This has been one long and nasty winter. Temperatures below -20°C plus wind chill just hurts! While most of the time was spent hibernating, this winter provided a lot more opportunities for cross-country skiing. Comparing to the one time last year, the 6 times this year was a jump! Not only did I gain a better appreciation for skiing, I finally tried skate skiing which was on my wish list last year!
HARDWOOD SKI AND BIKE (Classic Ski, 18 km) – Dec 22, 2013
This was a little celebration for the end of a dreadful work week. The one-way “Meadowlands” loop, approx 7km, returned to Hardwood this year which the staff advised was the only nicely groomed trail that day. It was a trail with quite a variety of terrain to make it exciting. One thing I didn’t enjoy was the constant ski removals to cross the road since the majority of the trail was there. The short way back to the Chalet from the road was a downhill with a turn. This is simple for downhill skiers but I’ve never been a good downhill skier and gave myself foot cramps as I stay in control. With only one trail available, I skied this trail twice, and took a shortcut on the third time. I basically saw enough.
HARDWOOD SKI AND BIKE (Skate Ski, 5 km) – Dec 29, 2013
I tried out skate skiing for the 1st time while many people battled with power outages in the midst of an ice storm. I attended an Intro lesson to understand the basics. It was a challenge to learn skate skiing on such an icy day. I was a total mess. While everyone was excelling, the only thing I was praised for was my excellent arms and legs coordination which is a skill all toddlers learn when they first start to walk. Sigh. Most of the day was spent practicing techniques and balance on an almost flat area. At the end of the day, I finally hit the trail for a little excitement. The icy trails and my imperfect techniques were not a good combination for speed. After sliding around, I was glad I saw the end of the trail. After this experience, I definitely preferred classic skiing more because it gave me more stability.
SCENIC CAVES (Classic Ski, 13 km) – Jan 25, 2014
This ski trip was the day after and during a snow storm. The drive there itself was quite adventurous with the periodic whiteouts, a flipped car on the side of the road, and closed roads due to poor condition.
Having had a rough experience with skate skiing the last time, I retreated to my comfort zone and went back to classic skiing. Hills do not impede me as much on classic skis so I explored a variety of trails. It was neat skiing underneath ziplines. Until that day, I thought ziplining was a piece of cake even though I have never tried it before. Then I saw how far the ziplines traveled deep in the forest and looked spooky. I enjoyed this nordic location, except for one of the trails called the “Wild Goose”. It was a wide and flat trail out in the open. With no trees blocking the wind and blowing snow, it was one freezing distance to endure. It is probably a good trail for skate skiers to get a rhythm but I didn’t enjoy it on classics. One trail led to the phenomenal “Lookout Point”. I am not sure why, maybe the start of the trail was already high up in elevation, but I didn’t feel much of an uphill to get to the lookout. The view was spectacular and I could see the Chalet down below! There were some trails I wanted to try like the “Northwest Passage”, but the drifting snow and high winds made them unpleasantly un-groomed and deserted.
HORSESHOE VALLEY (Skate Ski, 11 km) – Feb 9, 2014
Horseshoe Valley brought back good memories of cycling. It was nice to be back. While getting rentals, one of the staff advised us the Valley Trails near the Adventure Park were hilly which was better for classic skiing. Driving across the street to the older “Copeland Trails” would offer better trails for skate skiing. The easy trail started off with a slight decline which was exhilarating to gain the sort of speed I don’t typically get in skiing. However the long incline on the way back was annoying even though it was mild. I felt like I wasn’t moving and was quite jealous of people with classic skis. I skied this beginner trail twice to regain my form until I got bored and tried an intermediate trail. On an uphill, I got stopped by a pro-looking person who told me a few tips before he sped away. How embarrassing. After enduring the annoying long incline back to the Cabin for the 3rd time, I had no more motivation to ski and just sat down. Not the best experience.
WASAGA NORDIC (Skate Ski, 14 km) – Mar 9, 2014
This was by far my favourite location for skate skiing with their dedicated skate skiing trails. The fresh layer of snow on the trails was much easier to practice skate skiing with better traction compared to the past few times. I started off with the beginner skate skiing trail which was relatively flat. An excellent trail to practice form and get a good rhythm. The next trail was the Blueberry Trail which was an excellent beginner trail for both classics and skates. It was relatively flat as well and just slight inclines and declines to help gather some speed. The snow was even fresher on this trail, offering even more traction. After lunch, I decided to try the Intermediate skate ski trail for some adventure. That was a bad decision unless my goal was to ruin my best skiing day so far this year. The intermediate section, which wasn’t even that long but definitely felt long, had roller after roller. The uphills were annoying, the downhills were spooky, and foot cramps subsequently followed. I immediately went inside the chalet afterward to nurse my foot. To end the day on a good note, I went back to the Blueberry Trail. Wasaga Nordic is highly recommended especially for skate skiing and their rental costs are the cheapest I have seen too!!
WASAGA NORDIC (Skate Ski, 16.45 km) – Mar 23, 2014
It was such a terrific experience last time and since March 23 was the last opening day for Wasaga Nordic, it was worthwhile to make another trip there. It may be March but once again,the morning temperature was -11°C, feeling colder than -20°C. What else is new? I stayed on the same trails as last time since I will have more fun on relatively flat terrains on skate skis. The trail conditions were not as nice as last time. I started off on the beginner Skate Ski Trail. There were sections with thick snow, enough for the skis to sink in; another section that was quite icy. To hopefully improve on my form, I followed the V-shape tracks left by skiers, trying my best to match the ski angles and the length of the glides. I’d then stop periodically to look back at my tracks. My glides definitely fell short at times. The condition on the Blueberry Trail was slightly better, mostly soft packed snow. I didn’t take as many breaks as usual. After several trails, I started to feel exhausted but tried to keep moving. Cycling season is quickly approaching and I must start remembering what pain feels like, the only way in my mind to get my endurance back. It was another fun day at Wasaga. Again, this is a highly recommended location. The staff was awesome and friendly too – I think his name is Mike?