Gliding on Snow

If snow-shoeing is walking on snow, cross-country skiing is gliding on it. If you’re skilled, it’s more like a kick-then-glide. (If you’re really skilled, you also use a skating style. I mostly glide.)

Nowadays, it’s considered the best cardiovascular exercise because it works the entire body. In the past, it was considered a form of transportation.

For me, it’s another way to gets into the clean outdoors. It’s another reason I come to the far-north in winter.

It’s not surprising that I love it since its roots are Nordic and so are mine. The word “ski” is based on an old Norse word meaning “stick of wood.” Sami (native) hunters from Lapland, where my grandparents were born, used them for transportation. Early explorers used them to reach the South Pole. They’ve been used in warfare, too; Finnish ski troops successfully halted a Soviet Union invasion in 1939-40, and U.S. troops of the 10th Mountain Division were deployed to the mountains of Italy later in WWII.

My first pair, around 1970, were thick wooden sticks with one band of leather over the foot. My current skies are much easier to use, since my toes are attached. I ski on groomed trails when I can find them but will go out into anything if I must. The point is to get out and get moving.

Jeff and I did just that recently, grateful that about 84% of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is forested so there are lots of good woodland trails. Find out more about the history of gliding on skis here, and photos and captions below.

We joined a fundraiser called “Glide-‘N-Gorge” to help maintain the trails in my hometown. It was a warm day for early March.
The gorging part of “Glide-‘N-Gorge.” 🙂 The fundraiser included a chili stop, offering five types to choose from. Volunteers brought all the equipment and food out on sleds.
The creek (pronounced “crick” in the local accent) was running strong on this balmy day. I remember “going smelting” at the mouth of this creek as a teen. You just dipped your bucket into the water and drew out as many of the tiny fish as you could handle; they were that thick. Mom made me clean and fry them myself.
Deserts were the reward at the end of the 4-mile trail. Jeff wasted no time getting there!
The next day, we headed into Ottawa National Forest, one of two national forests in the Upper Peninsula.
Wolf or big dog? We followed the tracks a long time and disappointingly concluded it was probably a dog.
Cross-country skiing also makes you smile, especially on a sunny day. Next time you visit snow, try it!

5 thoughts on “Gliding on Snow

      1. Snowshoeing has been decent this year – as long as you go up high. We’ve barely had any snow down at 7K.


    1. Great resource Jock, thanks! We have indeed talked a lot about boating in that area, even before starting the Loop. It’s on my list! (Similar terrain to Isle Royal, which we both love.)


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