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kiliki
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PostWed Jan 27, 2021 4:04 pm 
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It sounds like we have some XC skiers here so I hoping to get some info. I'm a downhill skier who took a couple skate lessons in recent years, then decided that was going to be more work to master than I was up for. Last year I took a classic lesson at Sun Valley and I loved it. It was exactly what I was looking for. I took an hour private then spend the rest of the afternoon on their trail system and had a marvelous time. In retrospect, I was just skiing around the Sun Valley golf course.

I bought my own gear and went to Sun Mountain Lodge recently. I confidentially set out on my own, thinking, maybe I'll even try some blue trails--after all, I downhill, and it seems like there is nothing to this classic skiing business.

Bwahh ha ha. I fell 6 times including, somehow, on my stomach. (I should mention that my husband enthusiastically waxed my new skis and boy could I tell). So I guess I need some practice. I am little confused about what we have closer to Seattle that will be good beginner terrain for me.

I do know everything is mobbed on weekends and I will be going on weekdays. But if I should stay away from anyplace even on weekdays, let me know. I'm not a crack-of-dawn kind of person.

Are the Sno-Park maps color coded? It doesn't seem like it. Or, is the Palouse to Cascades trail indeed a beginner option at the Hyak sno-park? https://parks.state.wa.us/DocumentCenter/View/2234/Hyak?bidId=

Looking at Crystal Springs--there is a beginners loop, though it's not colored green. Any other beginner trails here?
https://parks.state.wa.us/DocumentCenter/View/58/Crystal-Springs-PDF?bidId=

Cabin Creek--The Road. Is this a decent option?

Summit East--not much in the way of green trails, it seems? At least maybe not for the extra cost (I already have a sno-park pass). Thoughts about Stevens nordic center? It seems like this is just the Mill Creek Rd, which I've driven, but don't remember how flat it is.

The Plain trail system sounds wonderful, and I see marked green trails, though that is a bit far for a day trip.

I found the grooming schedule for the I-90 sno-parks, so that's good.

Thanks for any advice and help you can provide!
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smp77
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PostWed Jan 27, 2021 4:21 pm 
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I don't think I can answer any of your questions or give any advice, just wanted to say that I'm in a similar boat. I bought some used XC gear a couple years ago and I faceplant EVERY TIME. Super fun though.

I was thinking of getting more practice on closed forest service roads, although those aren't groomed, so no classic ski track would be set. There are groomed trails near Ashford maintained by the Mount Tahoma trails Association - have you been there? The trails are roads in the summer and the facilities are well maintained.

You could also try emailing the WA State Parks Winter Rec Program (winter@parks.wa.gov). Not sure how responsive they are, but maybe they have more intel on groomed beginner trails.
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rossb
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PostWed Jan 27, 2021 6:05 pm 
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I'm pretty sure the snow parks label the pathways. Cabin Creek, for example, has everything from totally flat (the road) or quite steep, with a turn (Ozbaldy) and they are labeled. So you should be able to adjust accordingly.

But let me back up a bit. First thing for an experienced downhill skier to understand when it comes to cross country skiing: Snow plow is your friend. It won't work on deep snow, but it works great on a groomed track. Spread your legs out, point your skis together, and you slow down. Likewise, to turn you can Stem christie. You can make parallel turns with cross country skis, but it is difficult -- conditions have to be very good, and you really have to know what you are doing. The boots just don't offer the control you're used to. I've gone down some ridiculously steep (but groomed) runs on flimsy boots by doing a snow plowing/stem christie. It ain't pretty, and it is tiring, but it beats the heck out of falling all the time.

There are a bunch of different groomed cross country ski places on I-90. Unfortunately, most are mobbed on the weekends this year. I think the best bet might be Crystal Springs/Erling Stordahl. There are some nice, interesting runs there -- from beginning to intermediate. You share the space with snowmobiles initially, but not very far (which I think reduces the numbers).

For ungroomed, there are a number of flat roads, if that is your thing. A lot depends on snow level, though. The Mountain Loop is nice, but again, you may share it with a snowmobile, and you need to make sure there is enough snow (last time I was there, the skiers were carrying in places, although there weren't any snowmobiles). I think you can access the Palouse-to-Cascades trail west of the pass, but it has been so long I forget how you do that. Hopefully someone will comment, since it is a fairly nice, flat road that is worth exploring at least once. Snow level is an issue, as is finding a spot to park, but with any luck, it is a fun outing.

Oh, and there is a Facebook group that might have some ideas: https://www.facebook.com/groups/winter.recreation.
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kite
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PostWed Jan 27, 2021 6:57 pm 
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White Pass has a Nordic center, its a little busy on weekends, but very pleasant during the week.
only one black section that gets me every time.
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Cyclopath
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PostWed Jan 27, 2021 7:37 pm 
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Assuming you want groomed trails - easier to learn on because the snow is consistent.

Hyak: flat like a pancake, stunningly beautiful.  Parking fills up fast on weekends!

