to go, God willing! Thanks for visiting Camping with Five Kids. Have a beautiful day!


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