Thanks to an old friend and my brother, I recently acquired a pair of cross-country skis. I got the boots just today, so I eagerly tried them out on the short run from the corner store to home. Walking, it's only about 25 minutes, but this felt like far longer.
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In between the cold and the deep snow, it was a long journey home indeed. It took awhile to get the boots into the skis in the dark, and even when it was done, I wasn't completely weather-prepared. I had my ski mask, for cold weather or robbing banks- I'd lost my old one from working in the Bering, so had bought a new one in green-leaf camoflauge, suitable for Wisconsin in deer season. But my hat was my Seattle-style fedora, and it did not keep out the cold.
The skis I have are best for prepared tracks, and of course, the bike path I used was not a prepared track. Much of the path was obscured by the snow and wind, so I found myself repeatedly floundering through deep drifts, often using the skis as snowshoes, as my forehead began to experience frostbite. At one point the winds blew the hat off and into the nearby gulley, so I had to ski down to get it, and then back up. (Just like my forebears, the Finns resisting the Russian invaders by skiing down, shooting, and then skiing back uphill faster than the Russians could follow.)
It wasn't the most pleasant skiing experience. The best snow for cross-country is something light and hard. Most of the snow was deep and soft. I kept checking behind to see how far I'd come, and how far I had to go. When I finally arrived at the intersection near my house, I had to climb up snow drifts, as nothing had been prepared for someone actually using the bike path in the dead of winter, and then ski through the snow covered streets. I arrived home, cold, hot, and sweaty, finally getting a work-out.
I'll have to try for the more peaceful experience of the day time, in the next couple days, before the rain and warm temperatures of 1° C arrive.