This winter I decided to take up cross country skiing. Due to a knee injury I’ve not been able to exercise or be as active as I’d like to be. I needed to find an activity that would keep me moving, close to nature and help clear my mind. I found the sliding motion of skiing was just the right movement and didn’t cause any pain to my knee. It’s been quite an awesome workout and has really increased my stamina and endurance. Mr. Darcy has also taken it up so we get to spend time together and it’s fun to motivate each other. But the biggest benefit I’ve enjoyed is that cross country skiing motivates me to get outside and connect with nature during the winter months. It’s been difficult when our winters are so frigid to even want to venture outdoors. We have gone skiing in as cold as -30C and since we are constantly moving we can stay pretty warm. Also investing in some quality clothing has helped too. Now our motto is “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing!”
We had both gone skiing as kids but needed to learn the basics again. We bought second hand equipment and decided to go with the 3 pin bindings because it was the cheaper option. If we didn’t end up falling in love with cross country skiing we wouldn’t have wasted a ton of money on brand new equipment. But we did end up falling in love and now are dreaming about upgrading our equipment for next year!
We started out at the Windsor Park Nordic Centre. It’s a golf course in the summer and transforms into ski trails in the winter. The best part is we can go in the evening because there are lights on the trails and there are less people at that time. There is a herd of deer that we always see wandering around, a river with a few bridges and lots of fun little hills to fly down. We watched lots of videos to learn the techniques for going up and down hills. But the more we practiced the easier it got. Our goal was to take our new skills out of the city and into the wild before the end of winter.
Our first little ski trip was to the Sandilands Provincial Forest in south eastern Manitoba. It’s about a 40 minute drive from my parents place so we stayed the weekend with them and headed out in the mornings for our ski adventures. I forget how close we are to such beautiful scenery and wild places sometimes. We are very lucky to live in a city but have easy access to parks and forests.
When we found the entrance to the trails we were lucky to meet a local who helped us map out our journey. Good thing we met him because we were going to attempt the treacherous yellow trail first and ended up doing the green flat trail instead. The green trail took us through a good variety of scenery and looped back around to a cozy warming hut. Fresh snow had fallen overnight so the trees were magical and you could see all of the new tracks from animals passing through. It was incredible the amount of deer that followed along the ski trails. We spotted all types of tracks from rabbits, mice, coyote and even fox. I was pointing them out to Darcy as we went along and he started to learn what to look for too.
In total we did 11km that day and were so happy we packed some hot chocolate for when we got back to the car to warm up. We rested for a little bit and then decided to drive around to the other side of the trails and do one more before heading home for the day. It had way more hills and we were excited to move a little faster since the other trail was very flat. We got so excited when we saw a warning sign that a steep hill was ahead. Wiped out only a couple times but we were definitely more confident on our skis and super tired from all of the refreshing air outside.
The next morning we went back to the Sandilands to try more trails and make the most out of the weekend. It was much colder and we had left our equipment out in the car overnight. We crossed over the highway and started down the red trail. Darcy took the first hill and wiped out at the bottom. When he got up he found that his binding had snapped off. Bummer. I think the metal was so brittle from being out in -30C all night that it easily broke. We barely got 5 mins away from the car and had to turn back. Luckily it happened early on and not 5 kms out in the forest. Oh well what you going to do. We decided to check out the warming hut and start a fire in the stove. I had fun taking photos and enjoying being surround by the peaceful forest and fresh air.
We drove back feeling like the day was not a complete waste but a wonderful chance to get away from the city and just enjoy the beauty of winter. Cross country skiing gave us the ability to venture out into the forest in the middle of winter and get close to nature when I normally would just be curled up under a blanket all weekend. I love that it can take us to places that I would possibly never get to see if it weren’t for those groomed tracks that we can glide on into the forest. Can’t wait for more skiing adventures!
If you’ve never tried cross country skiing and would love to give it a try, I recommend checking out Windsor Park Nordic Centre. You can rent equipment at $10/2 hours and even take lessons if you want to learn proper technique. There are only a few good weekends left before winter starts to fade away so now is your chance! Or add this winter activity to your bucket list for next year. Have fun!