CROSS COUNTRY SKIING: MAINE ADVENTURE #1
On the morning of January 20th with the temperatures finally raising to 35ºF, I headed to Northwoods Outfitters (NWO) with my Mom, Dad, brother Gabe (11), sister Lily (13) and great friend Liza to pick up our cross country skis! We had been planning this first time for everyone adventure for quite a while and were keeping our fingers crossed that the weather would cooperate.
After Jen and Mike at NWO helped get everyone set up with the right boots, poles and skis, we headed to Squaw Mountain where we were meeting our friend Paul for a quick lesson! Right when we arrived, we were warmed by a beautiful bonfire just outside of the lodge. We headed inside and fell in love with the quaint feel of this small but mighty mountain! The snack bar and lounge area was homey and gave me all the happy feels. Smiling faces and happy people of all ages were everywhere. Outside on the man made snow, Paul taught us how to get into the skis, which was way more challenging at first than any of us thought it would be. We learned to fall, control our speed downhill and slide. He taught us different ways to walk in them, including uphill. It was super useful and I don’t think the day would have been possible without him. Thank you, Paul!
Once our mini lesson was complete, we headed to the cross country trails on the other side of the parking lot. There was a bigger group met us, from Northwoods Wellness Collective, a hiking and outdoor adventure group I founded in 2016. We had trail runners with microspikes, snowshoers, seasoned cross country skiers and other newbies like us! Everyone was ready to set out for an afternoon of fun!
Before taking off, we learned that snowshoers are asked to walk off to the side on groomed cross country trails so that when there are icy conditions, the cross country skiers can still use the trails. Then, the runners and snowshoers took off first and we were right behind them.
Shortly after taking off, Paul was showing us how to move a little quicker by sliding both skis at the same time. I was so confused, my skis were not sliding, at all. With the help of my mom and Paul, we learned snow was packed on the bottom of mine. After banging it off, we were back off! We learned there was a wax we could apply in the future and both Paul and Mike from NWO told us if we went again, perhaps we should bring a bottle along.
Quickly the group was well spread out as everyone was getting the hang of skiing. I was bringing up the rear, a bit intimidated by this new-to-me sport. A few of us fell a handful of times, some more than others. We shuffled ourselves slowly over an icy bridge and then started to come to a few downhill areas. Of course they were very gradual downhills, honestly if on snowshoes or walking, I don’t think I would have really even noticed them. However, on skis, I was terrified. I made my pizza slice with the skis and went down SLOWLY. A few times I felt like I didn’t have as much control as I wanted, but the more I did it, the more confident I became. On one of the bigger hills, I realized not making the pizza slice until I needed
to get ready to stop, was much easier and less scary than I expected. My skis had cross over each other a few times on previous hills and I had to do a controlled necessary fall, which would have been nice to avoid. I told myself a few times, “be brave Samm”! I also kept reminding myself how great it was to do something everyday that scares you! Thanks for the reminder, Eleanor Roosevelt!
I took a few more falls, so did my friends and family. My poor brother Gabe fell about a gazillion times! We skied passed an old farm and tackled some super icy areas. We also met up with some of the more seasoned skiers that headed out at the same time as us. It was amazing to watch them glide gracefully across the snow I was merely shuffling over.
Shortly after we turned around to head back, we took a short break with an abandoned building sheltering us from the wind. We had hot cocoa and coffee before heading back to the trailhead. As we sat, doors in the surrounding dilapidated buildings swung and sent a loud racket through the woods. At first the sound surprised me but then it helped me appreciate our surroundings as we all began to imagine how amazing this farm must have once been.
Going uphill on our return proved to be much easier. Although a few of us had snow building up on the bottom again, we made it out unharmed and eager to cross country ski again, just not for a few days.