Cross-country skiing is a popular sport in New Hampshire’s White Mountains and one that complements the excellent winter hiking and snowshoeing in the region. It also provides access to winter views, such as the one of Mt Crawford here from the banks of the mighty Saco River, that are virtually unreachable without skis.
I’ve been wanting to get into cross-country skiing for a few years and finally took the plunge this winter. I’d done it as a teenager with my father, decades ago. I’d enjoyed it then although I’d never been able to tap its full potential without access to a trail system like the one in the White Mountains. Many diehard hikers here switch to cross-country skiing in winter because local peakbagging and count self-propelled miles skied (without ski lifts) as equivalent to miles hiked.
Although I had some past cross-county skiing experience, I took a beginner lesson and rented my equipment my first few times out. However, it quickly became more economical for me to acquire some basic skiing equipment for use on groomed trails, even though I’ll probably upgrade in a year or two to skis that are better suited for un-groomed ski trails and backcountry exploration.
While it would have been in character for me to jump directly into more difficult backcountry cross-country skiing, I decided it would be better to develop my skills on groomed trails for a season or two to build up my endurance and experience on more difficult terrain, including turns, climbing, and speed control. Proprioceptive skills take more time to develop as you get older and I decided it’d be better to burn them into my brain with lots of practice this winter before venturing into technically more difficult terrain.
There was nothing terribly scientific about my initial gear selection. I simply went to REI and bought a complete Rossignol Recreational Touring Ski Package including:
- Waxless Rossignol Evo Glade Cross-country Skis with pre-installed Rottefella NIS bindings
- Rossignol X5 OT Cross-country Ski Boots (also appropriate for backcountry XC skiing)
- Rossignol XT 700 Ski Poles
I’d used this same setup the first few times when I’d rented equipment, so I had a good idea about what I was buying and the convenience of pre-installed bindings made it a no-brainer.
So far, I’m really enjoying my Cross Country Ski outings. I try to get out once or twice each week for a few hours, on the days preceding or following my winter hiking trips. Joining a ski club with direct access to cross-country ski trails out the back door, has also helped increase the frequency that I get out.
I’m sure that I’ll ratchet up the intensity of my tours in the years to come with overnight trips into wilderness areas, but for the moment, I’m enjoying being a beginner and learning a new skill.