Today was one of the coldest days of the year with the Seattle morning temperature at 18 degrees I can only conclude it was much colder in the mountains. We were willing to fight the frigid air though. The skies were perfectly blue and we were tired of just looking at our new xc skis hanging on the rack. We loaded up my car and headed out to Smithbrook Road where we had gone snowshoeing two weeks ago.

At 3100 feet our damp nose hairs froze almost immediately upon stepping out of the car at 8:30am. A few moments later my hair was white with the frost from my breath and Eric’s beard had crystallized. We have Rossingnol OT (off trail) skis. They are 65mm and have partial metal edges. Supposedly perfect for those who want to both on and off track skiing. We snapped on our binding and off we went… the only knowledge we had of the sport was a youtube video we’d watched earlier this week.

As it turned out the class kick step movement to go forward to not all the hard… probably because I spend almost 2 hours per day on the elliptical… the movement is almost identical. However, balancing on such skinny skis was difficult for me at first since my downhill skis are so fat. I ended up falling a bunch at first. Eric did much better. I assume this is because as a snow boarding he never got spoiled with fat skis.

After 15 minutes we were casually heading up the road and staying upright. I was surprised and happy to discover that going uphill is not difficult even when using the herringbone technique. The biggest problem was the cold which bit through our many layers. The shade was the worst and we would race through it to reach sunny sections of the trek. The scenery? A winter wonderland of snowy trees and distant mountains of ice.

After 3 hours we stopped from a brief snack at an overlook and then headed back down. This is where most of my problems began. This surprised me since I expected for the uphill to be hard and the downhill to be a breeze… after all I am a downhill skier already. Gliding down on two twigs is not something I am accustomed too though… again I’ve been using fat skis my whole life. I crashed to the ground what felt like a massive number of times. I discovered after a bit that the less thinking about technique I did the less I fell. Thinking to much made me weight the skis all wrong it seemed. Eric too a few tumbles, but more or less glided down the road with little difficulty. I also discovered that trying to slalom in order to turn is a very bad idea on xc skiing as it led to be falling even more!
We arrived back at the car at 1:30om… very cold but very pleased with our first xc ski trip. Now it was time to thaw out!


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