Friday, December 21, 2018

Confessions of a Terrified Cross-Country Skier

I desperately snowplowed down the steep slope. Oh no! Obstacle! Obstacle! A fallen tree loomed ahead. For Pete's sake, what was so easy about cross country skiing?

Dang! An obstacle on a hill. Trust me, this may not look like a hill. But it is.
Despite this being a dismal winter in the valley, I was gratified to find plenty of snow up high. Accompanied by my friend T and a little yipper named Molly, I ventured out to the trails to see if I remembered how to ski. Turns out, I do, sort of.
She's little, and she tends to yap a lot, but she's cute. Not a great photo because she wouldn't stay still.
The next day I went out solo to check conditions on the Canal Road. This is a summer road that is only open to oversnow vehicles in the winter.  As you may surmise, it parallels a canal. You can travel ten miles one way, but I didn't have time for that. Darkness began to fall and it was time to retreat. Conditions were fine, once I avoided the tire tracks (the memo about driving on the road in winter must have been lost to some). The dogs were pretty happy about the two hour ski. So was I.

The third day I had a couple of hours to spare between work obligations. I returned to the Canal Road, but took the skier trail down through the forest. This is a route I can only undertake when there is plenty of soft snow to slow me down--it's quite the elevation drop. Today there was just enough snow for it to work. I only had to sidestep down two very steep hills, and never sunk to the low of hiking with skis.

I always feel like I'm starting over each winter. I have to accept that I will never be graceful on skis. Therefore, my confessions:
 1. I cried once on the Hill of Death (not to be confused with the Hill of Terror)
2. I may have had a meltdown on my birthday one year on a "most difficult" route. Thus the new saying by J: "it's not your birthday if there's not a meltdown".
3. I have uttered "oh no, oh no, oh no," more than once.
4. I have walked quite a few hills.
5. I once fell over a dog when I couldn't stop in time.
6. I'm always grateful when I get back to the car with all limbs intact.
7. I am secretly glad when it is a slog rather than extremely fast downhill.
8. I'll ski up the Hill of Terror to avoid skiing down it on the Summit Divide loop.
9. My attempt at skijoring ended in disaster when the dogs ran too fast for me.
10. I once fell over when standing still on cross country skis talking to a friend.

I'll keep at it, though. Maybe this will be the winter when the Hill of Terror gets downgraded to the Hill of Mild Fear. (The Hill of Death will never change, though. Miracles are not going to happen.)


  1. I feel the same way about starting over every year. I think the only people who don't experience this are those who roller ski through the summer.

    1. That sounds even more frightening if you add pavement to it! Maybe if there was a flat trail...

  2. I can understand the terror. I'm not so good on skinny xc skis either. Only downhill skied once so far this year. My ribs are healing way slower than I'd like (probably cause I'm still trying to do stuff instead of resting) Happy holidays

    1. The downhill skiing here so far is marginal, but people are doing it. I always assume that downhill skiers will be better than me on cross country skis since they are used to speed? I don't know. Someday I may master this sport. Today is not the day.

  3. I am the WORST XC skier, but I still love it!!! Well, except for the downhills.

    1. Ha. I doubt you are the worst. I love it too even though I get frightened often.

  4. From here the snow beckons and looks magical. I hope the down grade to the Hill of Mild fear happens soon.


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