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Begins: Aug 6, 2019
Date: Sat, Feb 2nd, 2019
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I’ve been wanting to try xc skiing for quite a while, and I finally gave it a go. Living in Maryland the biggest obstacle is the lack of snow thus the lack of facilities close by renting equipment, and then there is my procrastination! My friend in Bozeman, MT peaked my interest with the idea of a trip across Yellowstone. I know you are thinking that no one starts out xc skiing with a trip across Yellowstone! Actually, I’m more concerned about surviving the nights in Yellowstone vs. being able to xc ski!
I went to Blue Mountain ski resort in north central PA, and rented the equipment from Dennis. Blue Mountain is a ski resort with a golf course and six of the golf holes are used for XC skiing. After Dennis fixed me up with skis, boots, and poles, I started down the first fairway. The first three holes were mostly downhill, and I must have fallen at least 4-5 times by the third hole! Having downhill skied, I noticed that it was much harder getting up after a fall on mostly flat ground vs. a hill. After pressing hard on the ski pole to help get up, I concluded that is how my rental pole probably got the bent in the first place!
There was a man ahead of me leaving skate ski tracks. Not knowing any better, I thought that must be what you do. After a few more falls, I gave up my attempts at skate skiing. I met the skate skier who encouraged me and told me that I needed different skis to skate ski. After my first loop, and a lot of extra energy, I arrived back at the Nordic Center. I told Dennis about my conversation with Larry, the skate skier who made it look easy. Dennis offered to let me try skate skis, but I declined concluding that just plain touring was all I wanted to try today. I also met the ski instructor Rocky, who thought I was his lesson. I assured him that I was too stupid to take a lesson, and I went back out for loop #2!
I chose the opposite direction hoping that all would be better with a change in direction while my analytical brain knew that a downhill was a downhill and an uphill was an uphill. With a renewed sense of false hope, off I went only to fall again on somewhat level terrain. I was negotiating the first downhills ok and was trying to keep the skis as parallel as possible. By the turn, I seemed to not fall and have a bit of a rhythm going. After shedding two layers, I was still sweating indicative of the excessive energy I was expending. I spotted Rocky and his two “real” students on the upslope and overheard him telling his students to be smooth. I thought that I was anything but “smooth”. They were going pretty slow and I passed them.
At the Nordic Center I took off my shell which was wet on the inside from all my liquid energy expenditure and talked with Dennis when Rocky entered. Rocky said that it looked like I was racing up the hill. I told him I was just trying not to fall and keep my skis parallel. Rocky told me that I was lifting my skis too much and that was using more energy with little benefit. He told me to glide more and lift less. Ok, so maybe I did get a lesson after all!
On my third and final loop, I went the same direction that I started with because I was wise to my mind’s trickery. I started down the hill thinking “glide” and “don’t fall”. When it leveled out, I was getting the hang of the whole glide thing, and while I wasn’t going any faster (what a pity that was), I was certainly using less energy which was good because I was starting to run out of it on the third loop!
When I turned in my equipment to Dennis, I felt happy that I had tried XC skiing and will probably do it again. Dennis said that I did much better than most first timers indicating that I went farther. Maybe he was just trying to get me to come back. I drove home tired, moist, and glad my first time xc skiing wasn’t in Yellowstone!
Jim's Nobo CDT Journey
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