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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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