X-Country Skiing


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Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Wanaka
July 23rd 2008
Published: October 23rd 2008
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This was an awesome trip. I have never done cross country before, and in fact I've only been on skis (of the snow variety) one time years and years ago. But how hard can it be right? You get to go forwards, feet move independently of each other, little danger of crossing your skis (mostly because they don't have an edge so you can't direct them at all!), all in all much like walking. Sort of. Which I'm good at. Also having experience on water skis and even snowboard and wakeboard seemed to help a lot, just for intuition for how to move your feet, and for foot-eye coordination. And the extreme bending of the knees way more than you'd think you need to, which is definitely something you only learn sliding on some surface and cannot be really comprehended on solid non-slippery ground.

It was fun, I didn't find it hard to learn, and managed a reasonable pace. Took me quite a while to go bottoms-up (or down, depending on how you think of it), which I was proud of. Tried to make sure it didn't happen too many more times - trying to get up on slippery skis on slippery snow with a huge pack on your back isn't what I would call a barrel of laughs. You've also got the pack making you heavier and making you hit the deck a bit harder. Ouch.

It was gorgeous as well, being used to downhill snow sports, where the snow all around you is carved up or groomed, and not being able to see any untouched bits, it was quite different to go to a place much flatter, but with rolling hills, covered in perfect perfect snow, it was beautiful. And the way the Snowpark is laid out you can do several different tracks, even the loop we did we couldn't see any other tracks from where we were in on place. So you feel like you're a huge distance away from anything, but you're not.

Probably the best thing was that it was such an adventure, taking our packs like a tramping trip, and staying at an awesome hut (Bob Lee hut) for hours and hours of grab scrabble while we got whited-in. There was also some cool snow caves that the scouts who'd been up that day had made and then left for us to explore. Amazing! The light in there is so cool, blue, and you almost think you see through the walls. You can't of course, and they're really robust, really thick, but appear so fragile.

The other hut in the park was really cool too (we stopped there for lunch on the way home the second day), but much older. I would have liked to stay there too, it was this cool corrugated iron half-cylinder with beds all down the sides, fireplace right smack-bang in the middle. Well, apart from the scummy long drop I would have liked to stay there that is. Now some would say a long drop is a long drop. Which obviously is true, but there are different classes to be sure. Stinkiness is not such a problem in the cold snow, flies aren't either, and you definitely aren't getting feasted on by mozzies, but scumminess... well this one came bottom (haha) on that scale.

After we got back Ans and I were the only ones to have sore inner thigh muscles, to the point where crossing my legs was impossible without a helping hand, Ans had trouble lifting her foot off the accelerator in the car the next day too (glad I wasn't on the road that day!). We took this to mean we were the only ones actually doing the cross-country properly, complete with sliding motion in between steps. The others were just walking and happened to have skis on their feet. Of course this was only a small consolation to us two grannies who were hobbling around.

Photos to come (eventually)

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30th October 2008

X Country sounds fun
but if you're into that, you should consider some back country snowboarding ... I'm talking the deepest powder, the freshest tracks and a great workout! Well, if you're interested on information regarding the snow conditions, check out OnTheSnow.com.

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