It has been a terrible winter, but, out of desperation, I have gotten out a few times. Four times to be exact and the best of them had me skiing on gravel some of the time. None of those times were on groomed trails. Snowmachine trail, river, creek, golf course, field, deer trail; that's where I ski.
That, along with the ubiquitous "where are the mountains," comments have me thinking about what to call the kind of skiing I do (when there is snow). First off when I say ski I always mean cross country skiing, there are no mountains around here. The only downhill skiing I do is down hills.
Based on the lack of skiers at Arrowhead and the excuses I hear the "real" Nordic skiers won't touch anything that isn't groomed or might damage their bases. I don't have any skis that aren't rock skis. I did cringe a little once when I did three miles of gravel logging road at Arrowhead in '08 (it had pretty good glide), but it's an unusual ski where I don't garf up the base. The real skiers also won't ski if the temperatures are low (like green wax condtions. Low temps are par for me (polar wax, except this year).
I would call what I do "backcountry" if that name hadn't been taken by the ski mountaineer/telemark/AT crowd (speaking of telemark, you don't need telemark skis to telemark. Not that I have any room to talk I can barely snowplow). Apparently these folks are the only ones who take their skis camping with them too.
I guess what I'd like to see is some kind of a resurgence in ski camping, touring, fun in the woods, rivers, and lakes. I'd like to see what happened to gravel road bike riding happen to cross-country skiing. A ski mode for the unmountainous, untracked Midwest with attendant discussions, events, and gear.
Maybe it's out there already and I just don't know about it. I hope so.