Discovering Nordic Skiing

NELSAPNELSAP advanced
in NELSAP Forum Posts: 150
So on the 31st, after never really trying nordic skiing, I finally did, taking a learn to ski lesson at Lapland Lake in the Andirondacks. I was going to try last year, but there was almost no snow. It's crazy to think that I had never tried it, and I don't have any real reasons as to why not - except that I try to maximize my time enjoying downhill skiing. But, as I have gotten into triathlons the last few years, the need for a high intensity winter workout became clearer to stay in shape, and xc skiing is a natural fit.

Lapland Lake was a terrific place to learn - great Liftopia deal on lesson, rentals, and day pass - $52. Food was delicious in the cafe. A bit hard to get to as the roads are not kept as clean up there as the major roads - it is in Benson, NY, which is fairly isolated.

I look forward to taking another lesson soon, and getting out and trying some more areas. Wild Wings, Stump Sprouts, Hildene, Pine Ridge, Rikert, Viking, and Garnet Hill are on my to visit list.

I also have discovered that there are quite a few "free" xc areas, that get some maintenance - either from volunteers grooming trails, or towns maintaining, etc, and have trail maps or limited facilities. These are hard to find on search engines. There are quite a few within 30 min of me - Wilton Wildlife Preserve, Crandall Park, Lake George Rec Trails (Gage Brook ski area), Steve's Trails (Brookhaven Golf Course), and Spa State Park.

What are your favorite areas? Do you know of other "free" areas that have maps, trail maintenance but are lesser known?

Enjoy some pics from Lapland. Jeremy

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Comments

  • obienickobienick expert
    Posts: 853
    NELSAP said:

    But, as I have gotten into triathlons the last few years, the need for a high intensity winter workout became clearer to stay in shape, and xc skiing is a natural fit.

    You can say that again.  The classical diagonal stride technique is arguably the single best exercise utilizing all major muscle group.  That's how NordicTrack exercise machines made their name by making wooden diagonal stride machines in the 80s or so.

    As someone who has XC skied since I was 4 or so (alpine at 2!) and raced for 8 years, I'd recommend sticking with the diagonal stride, especially as you look to keep your costs down. People really need to get their fundamentals down before progressing to skating. There's been an explosion of late in teaching skating too early if not as a never-ever.  A lot of free/low price areas don't maintain trails to what you need for skating (heck, even a lot of full-on areas don't ... I'm sorry, an 8-foot wide trail with one classical track is not wide enough to skate) and skate skis will be more pricey than standard fishscale touring skis.

    I do not know about anything free in your neck of the woods. But when I was living in Binghamton the county offered skiing at one of their parks for $3 a day. Very worth it.  If you

    For full-on areas, I've heard Garnet Hill is great. I've never been to them in the winter, but they are very friendly to us geologists in the summer.   For New England, hands down the single best is Jackson Ski Touring Foundation (in Jackson NH obviously).  Great Glen Trails, Bretton Woods, Windblown and Trapps are all great.  I think Stowe has greatly improved their grooming in recent years.  Waterville Valley has been hit and miss over the years with ownership changes. I don't know how they are under Sununu ownership.
  • ski_itski_it expert
    Posts: 1,651

    Looks very sweet JD. I just happened to have gotten back from a short 4k Nordic on Mt ISNE and into the state forest. I had to break trail all the way, as usual. Can't say I have tried any free maintained trails. I've seen the signs along NH 302 for winter ski trails in the White Mtn National Forest but again, never done them. I did try Jay's free trail system a couple decades ago but I wouldn't have called it maintained. No doubt things there have changed since then.  

      

    ISNE-I Skied New England | NESAP-the New England Ski Area Project | SOSA-Saving Our Ski Areas - Location SW of Boston MA
  • ski_itski_it expert
    Posts: 1,651
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    ISNE-I Skied New England | NESAP-the New England Ski Area Project | SOSA-Saving Our Ski Areas - Location SW of Boston MA
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  • marcskimarcski advanced
    Posts: 206
    Jeremy, get some light duty XCD's with a 3 pin leather/hiking type boot. If you have any hiking or biking trails nearby, you can go right out the door without even driving up to the mountains. It was one of the best investments I made.

