My wife grew up as an avid skier. Since we met and moved west together, I've been trying to catch up, a dynamic that I've reported on previously.
A year ago, the early days of the pandemic put an abrupt kibosh on downhill resort skiing. Ski resorts have happily kept the lifts turning this winter, through a mildly inconvenient combination of now-familiar precautions (masks, distancing, limited if any access to indoor space) and new routines (advance reservations required for skiing or parking or both). Those constraints led to a fairly easy decision for my wife and me: mothball this season's ski passes and explore -- we hoped -- snowy roads less traveled.
In preparation, we each added a modest new arrow to our quiver in the form of cross-country skis and boots. For the uninitiated (which was us in December), these are skinnier, lighter siblings of downhill skis. They have a textured area of scales on the base under one's feet, to prevent constant backsliding. These particular skis also featured metal edges, adding a little weight in exchange for a little control (very little, turns out). The boots, our grateful feet read as soft slippers compared to the hard plastic shells of the downhill equivalent.
And off we went (which amounted to glorified walking at first). Over time, we elevated our kicking-and-gliding technique through a blend of YouTube videos, practice, and strategic seeking out of flatter terrain. We worked our way up to bigger adventures (sometimes, too big), and today felt like a culmination of sorts: a tour through a high-elevation landscape of evergreen forests and rolling meadows, mostly to ourselves, freshly dusted with enough snow to make our passage quiet. When the trail went up, we didn't become Keystone Kops running in place; when the trail went down, we didn't panic or crash (much). We moved through many miles, bodies working, minds relaxed, hearts content.