By Walter Nicklin, Special to The Washington Post
Cross country skier Derek Dresler, of Silverthorne, takes advantage of the fresh snow and cold weather in late October while skiing on Loveland Pass with his dog Georgia. (Eric Lutzens, The Denver Post)Against the majestic backdrop of the Mont Blanc massif, I took a brief break in my workout, leaned on my ski poles and inhaled the solitary silence. Just a few miles away, the rest of my family was having fun on snowboards and downhill skis among the crowds, lifts and cable cars. It was Christmas vacation 10 years ago, and we were near Chamonix, France — the site, in 1924, of the first Winter Olympics. There were two cross country skiing events.
If I ever want to repeat my French Alps cross country experience, I’m told, I shouldn’t book in December again; there’s no guarantee there would be much snow. However, waiting too late in the season, as I learned on a subsequent trip to the Italian Dolomites in March, can make the Alps an iffy proposition, too. It was my son’s spring vacation, and he still got to snowboard; but downslope from the snow-capped peaks, the cross country trails were mostly slush.
To be a cross country skier in this age of ever warmer, drier winters is to feel like an endangered species. To survive, we must adapt. So here are some lessons focused on flexibility that I’ve drawn from my recent cross country experiences.
1. Be alert to alternate locations
Surely, Yosemite National Park would always be a winter wonderland — that was my expectation. But when I finally arranged a trip there, in late January 2016, hiking boots — not skis — were the best way to get around. So I drove on to Lake Tahoe. I arrived in a blizzard (a good sign), but by the next morning, snowy promise had turned into icy rain.
Only in Utah’s Soldier Hollow, an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City, did I find serious snow. Created for the 2002 Winter Olympics, the site not only welcomes solitary skiers but also offers tubing runs and training facilities for biathlon athletes.
2. Find places that make snow
The best thing about Soldier Hollow is that from mid-December through mid-March, there’s always snow — at least on the eight kilometers of groomed trails with snow-making equipment. Typically, snow-making begins around Thanksgiving, to ensure a good base, then is used as …
Source:: The Denver Post – Lifestyle