Six tips that will help you plan your next cross country skiing trip

From Walter Nicklin, Special to The Washington Post

Cross country skier Derek Dresler, of Silverthorne, makes the most of the new snow and cold weather in late October while skiing Loveland Pass with his dog Georgia. (Eric Lutzens, The Denver Post)Against the royal background of the Mont Blanc massif, I took a brief break in my work out, leaned in my ski poles and inhaled the lone silence. Just a couple of miles away, the remainder of my family was having fun on snowboards and downhill skis one of the audiences, lifts and cable cars. This was Christmas vacation 10 years ago, and we were near Chamonix, France — that the website, in 1924, of the first Winter Olympics. There were just two cross country ski occasions.

If I want to replicate my French Alps cross country experience, I’m told, I shouldn’t book in December again; there’s no guarantee that there will be much snow. But waiting too late in the season, as I discovered on another visit into the Italian Dolomites in March, may create the Alps an iffy proposition, also. It had been my son’s vacation, and he still got to snowboard; nevertheless downslope from the snow-capped peaks, so the cross country paths were largely slush.

To be a cross country skier in this age of warmer, dryer winters would be to feel as an endangered species.” To survive, we have to adapt. So here are a few lessons centered on flexibility that I’ve drawn from my recent cross state experiences.

1. Be attentive to alternative locations
Surely, Yosemite National Park will stay a winter wonderland — that was my anticipation. But when I eventually ordered a trip there, in late January 2016, hiking boots — not skis — would be the ideal method to go around. So I drove to Lake Tahoe. I arrived in a blizzard (a great sign), but by the next morning, snowy guarantee had become icy rain.

Just in Utah’s Soldier Hollow, an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City, did I locate serious snow. Created for the 2002 Winter Olympics, the website not only welcomes lone skiers but also provides tube runs and training centers for biathlon athletes.

2. Find areas that make snow
The very best thing about Soldier Hollow is that from mid-December through mid-March, there’s always snow — at least on the eight kilometers of groomed trails with snow-making gear. Usually, snow-making begins around Thanksgiving, to make sure a great foundation, then can be utilized as necessary throughout the season.

“The previous five decades we’ve relied upon it a whole lot,” one employee told me.

As many as 40 Nordic centers across the country, such as Lake Placid in New York and Breckenridge in Colorado, can create their own snow as necessary. There are drawbacks: Creating synthetic snow generally requires the very carbon-polluting energy that contributes to climate change — contradicting the “green” picture associated with cross country ski. And the noisy machines may easily violate the lone skier’s human-vs. -crazy illusion that’s integral to much of cross country’s allure.

But when I skied the Quarry Road Trails in Waterville, Maine, last winter, I barely noticed that the artificial snowmakers managed by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. What I did see — and hadn’t seen before — were cyclists using cross country paths for “fat-tire biking” (named for the wide wheels that could handle demanding off-road states ). There were plenty of people snowshoeing, as well.

To escape that which only fellow cross country skiers may call “the audiences,” I traveled a couple of miles west into the snowy shores of Belgrade Lakes only to encounter so many summer cottages, complete with fences, that ski could not be possible. This brings me to my third suggestion:

3. Consider the nontraditional
Unwilling to allow all the precious snow around the lakes go to waste, I stopped for advice at the only public place open, an old-fashioned country shop situated on a narrow stretch of land between Great Pond and Long Pond. (In authentic understated Maine style, these large lakes are known as ponds. Appropriately to my mission accessible, they were made by glaciers more than 10,000 decades back.)

Before I could order a cup of coffee, the girl behind the counter pointed out the window and stated: “You need to ski? Have you tried the pond? ” And I discovered tracks on the frozen surface — not groomed trails, exactly, but flattened patterns where snowmobiles had lately zoomed. “I figure if snowmobiles harbor ’t broken through the ice, I won’t ,” I said, giggling.

Gliding effortlessly over the smooth solid felt like a guilty pleasure, because dumb, gas-guzzling snowmobiles aren’t exactly green. Next, following a half-dozen or so, it turned into somewhat dull; the flat, seemingly endless expanse offered no openings. It was, however, sublimely serene.

4. Support green attempts
Skiers at White Grass Ski Touring Center, in West Virginia’s Canaan Valley, are Utilized to making do with far-less-favorable Ailments. The hotel could be among the country’s southernmost cross-country destinations, however Chip Chase, its owner and operator, is hopeful: “We make use of every flake that falls. We’re snow lovers and optimists at exactly the exact same time and revel in marginally skiable snow” known by winter sports fans as crud. “No thing, we will ski every time it snows and thankfully. ”

White Grass is also performing action, as a founding member of the Cross Country Skiing Against Climate Change collective of eight ski areas committed to sustainable, more environmentally friendly operations.

