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A Fun Day of Cross-country Skiing

March 15, 2008
By JON MAGEE, For The Inter-Mountain
I should apologize for bringing you a story about skiing when spring is right around the corner, but I have been cleaning up the aftermath of the big snow we had a couple weeks ago and the subsequent rains that brought it through my front yard.

Consequently I have not had a chance to fish much the last week or so.

It was, however, the best snowfall we had all year.

It dropped more than a foot of snow in the mountains and with that much there is nothing better than strapping on a pair of cross-country skis and seeking some backcountry fun.

With numerous trails, logging roads, open sods areas and forest service roads on the National Forest there are many excellent places to enjoy the mountains in the solitude of winter while gliding through knee-deep powder.

The resorts and state parks also offer some great trails for cross-country skiing as well as access into the backcountry areas.

My friend Jack and I had been waiting all winter for enough snow to ski the National Nordic area of Canaan Valley and last Sunday we finally had a chance to get together for an incredible day of kicking and gliding in the bright sun and deep powder.

We normally take the lift at Canaan and then go behind the resort where there is a pipeline connecting Bald Knob and Weiss Knob with trails interspersed throughout the area.

This is a great place to ski.

There are all types of terrain and trails for everyone.

Single-track trails run through pine and spruce thickets, along creeks and through hardwood forests.

Open glades allow you to carve wide turns through the powder and enjoy the views of the surrounding mountains.

One favorite place is an area called Birches Garden where there is a nice open stand of birch trees widely spaced allowing you to make turns while negotiating through the trees down the gently sloping hill.

It’s big fun until you catch a sapling on the shoulder and tumble into a waist deep pocket of snow, which of course I did, but even that’s not so bad.

At least it was a soft landing.

Between chuckles, Jack asked if I was OK. When he realized I was, he burst out laughing while fishing out his camera to take pictures as I tried to free myself from the predicament I was in, spread eagle on my back, arms and legs buried in the snow.

As Jack was amusing himself at my expense, I managed to free myself from the entanglement, struggle to an upright position and finally get back on my skis.

By this time, I was also laughing at the spectacle I must have made laying in the snow looking much like a turtle on its back, according to Jack.

I am always surprised more people do not participate in this sport.

Many folks downhill ski and we have some excellent resorts in the area, but there is so much great skiing nearby with no crowds or lift lines.

It is great exercise and an excellent way to get some fresh air in the winter.

Cross-country skiing is easy to learn, and there is a place to ski, providing we have the snow, close to home.

Our mountains are spectacular when snow covered in winter and I cannot think of a better way to enjoy the entire snow-draped splendor than going out with a couple friends and making our own tracks in some fresh West Virginia powder.



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