Cabin Creek: My favorite nearby.  The Road is an excellent beginner trail.  It's pretty flat, there are some very gradual bunny hills, just enough to practice on if you want to.  Super easy.  Medium scenery on a clear day.  Parking lot fills up by 9 am on a good weekend day.

Crystal Springs: Lots of good options here.  Forest Loop, Beginner Loop, and the Iron Horse aka John Wayne aka Palouse to Cascades.  All flat.  Parking fills up on weekends but less competitive than others.

Lake Easton: All trails here are flat except one and it's very very easy.  Very small parking lot, arrive early or late on weekends.

Stevens Nordic Center: not crazy scenic but has easy trails.  There's a big but easy hill that people gain confidence on.

Lake Wenatchee: on my list, long drive.

Plain: beautiful, lot of flat and easy, a few trails are hard - stay out of the woods.  Parking is easy.

Sleeping Lady:  lot of flat trails and some bunny hills.  Gorgeous scenery.  Easy parking?

Everybody falls a lot when they're learning and it'll pass quickly.  People coming from a downhill background tend to have trouble at first because the skis and boots are different.  If you'd like to meet at one of the "nearby" options I'll show you the important stuff I've learned skiing for the past seven years, maybe ski one of the easier blue trails with you.
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Eric Hansen
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PostWed Jan 27, 2021 8:15 pm 
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Hi, RossB speaks well about the snowplow. It is very basic but there is a buildout from it.

Assuming you have a semi-groomed moderate slope in front of you start with a snowplow then release it into a parallel stance (gliding faster) then reaffirm the snowplow (slowing) to get a feel for the control that comes from weighting the skis, and  tilting them slightly. The tilt raises the outside edges.

Other drill is to weight one ski at a time that way (unweighting the other) so that you are slowly turning one way, then switching the weighting to the other ski and turning the other way. This is a confidence building drill at the top of a slope that reminds you of what works.

It is also worth spending time on the bunny slope of a downhill area doing this. On a cross country trail it is not always immediately obvious why you got down the hill/round the turn. But on the bunny hill you can make a turn or two - pause to reflect on what happened and why - and then make more turns.

Luck with it! It is a ton of fun, well worth learning.

I'd also scan youtube for instructional videos.
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treeswarper
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PostWed Jan 27, 2021 8:40 pm 
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Eric Hansen wrote:
It is also worth spending time on the bunny slope of a downhill area doing this. On a cross country trail it is not always immediately obvious why you got down the hill/round the turn. But on the bunny hill you can make a turn or two - pause to reflect on what happened and why - and then make more turns.

This will help immensely.  I became quite comfy on those skinny skis with shoes after dedicating a winter to it.  This was way back and I had new fangled fishscale skis.  A friend and I went to the Leavenworth ski hill during the week when it was closed.  We'd work our way higher and higher and get used to the little skis. 

We later went to White Pass and skied every blue and green run on our edgeless touring skis.  I won't mention all the crashes and bruises and even blood from that day.  We were telecrashing  I could do about six turns and then crash.  My big toes turned black because the boots, which were more like shoes would twist around during a crash and cut of my toe's will to live. 

It's a matter of getting used to the no edged light weight, no heel locked down feelings.  Control is different and yes, snowplowing is your friend.  So can be dragging a pole to slow down, or controlled crashes.  It's very important to be able to turn because some of the places I have granola skied at have a hill with a tree in the way at the bottom so you have to be able to make that turn or you'll be kissing the tree.  If you are clenching your toes, concentrate on relaxing them.  That's a trick that works for alpine skiing also.  I guess relaxing the toes relaxes the rest of you a bit?

Another way to become one with the skis is to ditch your poles and ski back and forth on a flat area.    White Pass has a groomed area for doing that.  Your balance over the skis will improve as will your stride.  Then, when you have your poles back, try to work on pushing off with the poles when it swings back to your hips.  You shouldn't be planting them up ahead of your foot in classic skiing.  It's all about energy efficiency and conservation.  The poles swing up to your foot, go in, push off.  Pole straps are tight because you kind of push to pole out of your grip and bring it back, grip near top, push off, repeat.  Mileage will make it better.

Enjoy. 

If you want to be mean, put some klister on your husband's skis.


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CC
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PostWed Jan 27, 2021 8:54 pm 
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Cyclopath wrote:
Sleeping Lady:  lot of flat trails and some bunny hills.  Gorgeous scenery.  Easy parking?

Although it abuts Sleeping Lady, this is actually one of the Leavenworth Winter Sports Club  www.skileavenworth.com areas, i.e. the Icicle Trails. They also have two other Nordic areas, Golf Course (mostly flat) and Ski Hill (not flat).  You would need to buy a day pass per person.