Using only approximately $6 worth of power every day, White Grass is a recipient of the West Virginia Environmental Council’s Green Entrepreneurs Award. Instead of snow-making machines to cover bare paths, White Grass depends upon what’s called “snow farming” — where fences catch drifting snow that could then be plowed or shoveled as necessary. (Another more formally organized set — Protect Our Winters— represents not merely cross country ski but all winter sports in the climate change combat.)

Paul Geslao momentarily gets caught up in a gust of wind and snow as he cross country sky along Waldrop road at Brainard Lake near Ward, Colorado. (Helen H. Richardson, Denver Post)5. Be open to additional activities
Sometimes, however, “the natural snow pops or is non existent,” Chase said. At these times, he advises great humor and fatalism whilst researching alternative activities from hiking to stargazing to enjoying the White Grass natural foods cafe. Nearby is Blackwater Falls State Park along with the spa at Canaan Valley Resort & Conference Center.

When researching a cross country skiing vacation, it is sensible to check at areas with contingency preparation. Consider Stowe, Vt.. A classic cross country ski destination, it appeared buried in snow when I seen more than a decade past.

“But now that climate has become more erratic, there’s always a possibility of a hot or moist spell,” states George Jackman, president of Stowe Nordic, “sort of along the lines of having a beach vacation and hitting a moist patch. ”

If that’s the case, the Stowe Mountain Resort offers a rock-climbing centre, terrain parks and ice-skating, while the Trapp Family Lodge has carriage rides and its own brewery for Austrian-style beer, not to mention all things related to the von Trapp family of “The Sound of Music” fame.

This openness to other activities is that which saved my differently unsatisfactory visit to the Dolomites, mentioned previously. Unable to ski, I spent a day wandering about Bolzano — serendipitously to discover in the city’s archaeological tradition “Otzi the Iceman. ” His 5,000-year-old mummified remains were uncovered in a melting glacier. A kindred soul, I felt.

6. Proceed with the snow
The bottom line for cross country skiers, is that we have to learn to be ready and ready to decamp at the fall of a flake. Chase recommends having your ski equipment stashed by the door and being ready “to rush into the snow once it strikes via World Wide Web along with your smarty-pants phone. ”

The Weather Channel, for example, has an app that will alert you to any shift in weather at the place that you ’ve preselected. And “snow alerts” can be found once you sign up for a subscription at snow-forecast. com. Another great source is snow-online. com.

Planning too far ahead is not really prudent when it comes to cross country ski in now ’s climate. Instead, consider grabbing the snow the exact same way a surfer patiently waits for a tide. Even unplowed city streets can be enjoyable, or any aged open field. It’s winter variant on making hay while the sun shines.

Nordic skier Jon Miller appreciates the hot temperatures since he skis along one of the many groomed trails at the Eldora Nordic Center in Jan. 30, 2017, in Nederland. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)If you move
Where to remain

70 Rue Monseigneur Conseil, Megeve, France

Located in the French Alps, across the town of Megeve, are 3 cross country skiing areas with more than 25 miles of groomed trails. Day passes for adults $9, ages 6-16 $5.75, younger free.

Soldier Hollow
2002 Soldier Hollow Lane, Midway, Utah

This 2002 Winter Olympics place offers cross country skiing, tubing, biathlon training, children’s tasks and lessons. Day passes for adults (people over 13), $10; children, $5.

Quarry Road Trails
300 Quarry Rd., Waterville, Maine

Aside from cross country ski, this recreational place run by the City of Waterville enables sledding, fat-tire biking, snowshoeing and even puppy walking. Day passes for adults, $12; students 7 to 18, $8; children 6 and younger . Charged only if using groomed ski trails.

Trapp Family Lodge
700 Trapp Hill Rd., Stowe, Vt.

This Austrian-style lodge offers accommodations starting at $200 per night. The Ski School Package (which includes gear rental, trail pass and lesson) costs an extra $55 for adults, $35 for children.

White Grass, Canaan Valley
643 Weiss Knob Ski Rd., Davis, W.Va.

This afternoon lodge offers classes, rental gear and access to over 35 miles of trails for cross country ski and snowshoeing. Daily area usage charge is $20 for adults; $5 for children.

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