Friday, February 17, 2012

The Skiing I Do

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.


MrDaveyGie said...

That would be good. Seems though that 99.5 % of the population finds what we do too uncomfortable.

Matt Maxwell said...

That's fine. The other .5% are the folks I'm looking for. :)

Still there are plenty of other obstacles: lack of snow, lack of public land. The gravel trend has made great use of what we have. I'm thinking this ski thing will have to incorporate rivers and adjacent public lands to be feasible. Just thinking while typing here.

wildknits said...

Current crop of skis makes it harder to go "off-track". To narrow. No float. We have an old (80's?) pair of Epokes that are great for that kind of skiing. Harder to use on groomed trails. My skis are a compromise - but the bases are about shot so looking for a new pair that I can use both on groomed trails and off-trail.

Golf courses and the St. Louis River Bay saw a lot of my skiing time back for years (could bring the dog and we both got a workout). Picked up a pulk in hopes of getting out camping, but that dream has been deferred.

Maybe, if it ever snows again, we (those interested in exploratory skiing) can blog about our adventures?

Matt Maxwell said...

Wildknits, there are still some traditional skis out there, but they don't get much press. Fischer makes a great on/off track ski in the Country, part of their Backcountry series. It's my go-to ski for this type of skiing and it's what I used at Arrowhead a few years ago. (I suppose in the interest of full disclosure I should say that I work for a Fischer dealer.)

I should do a blog post on the state of gear for "off-track". I'll take some photos and do that.

Simmons said...

I saw this review today from Gear Junkie. They look like a ton of fun for relatively cheap. And you can use regular boots.

wildknits said...

Ah yes - share the information!!!

I am in the market for a new pair of skis so am interested in what to look for.

And now we have snow! Granted, if the temps stay in the 30's hard to know how long it will stay around.

Now off to look at the skis you mentioned....

karen said...

These are alng the same lines as the Altai ski. I ran into a guy using these a couple weeks ago. It looks like a lot of fun.