    Something like this: (you can even get a cable for that binding).

    http://www.orscrosscountryskisdirect.com/backcountry-fischer-s-bound-98-skis-package.html





  • ski_itski_it expert
    edited January 9 Posts: 1,651
    In VT either ski a different Nordic center & stay at a different Inn each nite or ski Inn to Inn
    Not free:
    http://inntoinn.com/vermont-ski-vacations/self-guided-ski-tour/?gclid=CLGDvvyRtNECFcOLswodUKQAng

    The set up I use off track is similar to what Marcski recommends. Rossi BackCountry metal edges with same type of boot but NNN binding. No protrusion for the 3 pins as the rod is in the sole, so easier to hike with and you can drive with them on. Not as fast as other setups but I'm a plodder.
    ISNE-I Skied New England | NESAP-the New England Ski Area Project | SOSA-Saving Our Ski Areas - Location SW of Boston MA
  • mapnutmapnut expert
    Posts: 778

    I've had cross country skis for more than 20 years but I've used them less than a dozen times. I like it a lot, and there's a big woodland park in my town with over 5 miles of trails. I've had a few enjoyable outings there but it seems conditions are rarely worth going, at least on a weekend. If we have enough new snow to make it worthwhile on a given day, the roads aren't cleared. And if it snows on a weekday it seems it's always iced-up by the weekend. There's no place to ski within a walk of my house. One time the skiing was good but I couldn't find my boots! I've never tried a resort up north because if I'm going north I'm skiing alpine.

    When I lived in Maine I used to go snowshoeing, and loved being out in the woods in winter. Jeremy's photos reminded me of that.

  • rickbolgerrickbolger expert
    edited January 9 Posts: 1,061
    Will second Obienick's list with Jackson XC on top of the food chain.  Have been to most of those he listed.

    Black Mt of Maine is also world class XC but I've never used that track.

    Here in NJ we have a couple XC centers but I just go to my local schools or rec fields when conditions warrant. They border open spaces and have some nice wooded trails that are occasionally good to ski on.

    Belleayre used to have free XC.  Now that they've been taken over by the ham-fisted ORDA I don't know if that's still the case.

    Speaking of ORDA, curious Jeremy if your newfound love for "nordic skiing" will embrace further aspects of "nordic skiing"?  They have a nordic center a bit north of you where you can soar to the full heights of the sport!


    ;)
  • loafasaurloafasaur intermediate
    Posts: 26
    Boy, do I wish I could get back on the skinny skis!  As Obienick said, classic technique is a total body workout.  Skating is an even better cardio workout.

    X-C, especially classic technique, makes you feel like a metronome when you get in a groove.  Keep your arms STRAIGHT all the way from pole plant to when you push off at the end of the stroke.You hold your hand HIGH at the beginning of the stroke and have your hand down by your KNEE when you push off at the end of the stroke.  You get a stronger push and you avoid involving your chest muscles so you don't get as tired.  This applies to waxless skis too.

    The legs:  I'm sure you've seen the "forward lean" classical position.  It's actually an optical illusion.  The only time you straighten your leg is at the end of your kick, when you're pushing off with that ski to propel yourself forward.  When you do that kick, you transfer your weight to your OTHER ski, which is DIRECTLY BELOW YOUR BODY and with your KNEE BENT to keep your center of gravity low and stable.  You actually want to keep your head as still as possible as you load up on the weighted, knee-bent ski and prepare to thrust yourself forward with it.  So you concentrate on keeping your knee bent on your weighted evenly balanced on the ski underneath you, and when you give it a good kick you straighten your leg at the end of the stride.  So your weight should always be centered over a bent knee.  See?  Forward lean is an illusion.

    Another little trick equally applicable to wax or waxless:  If you're worried about grip going uphill, give the snow a firm slap with your ski at the beginning of your stride.  It helps the waxless scales or the wax grab the snow.  But don't do it too hard.  If you do, the ski vibrates and you actually produce LESS grip, not more.  The only thing real hard slaps are good for is to scare other skiers to get out of your way!

    I have a venerable pair of Asnes 210 cm all-wood beauties.  Pine tar base. WAX!  I don't understand why people are afraid of wax.  Just read the label.  Then if you want more kick, go to a softer/higher-temp wax.  If you want more glide, go to a harder, lower-temp wax.  It's also common (at least it was in the Jurassic) to put on a harder wax and then put 18" -  24" of softer "kicker" wax under the foot.  Gives you more grab going uphill but you still get the glide going downhill.  The only downside is that when you come down a hill and are slowing to a stop, the Kicker wax can grab and you end up doing a face plant.  Have to be on your toes for that!

