As outdoors pursuits go, cross-country skiing can be exceedingly useful to the serious wilderness enthusiast. Just donning these skis can make even the most ordinary outdoorsman or outdoors woman look like a highly dignified and competent winter traveller – provided, of course, you do it in winter.
Over the right terrain, cross-country skis often provide a quicker and more effortless means of transportation than snowshoeing does. Moreover, a good cross-country skier can cover a lot of ground in a relatively short amount of time – which is especially great if you have just skied over a hibernating bear. The best part is, should you decide to carry a rifle along, people will just think you are practicing for a biathlon. (Again, but only if you do this in winter.)
But while cross country skiing is wonderful in theory, your skis can sometimes develop a life of their own. And, as with all inanimate objects, this is rarely a good thing.
In fact, sometimes, out of sheer boredom or perhaps even maliciousness, that innocent looking pair of glorified planks can quickly turn into your worst enemy.
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Like all wayward beings, environmental factors are often to blame. After all, they are not born bad.
In fact, cross-country skis rarely cause too much harm when you use them on groomed trails over level ground, which is their natural environment. If you are cross-country skiing near ground that is the least bit unlevel, however, your skis can, and often will, quickly decide that it would be far more exciting to do a little downhill ski role-playing. And they will generally do this without your consent.
One moment you will be trudging along at three miles an hour through the hardwoods. The next you are creating a sonic boom – or at least that’s what you hope that noise was.
It would be great if it ended there – or even in a nearby snowbank.
But, of course, that is never the case.
Should there be several trees or rocks on that slope, your skis will then, hopefully, decide that they are, at that moment, downhill slalom skis. Believe me, you want this.
What you don’t want is for the slope you are on to end abruptly, high over a valley. Because that is when those same skis will decide they would like to have a ski-jumping experience they can tell their grandkids about. In my experience, those are the worst kind of skis.
Well, maybe not.
Actually, the worst kind of skis are the ones that are not getting along. Because those are the kind of skis that decide they need a little time apart – which would be fine, if you were not wearing them at the time.
These are the kind of skis that I also fear most, because though they might get over a split quickly, it will probably take you a whole lot longer, especially if one ski decides to follow left fork in the trail and the other decides to follow the right one.
These are the kind of things an outdoors enthusiast needs to be aware of before deciding to place their fate in a pair of cross-country skis. Because while they do a good job in getting you from point A to point B, if you are not paying attention to your surroundings, things can rapidly go downhill from there.