I tried something new.

While I understand the world is full of unique experiences and packed with far more ways to spend my time than I could logically sample in a lifetime, I still endeavor to explore as many opportunities as possible.  As a result, I end up a collector of hobbies – music, coding, hiking, writing, photography – and it’s difficult to choose which activities I wish to prioritize.

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Even when I do focus on one thing for a while, the activity splinters into a thousand variations, any one of which could demand my full attention in itself.  I’ve played the piano, the cello, and sung; I also enjoy writing music.  I love landscape photography, astrophotography, and event photography, and I’ve only recently been getting into wildlife.

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And I’ve been downhill skiing for years.  For a while, I’ve been intrigued by the idea of cross-country skiing, but I just never took the dive.

Until now.

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As a strong intermediate alpine skier, I was confident I’d pick up this new activity rather quickly.  I had heard it’s quite a workout, but I’m also pretty fit and can handle a fair amount of exertion.  I was excited to try a somewhat slower form of skiing that was more like hiking and would allow me more opportunities to take pictures along the way.

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I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into.

First, while I was quite familiar with the shuffle of skis on a flat straightaway, I found the motion is actually quite different in nordic skis.  The movement is more akin to skating, kicking off with one foot and then the other.

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It’s also a much faster pace than I was expecting.  Instead of a leisurely glide from side to side, it requires more of a jog to keep the momentum.  This works very well provided you can establish a rhythm and keep up the pace.  If either lag, it’s a bit of a struggle.

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While the uphill was pretty much what I expected, the downhill – with which I should be the most familiar and confident – was much more challenging.  Nordic boots only clip in at the toe, so you lose all of the control I’m accustomed to when trying to push the heel in for a turn.  This lack of control puts a real damper on confidence.

Needless to say, I found I liked flat ground or a slight decline best.

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Because of all of these things, my dreams of snowy photography were somewhat diminished, though I did stop periodically to shoot the landscape anyway.  One benefit to nordic skiing is you don’t need elevation, so most of the trails remain in the beautiful snowy trees.  It’s a different kind of scenic from alpine, and I still feel I had more photo ops than I would flying down a mountain at breakneck speeds.  And bonus: the equipment and passes are cheaper than those for downhill.

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Despite the deviations from my expectations, I had a blast.  I was sore, and I slept like a log, but I fear I’ve acquired yet another hobby; I’m anxious to get out for another run.

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And I only tried the trail variation of cross-country skiing.  Perhaps I should give skate skiing a go next time!


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