    If you are in doubt about which wax to use, start with the harder/lower temp wax.  You can put softer wax over harder wax, but you CAN'T put harder wax over softer wax.  You have to scrape off the softer wax first.

    Part of the reason people dislike wax skis is that the wax wears off plastic-base skis so quickly.  You can go all day on one coat of wax on pine tar!  Well, maybe re-wax at lunch, especially if the temp has changed.

    Without checking, I bet you could find excellent all-wood skis on ebay or sites like that. The graybeards you meet skiing will be envious.  But put new bindings on 'em.

    It is so cool to be out on the deck on a crisp fall day, propane torch in hand, a small can of pine tar on the table next to the skis, your wife trying to be inconspicuous as she watches through the window.  Ah, the smell of pine tar.  You use the torch to heat it up, then wipe the excess off with a COTTON rag.  Don't go nuts with the torch or you'll singe your ski.  And don't let the pine tar run down the sides of the ski.  It's sticky after all.  (OK, it's not as sticky as klister, but we can't have a discussion of klister here because we try to keep it G-rated.  It's impossible to put enough emphasis on how sticky klister is without swearing.  Short summary:  If x-c conditions are so wet or icy that you need klister, go downhill skiing.  Survivors of klister will laud your good judgment.  We also have support groups....)

    The pleasures of x-c skiing are quite different from alpine.  Zooming down an uncrowded downhill trail is a Zen-like experience.  You are there, focused on that moment, playing with gravity, the g-force when you make a turn, varying snow conditions and terrain.  The views are wonderful, and there is the camarderie of stopping and comparing notes with your friends.  Cross-country is about appreciating your winter surroundings.  You see wildlife, guaranteed red squirrels and bubbly, songful chickadees.  Tracks of rabbit, deer, perhaps moose.  Who knows what you'll see.  Mice? A fox?  Owls are unusual excect at dawn or dusk, but you might find the remains of a meal one had with a rodent.  There is the endless beauty of the woods in winter.  Nature never makes a straight line.  I once found a place after an 8" snowfall where a partridge had buried itself in the snow to spend the night, and before I came along, it burrowed to the surface and flew away, leaving two perfect wing prints on the fresh snow.  You'd NEVER see that downhill skiing.  Right now it's the dead of winter.  But starting next month there will be subtle signs that spring is coming.  Buds swelling on the birches an poplars.  Brooks just starting to loosen up at the edges. And people you meet x-c skiing are friendly.  They want to share their stories, where they're from, where they've skied that day, where they're planning to go, asking how far it is to get there since you just came from that way.  You thank each other for breaking/smoothing out the trail.  Compare that to chairlift rides with strangers.  X-C is a warmer experience in more ways than one.

    Sorry to be long-winded.  I haven't posted here for awhile, but I've been lurking.  I'm signed up for Maine Adaptive Sports this Friday.  I'll be the middle guy of the 3-man synchronized-skiers group on the bunny slope.  The Maine Adaptive volunteers are amazing.  They do everything except wipe my nose.  Everybody!  Get out there and appreciate winter for me!

  • obienickobienick expert
    Posts: 853
    I would highly recommend against 3-pin/duckbill bindings or the older-style SNS (with the metal toe loop in front as opposed to under). The only use of new 3-pin/duckbill bindings is tele gear.  They are antiquated systems for XC and which boots and bindings are getting harder and harder to find.  NNN is nearly universal outside of racing boots.  And it is pretty cheap too.
  • NJSkiNJSki advanced
    Posts: 269

    From what I was told when I was at Sugar Bowl, Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Center is the "Mecca" of x country in the USA. They even have a few lifts in their trail network!

    http://www.royalgorge.com/home


  • rickbolgerrickbolger expert
    Posts: 1,061
    loafasaur said:

