Falling on my butt in the Sierra Nevada

Believe it or not, despite being from Iowa and having lived nearly my entire adult in places where snow covers the ground several months of the year, my first time cross-country skiing was over Valentine’s Day weekend.

We were fortunate enough to have great weather and a free cabin to stay in that sat on the south shore of Donner Lake. The associated town is Truckee, and the area has  quite a different feel from it than the towns sitting around Lake Tahoe just down the road.  It’s a bit slower paced with a community vibe, as more permanent residents live here year-round.

Rather than downhill skiing, we opted for cross-country at Tahoe Donner Cross Country.  For about $34/person you get equipment and several hours of attempted self-mutilation, er I mean, unbounded skiing along paths of varying degrees of difficulty. Suffice it to say that I stayed on the beginning (green-marked) trails and stayed in the ski grooves.

To give you a sense of how novel all this was to me, when you check out your equipment they asked, “Stride or skate?”  I answered with what sounded like the right answer, if only because I thought skating meant ice-skating.  I’m glad I did because I doubt my first time out I would have been able to manage the other, which in fact is basically the movement of ice-skating but with skis on your feet.  Striding gave me a clear path and an easy introduction to cross-country skiing.  However, because I stayed within the grooves, I didn’t really learn how to stop, so when the downhill parts arrived, I resolved to 1)enjoy the adrenaline rush of acceleration, 2)panic when i realized I wasn’t in control and didn’t know how to stop properly, 3)tumble roughly or awkwardly on my ass or face, depending on my mood, then scramble to get out of the way for skiers behind me that were more adept.

Tahoe Donner Cross Country is a great place to get your feet wet, er, I mean cold.  And they have actual home-made food served up in the small cafeteria, including veggie and cornbread, which really hits the spot.  Though a short trip, the four of us (Claudia, Gloria, Wendy, and myself) also managed to fit in some snow-ball fights and a stare-down with a raccoon.

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~ by Ryan Van Lenning on March 15, 2010.

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