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Nordic trip report, Sun Mountain, WA

Christy

Angel Diva
Because some of us have been discussing Nordic clothes and gear, I thought I'd post the trip report of my maiden solo voyage.

I had a classic Nordic lesson last year in Sun Valley (using rental gear), then spent time after skiing on my own, and it was marvelous. I think I fell once going down a small hill, but that was it. I felt like I learned the basics and was all set to to be on my own going forward. This past few days we went to Washington's Methow Valley (which has a huge Nordic trail system) and stayed at Sun Mountain Lodge, which has trails right out the door. I had bought my own set of skis (Rossi Evo XC60 Posigrip).

Methow Valley trail system info, if anyone is interested: https://www.methowtrails.org/

The first fun part was that I'd forgotten how to click into the bindings (or maybe these are different than the ones I used before? I had to pull up a video. You have to turn the toepiece 90 degrees to get in and out. Luckily I thought to do this in our hotel room.

I confidentially bypassed the beginner area and practice track and headed to the start of the main green trail, ready for a full day of effortless skiing. I put my skis on and almost immediately fell down. I remember last year thinking these skinny skis were slippery when I first put them on, but WHOA! Mine are so slippery (they had fresh wax too). I did not remember how to get up and meanwhile there is another woman that's been unable to get up since I arrived on the scene, and she's fighting with her husband while down on the ground, so I took my skis off, stood up, put them back on, looked at the down slope of the green trail, and turned around and headed back to the beginner area. So there I practice shuffling around on their flat tracks, herringbone-ing up the little practice hill, and going down the practice hill. I do the 1/4 mile practice loop and pronounce myself good to go though this is much trickier than I remember.

The green trail leading away from the lodge and out into the larger trail system, while indeed a gentle grade, doesn't have a flat bit anywhere. It's all downhill leaving the lodge area. I fall a number of times going down the hill. I realize I have no idea how to control my speed when in the track going down. I guess I'll be watching some videos on this! I practice being outside of the tracks and snowplowing. That seems to work okay.

Luckily I have a lot of company. There were other beginners falling as well. It was an interesting mix of people--I heard a lot of different languages and generally got the impression there were a lot of foreign born tech workers and their families trying out the sport on this holiday weekend. One young woman was crying. I also saw a blind skier, in the tracks, with his wife (presumably) close to his side outside the tracks. That was humbling.

I gradually got better though I probably fell 6 times (and not gracefully either. Once I landed on my stomach). I went in for lunch, thought about it, then decided to snowshoe in the afternoon. (My husband went to the small non-profit downhill area to ski). I think next time I go out I will have another lesson. I don't understand why it was so easy for me last time and so hard this time. Maybe the rental skis were easier to ski; maybe I just need instruction on slopes. The Sun Valley Nordic Center, in retrospect, is on a golf course, so really I just skied around a golf course last year (my instructor told me that locals would never ski there, they go on the larger trail system in the valley). The hills were tiny bumps, not sustained downhills. My SIL told me she has found different conditions make a huge difference so there's that too.

So maybe not the best start, but it was a gorgeous day and gorgeous scenery, and Sun Mountain Lodge was a wonderful getaway. Hopefully I will improve and will be back to conquer the rest of the green trails up here, at least.

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Sunrise view from our room:

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RachelV

Administrator
Staff member
Gorgeous! I keep saying I'm going to buy some XC skis for us and I never do it. We did just luck into a hut reservation that a friend can't use right next to an XC area, so we're officially out of excuses. Looking forward to getting out even more after reading this.

Also legitimately lol'ed at "I did not remember how to get up and meanwhile there is another woman that's been unable to get up since I arrived on the scene, and she's fighting with her husband while down on the ground, so I took my skis off, stood up, put them back on, looked at the down slope of the green trail, and turned around and headed back to the beginner area." Some days are like that... :rotf:
 

NewEnglandSkier

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Great trip report. Looks beautiful.
To slow down going downhill you can either get out of the tracks and do a snowplow or if you want to stay in the tracks, you can take just one ski out of the track and wedge/snowplow with just that ski and it will slow you down.
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
Wow, what beautiful scenery you have there!!! I'm glad you got out and won't feel so bad if my first time is more challenging than anticipated now. I was hoping to do a lesson over the Christmas break, but since we had a major rain event on Christmas Eve/Christmas the local cross country areas all got washed out. They are back now, but I haven't had a chance to do that as I don't really want to take a weekend day off of downhill since I have classes then. Hopefully a weekday soon!

