On the trail: Cross-country skiing for the first time
December 23, 2015
After living in Colorado for 15 years, I thought I had done it all. Hiking, rafting, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowbiking, tubing, fishing, stand-up paddleboarding, cliff jumping, hot-air ballooning, ice karting, paragliding, backcountry snowboarding and snowmobiling. I mean, what else could there be?
Oh, right, cross-country skiing. I hadn't done that.
So, when a good friend of mine who lives in Boulder visited me for the weekend and suggested it, I thought, "Sure — I love to try new things."
We headed to Ashcroft, and I rented the gear, strapped the funny-looking skinny skis on my feet and headed for the Pine Creek Cookhouse. At first, it felt a lot like walking — fairly easy to get moving, although it took some time to get the proper rhythm down.
It was during our first ascent that I realized I was doing it all wrong. Suddenly I was tripping over my own feet on a seemingly mellow grade. It wasn't long before I came crashing down.
I stood up and tried to get moving again, but nope — now I was sliding backward. Another crash.
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I had dismissed cross-country skiing as boring and easy in the past. That's how I made it 15 years as a Colorado resident without ever trying it. I prefer adrenaline and going fast, walking that fine line between excitement and fear that so many of Colorado's outdoor activities provide.
Cross-country skiing was easy in the sense the I got on the skis and started moving with minimal falls — maybe three or four total all day.
The exercise was fantastic — there are muscles all over my body that are still sore two days later. I really enjoyed the solitude of being on the trail and not passing another soul the entire day until the very end of our tour.
I'd say that my favorite part of the day was the eating and drinking at Pine Creek Cookhouse, though. I could have sat there all day taking in those views. It was one of those moments where you just feel lucky to live in these mountains and call them home.
Once I realized we couldn't sit there all day, and that a sled ride back to the parking area wasn't an option, I strapped the skis back on my feet and followed Katie. She must have been a mile ahead of me when I fell down hard after picking up a lot of speed with no clue how to slow down. Where were the edges on these skis? Why wasn't the pizza-pie move working?
Boom. Another crash.
As I started to stand up and the skis kept sliding on the snow beneath me, I had my best "aha" moment of the day: If I just sit down on the back of the skis, I can ride them like a sled all the way down the hill.
I came charging down toward the cabin pretty fast, feeling great about the fact that I wasn't all that far behind Katie. If she only knew how long I had been sitting down on my skis during the descent, she would have given me a much larger eye-roll than she did.