Sunday, February 14, 2010

It started with a trip north to Minocqua...

Cathy and I...the top and the bottom of the cross country food chain

...and it ended with a near sucking chest wound as I fell hard on the tip of my ski.  But I made it out of the woods with all my last bits of strength and up that last hill toward the lodge to find my friend Natalie welcoming me with open arms.  She said, “Are you ok?  Cathy went looking for you. Ellen thinks she sent you the wrong way.”  I replied, “I’m fiiiiine.  I think that Into the Wild kid was a wussy. “  Only I didn’t say wussy.

My chance to finally learn cross-country skiing with trusted friends who wouldn’t judge if I threw a tantrum in the woods.  Cross-country skiing is all work and no play when you're first learning.  And it was indeed the big adjustment I thought it would be compared to downhill skiing, mentally and physically.  Periodically I found myself on a trail puzzled why everyone was pulling away from me, only to look down and see I had forgotten to keep skiing.  Gravity is never your friend in cross-country skiing…it simply keeps you stuck to the Earth but does nothing for your forward movement except downhill where it then tries to kill you. 

Ellen sends me with the map, a kiss and a prayer....

I didn’t need to fall back on too much whining except from an inseam standpoint where I really lacked The Right Stuff compared to my very fit friends.  Eventually I got tired of looking at their asses and wandered off on a set of easier trails toward the lodge….or so I thought.  Here's a sign...  Solid blue….lots of triangles….hmmm...the map says DIFFICULT.  Well, sheeeeeeeeeeit.

I went up this hill mind you...

On my way down....

And it was a beautiful trail worth the trouble I found.   My two days of skiing concluded with two Olympic falls, the first where I landed so hard on my bottom that my hat popped off my head as if pumped and shot from an airgun.  The second, a chest goring by the tip of my ski as I folded like a pretzel at the bottom of a steep downhill, thankfully cushioned by my neck gator that I had shoved inside my coat at the breastbone when I got hot. Since xc skis have no edges, don’t release and the heels swing free, there is all manner of twisted and mangled wreckage one can become at the bottom of even a gentle downhill.  And yet I rose from that last yard sale determined to get to Natalie to tell her my joke.  

Our last day snowshoeing on the lake.  Flat.  Fun.  No pain.


  1. Jules, A well written account...had me laughing. Now, watch the Olympics and see the Cross Country athletes make a mockery of the efforts of us mortals.

  2. Have me laughing too. Glad you're okay. Hope you'll be equipped to go locally before you forget everything you learned the hard way!

  3. You were a champ Julie. No tears, tantrums or testiness-all things the rest of us went through when learning to cross country ski!
    Great fun and looking forward to next year.

  4. I have been chuckling all day about your description of your hat popping off! Hope your impromptu chest drain is healing nicely.