Early season skiing

Sometimes a little restraint is required. My husband, Rich, is a fanatical cross-country skier. He can't wait for the season to begin, and bolts out to the nearest trail at the first sign of snow. His spirits are impossible to dampen, and he relishes nothing more than being the first out on the trail. I have learned to interpret his early season enthusiasm with a dose of skepticism, however. His glowing reports of that first ski often come with skinned knees, new gouges in his rock skis, and harrowing tales of catching a rock going downhill.

My own forays out on the trails are attended by a greater dose of caution. Why is it that I think I won't remember how to ski? Why is it that my first venture of the season finds me flailing and struggling to find that elusive sense of balance? Never mind that the trails are ungroomed and that my skate skis are ill suited to the untamed powder in the woods. That first ski is never pretty.

Skiing ungroomed trails

This year's first outing was no exception. I let myself be talked into skiing the first snowfall on trails that reportedly had been rolled. In reality, hikers and dogs and tromped and stomped all over the trail, leaving it barely navigable on skis. Come to find out, we had mixed up trail names and were in the wrong place.

With another two inches of snow overnight, I decided I was willing to give skiing another shot. This time I headed to the right set of trails, and although the new snow obscured any previous grooming, it also erased the heavy wear from the previous day. Unfortunately, when I arrived so did two carloads of adults and kids with dogs who eagerly bounded out onto the trails ahead of me. Early season skiing certainly has its hazards. Without groomed tracks, trespassers on foot are oblivious to the errors of their ways. Forging on, I soon left the hikers behind and found I was enjoying myself. The woods were quiet and pretty in their new blanket of snow, and the trail was unchallenging but very skiable. I had no idea where I was going, having never been on the trail before, but it wasn't difficult to follow and I easily made my way around the figure eight loop for 2.8k of fun. So much so that I did it three more times. With each repetition, my rhythm improved, my technique began to return, and at times I even felt quite competent. I didn't exactly break any speed records, nor did I get the workout of my life, but I was out skiing.

Hopefully I now have the flailing behind me.

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