My faith in winter has been restored. After weeks – no months – of brown trails I found it hard to maintain my enthusiasm for cross-country skiing. Sure, we could drive to find enough snow for skiable trails, but that wasn’t the point. I was used to walking out the door with my skis, sauntering up and over the bridge and skiing off into the woods. The lights for night skiing seemed to mock me each time I saw them shining through the trees in the evenings or early mornings.
All it took was a 5″ snowfall to set things right again. It was enough for the city groomers to ply the trails for the first time all winter. February 10 has to be a record. Since then we’ve been graced with light snowfalls that have continued to renew the trails.
The first time I ventured out on the trail, I could feel it. That sense of well being. Of gliding over the snow in our own woods. Every turn was familiar and I took pleasure in passing my favorite spots along the way. The steep hills were still a challenge, and the long downhill on the way back brought on its requisite chill.
Now I remember why I like cross-country skiing. Getting outside on the snow. Relishing the silence of the woods. Pushing hard to go up and riding back down. Feeling the skis glide across the snow. Being the first one out on fresh corduroy. The brisk air on my face. The toe warmers glowing in my boots to ward off the cold. And if I’m lucky, feeling the warmth of the sun shining down.
Granted, conditions aren’t always perfect. There are those days so cold that my skis forget how to glide. And my fingers freeze soon after I begin skiing. At times the trail gets worn down from all the skiers, turning hard and crusty, begging to be regroomed.