Lake Wenatchee state park has four areas: North Park (flatest), South Park, Kahler Glen/Nason Ridge, and Chiwawwa.  All areas are snowpark pass with groomed sticker

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Foist
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PostThu Jan 28, 2021 7:54 am 
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A lot of good advice here from RossB and Cyclopath, I don't have much to add.  The only things that come to mind are:
-If you can make it back to Sun Mountain Lodge, take a lesson there.  They have good teachers and a great practice hill.
-The Hyak parking fills up, but mainly because of the sledding hill. You can take the same flat trail along Keechelus Lake (aka the "Palouse to Cascades" trail) from the other end, from Crystal Springs, where you're more likely to find a spot.
-The Road at Cabin Creek (unlike the Keechelus Lake trail) is not *totally* flat.  In fast conditions, there are sections where you will start sliding without kicking and, if you are not at least a little confident, you will probably want to know how to snow plow.
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Cyclopath
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PostThu Jan 28, 2021 10:12 am 
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That's a "trick" to snow plowing.  People say pizza and French fries, but just pointing your skis like a pizza slice won't do much.  You need to get the skis up on their edges to slow down.

Touch your knees together when you want to slow down.  The knees don't have to actually touch but that motion will get you up on the edges.  Try it on a gentle hill and notice how much control you have.

Turn by putting all your weight on the "outside" ski - if you want to go right weight your left ski.  That's called a stem Christie, it's easy to do, works well, and it'll slow you down a little.

Foist suggested taking a lesson if possible.  I took one at Sun Mountain, it was very helpful.  Skiing isn't that complicated but there's a lot to learn all at once and taking a lesson meant doing one skill at a time, and having immediate help when something doesn't make sense.  I left one lesson ready to go have fun.
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kiliki
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PostThu Jan 28, 2021 11:07 am 
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You guys are awesome. There is so much great info here. I did get to practice the snowplow at Sun Mountain when out of the tracks--at first I thought well, I'm a beginner so I need to stay in the tracks, but that ended up not being a good strategy going downhill. While at Sun Valley last year, going down the little golf course bumps, my instructor focused on getting me in a tuck with my hands out in front, and that is fine for the shorter hills where you flatten out, but it was clear that was not a sustainable pose for me on those long, sweeping (even if not steep) downgrades at Sun Mt. I found some videos about picking up one ski out of the track to slow down though I suspect that is easier said than done.

THANK YOU. I have a lot to practice and I just need to get out there and practice.
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treeswarper
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PostThu Jan 28, 2021 2:49 pm 
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I will keep one ski in the track and use the other ski outside to slow down.  Guess it would be a half snowplow.  Or, you can usually step out of the tracks, while still moving and into the skating area to do a full snowplow.

I call my edgeless skis Death Skis.

I call my old fart cross country skis, well, old fart skis  They are supposedly back country skis and have edges, are wider than the death skis and ……a ….lot....slower.

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Cyclopath
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PostThu Jan 28, 2021 6:49 pm 
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kiliki wrote:
I did get to practice the snowplow at Sun Mountain when out of the tracks--at first I thought well, I'm a beginner so I need to stay in the tracks, but that ended up not being a good strategy going downhill.

Definitely get out of the tracks every time you're going down hill.  Until you get pretty comfortable on XC skis.  You have so much more leeway in the skate lane (middle of the trail), if it's a sharp turn it's harder to do and stay in the tracks, but you can slow down more and you can make a wider turn outside of the tracks.  Seriously, every time.   smile.gif
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rossb
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PostFri Jan 29, 2021 8:27 am 
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I think it is common for those with a downhill background to assume they have more control than they do. They start off trying to ski the same way, and fall on their butt. For experienced skiers, the snowplow is not intuitive -- they haven't done that in years and years. They just curse their equipment, and wonder why it won't do what "normal" skis do.

But once you commit to the snowplow, it comes back very quickly. You start remembering the basics, and how to shift your weight from one ski to another. After a while, you learn that each ski is so much lighter, making it easier to put all the weight on one ski.

Likewise, basic skate skiing comes very quickly for an experienced downhill skier. That doesn't mean you skate fast or smooth, but the basics aren't too hard.

Getting a good kick and glide isn't obvious, but it isn't the end of the world if you shuffle along. As a book I once had taught me: more stride for more glide. It had a picture of a gorilla, which I think is a good image.
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kiliki
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PostFri Jan 29, 2021 9:04 am 
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Cyclopath wrote:
kiliki wrote:
I did get to practice the snowplow at Sun Mountain when out of the tracks--at first I thought well, I'm a beginner so I need to stay in the tracks, but that ended up not being a good strategy going downhill.

Definitely get out of the tracks every time you're going down hill.  Until you get pretty comfortable on XC skis.  You have so much more leeway in the skate lane (middle of the trail), if it's a sharp turn it's harder to do and stay in the tracks, but you can slow down more and you can make a wider turn outside of the tracks.  Seriously, every time.   smile.gif

Ohhh...okay that is good info and not what I expected. As I mentioned earlier in my lesson at Sun Valley the instructor had me practice downhills in the tracks, but again, those downhills were small so it worked. When I was snowplowing down the hill at Sun Mt I felt like I shouldn't be doing that--I was afraid I was messing up the skate lane, and I was equating it with snowplowing down a hill when downhill skiing (more of an emergency maneuver when as a beginner I didn't know how else to cope). Which I guess is kinda the case here too but it sounds like that is what I should be doing right now.
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