I was able to step my toe into my bindings, I wonder if yours should be able to do that as well since our skis seem quite similar? Holy cow could I not figure out how to get out of them when I played around in my yard during a storm though. Definitely not intuitive to have to turn the front part of the binding 90 degrees sideways to release them as you said. I also had to look up a video, but after I took my feet out of my boots and had to step into the snow to get into my house and to my phone. :rotf:
 

Christy

Angel Diva
Great trip report. Looks beautiful.
To slow down going downhill you can either get out of the tracks and do a snowplow or if you want to stay in the tracks, you can take just one ski out of the track and wedge/snowplow with just that ski and it will slow you down.

Thank you! I did actually try this at one point, and the act of trying to lift a ski out of the track tripped me. Practice, I guess. Are there any etiquette issues with snowplowing on the groomed trail? Am I ruining it? I saw about a thousand signs telling walkers and snowshoers to keep off the groomed trails.

Oh--and--if there is only one set of tracks, and there are curves, how do you know you aren't about to crash into an uphill skier? I know uphill should yield to downhill, but the might not see you in time, it seems.

I was able to step my toe into my bindings, I wonder if yours should be able to do that as well since our skis seem quite similar?

My husband wondered this later. Maybe I need to look it up again.
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
My husband wondered this later. Maybe I need to look it up again.

I just stepped on the toe part firmly and they clipped in. In hindsight it would have been better if they hadn’t since I would have had to figure out the 90 degree twist instead of being stuck in my skis!
 

ddskis

Certified Ski Diva
Great report; thx! Been hoping to get over to that area soon.
Had to lol at the falling! Last time I went xc skiing there it had been a 35yr or so gap. Tromped around in front of the cabin we stayed at and decided to hit the trails with similar results to yours. I had a a hard time getting up as I was laughing so hard at my own ineptitude.
A girlfriend of mine in CO says about xc skiing, “You’re going along, looking good, feeling good, and then u fall over!”
Truth.
 

geargrrl

Angel Diva
I had **the best*** lesson of any sports lesson ever, for skate skiing, from the head of the ski school there last season. I would have paid double but I gave him a huge tip. I'd highly recommend that route.
 

geargrrl

Angel Diva
I do not know of any nordic ski binding that are step in. All of our require a pole tip push or a manual click.
 

geargrrl

Angel Diva
We Nordic ski when the alpine conditions aren't great. Mt Spokane has a huge system (over 70 K) and we do skate and classic. So far been doing way more Nordic than alpine that has a lot to do with the mask/distancing situation.
 

NewEnglandSkier

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@Christy hmm, I'm actually not sure what you'd do if you are descending down a hill around a curve where you can't see an uphill skier---you could maybe call out. I have not encountered that situation and am not sure of the etiquette for that.
I've been taught as long as you don't mess up the track some wedging is ok. The groomed part of the trail where the skate skiers go (at least at the nordic center where I learned) was okay to snowplow on----usually xc skis don't tend to dig in too much anyway to make too much effect from snowplowing. Other more advanced XC skiers will maybe chime in on this.

I have step in bindings on my XC skis, but they are about 20 years old and no longer made I believe. They are a Salomon model. In order to release the binding you do need to use your pole.
 

Christy

Angel Diva
How was the skiing for hubs? Thinking he went to the Loup?

Yup! I've been there before and like it but I really wanted to try XC this trip. He had a great time. The snow was "Sun Valley-ish", in his words--a little firm but it held an edge. Off piste was okay in spots where he found little stashes, not okay in others. He got there just before 9 and it wasn't busy at all, then it got busier throughout the morning. Lift lines looked long because nearly everyone was solo or pair; they took ~7 minutes; they never really went down.

I had **the best*** lesson of any sports lesson ever, for skate skiing, from the head of the ski school there last season. I would have paid double but I gave him a huge tip. I'd highly recommend that route.

The head of the ski school at Sun Mountain? Good to know!

A girlfriend of mine in CO says about xc skiing, “You’re going along, looking good, feeling good, and then u fall over!”
Truth.

That is somewhat reassuring! Maybe conditions and everything were just perfect when I did it last year, and I can't be so lucky every time.
 

newboots

Angel Diva
Conditions matter a LOT. I've only skied on a groomed trail once; we used to go in the back on the snowmobile tracks and follow those. Deeper snow is a challenge. It's also important to match the wax to the snow conditions/temperature. But don't listen to me; I haven't XC skied in 40 or 50 years!
 

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