    The pleasures of x-c skiing are quite different from alpine.  Zooming down an uncrowded downhill trail is a Zen-like experience.  You are there, focused on that moment, playing with gravity, the g-force when you make a turn, varying snow conditions and terrain.  The views are wonderful, and there is the camarderie of stopping and comparing notes with your friends.  Cross-country is about appreciating your winter surroundings.  You see wildlife, guaranteed red squirrels and bubbly, songful chickadees.  Tracks of rabbit, deer, perhaps moose.  Who knows what you'll see.  Mice? A fox?  Owls are unusual excect at dawn or dusk, but you might find the remains of a meal one had with a rodent.  There is the endless beauty of the woods in winter.  Nature never makes a straight line.  I once found a place after an 8" snowfall where a partridge had buried itself in the snow to spend the night, and before I came along, it burrowed to the surface and flew away, leaving two perfect wing prints on the fresh snow.  You'd NEVER see that downhill skiing.  Right now it's the dead of winter.  But starting next month there will be subtle signs that spring is coming.  Buds swelling on the birches an poplars.  Brooks just starting to loosen up at the edges. And people you meet x-c skiing are friendly.  They want to share their stories, where they're from, where they've skied that day, where they're planning to go, asking how far it is to get there since you just came from that way.  You thank each other for breaking/smoothing out the trail.  Compare that to chairlift rides with strangers.  X-C is a warmer experience in more ways than one.
    Author! Author!
  • CannonballCannonball advanced
    Posts: 123
    Jeremy, welcome to the world of cheap, healthy, nice-paced skiing!

    I XC at least as many hours/year as I downhill, and I actually like it a lot more.  The list of reasons is long, but at the top is:
    1) bring the dog
    2) exercise
    3) cost
    4) essentially combines my 2 favorite activities skiing and hiking
    5) constant exploring.

    As far as recommendations for favorite areas and free areas, the simple answer is: Every National and State Forrest trailhead.  Compared to groomed Nordic centers I much prefer hiking trails, snowshoe trails, random open woods, golf courses, closed roads, beaches, retired railroad beds, power lines, NELSAP areas, etc.  Just show up anywhere with a trailhead or a flat, open surface and go.  90% of the time someone will have beaten you to it and broken a trail. For the other 10% of the time you can get a little extra exercise and feel good about giving it back. 

    Today I skied 12" of fluff on a golf course in SE Mass.  It was more fun than the 15 fantastic downhill days I've had so far this year. 
  • CannonballCannonball advanced
    Posts: 123
    This is why I XC....



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  • HarveyHarvey novice
    Posts: 15
    Nordic rocks. Truth be told on most normal ski days, I look forward to the afternoon, when I come home from Gore and head into our woods.

    I want to give an opposing opinion on NNN vs 75mm.  Be very skeptical of taking NNN into the backcountry, especially if temps are super cold.  The bindings cannot be relied upon in my experience.
  • CannonballCannonball advanced
    Posts: 123
    Harvey said:

    Be very skeptical of taking NNN into the backcountry, especially if temps are super cold.  The bindings cannot be relied upon in my experience.
    Just curious what you mean by "cannot be relied upon"?  I have skied NNN (and NNN BC) in all conditions and all temps for 25+ years. I don't necessarily love them or hate them, but I can't picture any way in which they'd be unreliable. Their simplicity is their primary strength. Virtually no moving parts and almost nothing to break or fiddle with. Interested to hear you experience. 
  • obienickobienick expert
    edited January 10 Posts: 853
    I have to agree with Cannonball.  I've taken NNN into the backcountry countless times. I grew up with basically 15km of backcountry xc trails right across from my parents' house.  Always used standard NNN.  NNN is superior to 3-pin/duckbill in every respect.

    There is a specific backcountry version of NNN with basically thicker boot soles, thicker bar, larger ribs. Generally these boots also provide more ankle support. This is vital for the larger, partial metal-edged backcountry skis.  But a standard touring NNN binding is just fine in the back country for probably 99.9% of conditions and 99.9% of trails.

