I couldn’t wait any longer to try out my new cross country skis so I made plans to meet some friends in New Hampshire and get moving. Jenn, Chuckles, Little Spoon, Spencer and his dog Colden, and I all met at the Lincoln Woods Trailhead on the Kancamagus Highway. It was so cold, about 15 degrees. Every winter it’s a shock what that feels like, and I layered up even though we’d be doing an aerobic activity. I even started with my heaviest mittens because my hands were getting numb trying to get everything set up in the parking lot. Spoon had to hold my skis down so I could lock my boots in without falling over.
The Lincoln Woods Trail is great for beginners because it is almost completely flat. There was enough snow to ski, but it wasn’t ideal, not yet deep enough to completely cover every rock and root and railroad tie (it follows an abandoned railroad grade). There were plenty of tracks already out though so we weren’t the only ones thinking it was time for skiing.
It was my very first time cross country skiing, Jenn had been a handful of times before, Chuckles was more experienced but still a beginner, and Spencer was way better than the rest of us but game to go slow. Spoon’s skis were broken so he was just walking with microspikes, which was still pretty much my speed most of the time. I started out basically walking in the skis, although I did eventually get more into the kick and glide motion. The snow got better as we got farther into the woods which made it easier to ski correctly. I was even able to get rid of my mid layer and downgrade my hat and gloves.
At the end of the trail, we had a snack and then decided to take the short side trail out to Franconia Falls. That trail got narrower than the wide railroad bed we’d been on, and also had more ups and downs. I was having a hard time not just sliding backward on the ups because they usually also involved avoiding rocks or roots and I couldn’t get a good grip. When the trail started dropping off on one side, I chose to take my skis off and walk the rest of the way in the interest of not rolling downhill into the river.
Everyone else ended up walking at some point also. We eventually made it back to the main trail and started heading back to the trailhead. I was definitely getting more into the groove on the way back, although there were brief periods where I felt like I was regressing too.
Colden kept us entertained by repeatedly stopping right in front of people, sometimes even laying in the track. In the game of chicken, he always won. I’d slow down until he got out of the way anyway.
We did a little over 6 miles total, which I thought was very respectable for a first time. And I only fell twice! I was getting a little tired by the end so I was happy to see the last bridge. But I can’t wait to get out skiing again!
Most photos by Little Spoon – I gave him my camera on the way back as he had free hands.