Sunday, February 6, 2011

Paddlers who don't know they love cross-country skiing yet . . . but will!

Trust me. You may be a paddler who doesn't know you love cross-country skiing! How do I know? That was me a few years back.

What are the signs of a paddler who does not know they love cross-country skiing . . . yet?
  • You are a paddler (OK, that one is obvious.)
  • You tried cross-country skiing once and hated it! (That was me too. I tried it in the wrong place at the wrong time. Let's call it Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada! I love you Manitobans but it was flat, too cold, windy, uncut trails with crappy rental equipment across a somewhat frozen lake that went "crack" in spots, zero amenities, and I had no knowledge of technique. It wasn't my idea, someone invited me.)
  • You hate winter and how long it lasts! (That used to be me too. I immigrated to Canada from California. Yes, I know that Canada is a country and that California is a state in the U.S., despite being a true blue-eyed blond with a few highlights. No, I was not thinking when I did it - meaning immigrating to Canada! And I had no clue how to dress for winter.)
  • You lament the sight of your beautiful sea kayaks, Greenland and Werner paddles, and other sweet gear packed up for 6 months each year. (It means deep regret and sorrow! I still go there sometimes too when I look at my Boreal Baffin and Maelstrom Vital 166 sitting in the garage. The sight of them gives me comfort, good memories, and a sense of wonder where they'll take me next.)
  • You think you'd rather "stay in" and build more and more beautifully crafted Guillemot Kayaks and Greenland paddles. (I'll admit I could lose my argument here! I have never been to this place in time myself. But you know who you are, and you still have the potential to be a paddler who loves cross-country skiing, but doesn't know it yet, so stay with me for a bit longer. It gets better.)
  • You'd rather "stay in" and read endless sea kayaker magazines, watch paddle videos, and hit up every good paddle blog you know. (You can still indulge in this behavior in between cross-country ski bouts. It's allowed, even recommended, and great for paddle blog Web stats!)
There are a lot of us "converts", paddlers who live in winter climes with frozen water that seems to last forever. We gave in (sorry diehard paddlers, forgive us) and decided to make peace with winter by hanging out on the other side of water - in the snow on land.

I'd never be one to say to anyone to spend time on snow that is on top of a frozen waterway. I don't go there. At least, not knowingly. If you've ever skied across a lake that goes "crack" in spots, I can tell you it's not a happy sound or a good feeling.

When the third person who tells you that you should get out and cross-country ski (if you are able), is a paddler - you might just listen, and do it.

That's what happened to me. Third time's the charm?

So, if you still need that third person who is a paddler to tell you that you should take up cross-country skiing, let it be me.

Here's a tribute to the paddler who did it for me. 
Thanks to you paddler! 
And thanks to Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada for being a world class cross-country ski destination close to home!
Just one more thing: Taking up cross-country skiing in optimal conditions, in a beautiful place, with good equipment (maybe even a lesson or two) is the best way to start in my opinion! You'll have to decide if you prefer skate skiing, classic or both. I started with classic and still like it. I've tried skate skiing. It is hard! But I haven't given up . . . yet.

Winter 2011 is looking like a great year for paddle buddies to give cross-country skiing a try.
Go for it!

Join us! Be a "convert" to the other side of water in winter: SNOW!
A few reasons why:
Wide open spaces, fresh air, nature, athletic activity, requires technique, trail maps, weather checking, planning, water, energy food, and gear. Lots of smiling faces on the trail. Just like kayaking. And the "after ski" feeling is just as great as the "after kayaking" feeling or better. There is less gear to put away and it doesn't weigh as much!
If you must find virgin snow, it is there.

A Hairy Woodpecker and more Chickadees than you can count. The Chickadees don't sit still for a minute, and love to tease your camera by taking off just before you click, so use your imagination here.
Fresh cut trails. You are the first to hit them after the grooming machine passes by and doesn't run you over. I'm sure they wouldn't.
Romantic amenities. His and Hers.
Exciting trails you'd like to explore. Is a Black Diamond equivalent to white water?
Day and overnight cabins you can ski to. Are you converted yet?

A closer look inside heaven.

Steaming mint tea and honey, and a spot for candle light at night.

Back out to catch the view before sunset . . .
And dodge the grooming machine again.

Kudos to the makers of these tractors! They don't disturb you in the park. The engines purr and murmur . . . like the gentle waves lapping the shore as you kayak camp. (Not really, I'm stretching the metaphor a bit here.)

I don't think the next picture needs a comment. You can make up your own and imagine yourself here.
Red squirrels look friendly, but I think he just wants my sandwich.
Oh come on, this is such a cheesy squirrel pose, but they really do this.
A little more wide open spaces, then it's time to head for home, the cabin, yurt, or the tent.
Lots of room to improve your technique and fitness level . . . just like paddling.
So when will we see you out there too!

Happy and safe winter travels wherever you go with them!
The BaffinPaddler