    My father did use the old-school SNS system (note not the modern SNS system; the modern SNS system is basically NNN with a slightly different bar location). He would have issues at times due to the different step-in nature of the old front metal loop style with vertical pin SNS bindings.
  • Bill29Bill29 advanced
    Posts: 235
    Jeremy, if you want to make the workout even more strenuous, don't use groomed tracks. Break your own trail, but come back the same way. It's easier. There are lots of places to do X-C. Many golf courses will let you kick and glide as long as you avoid the greens. There are places in cities, too, as I'm sure you know. In Worcester, for example, X-C skiers make trails on city parks like Institute Park and, especially, Green Hill Park, a big, high, cold, windy place that is hilly and has a golf course. Classic kick and glide is a little more demanding than skating (but usually not quite as fast), and there is a carry-over into triathlon. The kick is just running on sticks and the alternating pole plants and pull resemble swimming strokes a  bit. You may even get to like it so much that you'll use triathlons to get in shape for X-C skiing.
  • NELSAPNELSAP advanced
    Posts: 150
    Thanks everybody for your notes and comments! All very helpful! I am really enjoying it so far - check out my trip report post from the 14th at Lapland Lake.
  • JimKJimK advanced
    edited January 18 Posts: 213
    Nordic can be very nice. My wife and I have our own classic gear and I have done X-C skiing on and off since early '70s. We did it once last winter in WV. http://www.epicski.com/image/id/1259584/width/900/height/900/flags/LL 40+ years ago I was a strong alpine skier, an intermediate X-C skier, and could run six miles in 30 minutes flat. I always regretted not pursuing competitive X-C while I had that level of running fitness, but I just didn't have the time, easy access to plentiful snow, or true interest since as a young person I liked the excitement of alpine skiing better. My wife has now retired from downhill skiing, but will do X-C and snowshoeing. So I keep dabbling in the latter two to engage her on certain ski trips that we make together.
  • ski_itski_it expert
    edited January 19 Posts: 1,651
    Well there is backcountry and there is BACKCOUNTRY. And then again it may not be the system but the binding mfr.
    I'll never pretend my backcountry is your backcountry. I don't go out for extended treks and camp out in the Arctic but I know I would scare the bejesus out of some track skiers with my little backcountry.
    My current NNN system works pretty well. My previous, I think was SDS, a front toe loop bar, drove me crazy. Snow would work its way inside the binding making it near impossible to either release or put back on if you took it off to climb over a log or rock. But was that the system or the manufacturer?
    ISNE-I Skied New England | NESAP-the New England Ski Area Project | SOSA-Saving Our Ski Areas - Location SW of Boston MA
  • obienickobienick expert
    Posts: 853
     But was that the system or the manufacturer?
    "Yes".

    If you're referring to the metal toe bar-loop, that's the original SNS (Salomon Nordic System).  IIRC it was made exclusively by Salomon.  It was designed as a better system than the duckbill/3 pin (known as NN, the Nordic Norm developed by Rottefella).  Rottefella licensed the binding system out to other manufacturers.  Salomon kept SNS in house.

    Mid 90s or thereabouts, Rottefella came out with NNN, New Nordic Norm.  Again, licensed for other manufacturers.  If my memory is correct, NNN quickly pushed NN and SNS out of the market. 

    Salomon responded in the late 90s / early 00s with a reboot (pun not intended) to their proprietary SNS.  SNS Profil is what I referred to above as the "new" SNS, it probably accounts for 95% of SNS bindings these days.  This is pretty much a copy cat of NNN. Instead of 2 small ribs down the middle you have one larger rib and the metal bar is further forward.  For soem reason Fischer joined Salomon on the SNS.  This system bad for the Salomon and Fischer (Fischer is huge in XC) racers and they quickly came out with SNS Pilot for them, where there are 2 bars. The front bar was moved back to just behind where it is on NNN and the 2nd bar is about at the ball of your foot.  This is popular with skate racing. Fischer dumped SNS in 2005 or so, about the same time NIS (which allows SNS bindings to be used with NNN/NIS boots).

    That said, yes, the original SNS was pretty bad. Snow into that loop is a big concern off groomed trails. And it's pretty easy to slip that loop off it's hook on the binding.  My father would have a lot of trouble with that system.  I bc'd on NNN and raced on Fischer SNS.  SNS (both old and new) never really took off for the weekend warrior touring skiers and there was still lots of 3-pin/duckbill/NN bindings in use when NNN came out. The fairly proprietary nature of SNS might have something to do with this as well.

    With Fischer's dumping of SNS and the creation of NIS, one wonders how long Salomon's SNS will last.

    All in all, if anybody goes for the SNS, you're stuck with Salomon boots these days.  NNN I'd say is more superior and is far more common among non-racers.  With NIS, an NNN boot can fit on an SNS binding but not the other way around . And for the love of god and all that is holy, stick away from 3-pin/duckbill/NN.
  • flbskiflbski intermediate
    Posts: 79
    I had early versions of NNN BC freeze up trying to click back in after lunch and I've since stuck with 75 mm.  But I'm just a plodder out for a little exercise.
  • VtSkierVtSkier novice
    Posts: 5
    Bolton Valley has some very nice and challenging Nordic and backcountry terrain.
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