New Hampshire Skiing and Snowshoeing Trip
March 8-10, 2019
The first time I went cross-country skiing was in Craftsbury, Vermont this past January with NERSFL. I strongly dislike being cold, and I have some lower back and hip problems from falling while ice skating, so I was very nervous about skiing. But my friend convinced me to go, and I decided I would mainly snowshoe. After one day on snowshoes though, I decided that everyone's stories about skiing sounded much more fun and adventurous. So by Sunday afternoon, I had put on cross-country skis! And boy, did I learn a lot about skiing and about myself. Most surprisingly, it took me a very long time to take my first fall.
I had an amazing ski guide who was great at describing exactly how my body should feel and proper technique. Luckily I have competed in triathlons and that experience came in handy for cross-country skiing. I did not fall until I tried to get cute and go faster down a hill - and then I learned how to get up, which is a very important part of skiing. The very important lesson I learned from that particular day was that I had underestimated my abilities.
It was a great feeling to freely ski within the tracks. Cross-country skiing is a sport that can be done quite independently, especially in the beginner trails. Monday morning another volunteer guide tried to teach me how to snowplow, a key technique for maintaining balance and speed while going downhill and essential to advance to more difficult trails. This I was not so great at. After really not getting far, my guide and I decided we should just ski a couple loops and call it a day. I was so excited about my first-time achievements in Craftsbury that I decided I needed to go to the March trip in New Hampshire.
During the Wayside NH two-day trip, I began to master snowplowing. My guide took me to a practice hill and we went up and down that hill over and over and over. I decided to postpone lunch until I successfully snowplowed down that hill. Those who know me know that food is my ultimate motivator. Let's just say I got very good at herring-boning (the reverse stance of snowplowing for the opposite purpose of climbing a hill) up the hill and at getting up after a fall. My guide and I finally figured out why I kept falling: ironically, this happened when the hill leveled out at the bottom. Go figure, it was not the hill that was the problem but the sudden change to a flat trail. Of course we realized it was a body shifting issue, and - boom! - right at noon I successfully snowplowed twice in a row!!! This gave me the awesome feeling that not only could I have lunch, but when you work hard it will eventually pay off. And being at the top of the hill, knowing there is a good chance you will fall, can be intimidating, and facing down that fear feels awesome. So I got to move on to more intermediate trails, where there was still a lot of falling midway down hills but my balance got a lot better as the day went on. Sunday morning,I learned that trying to ski on ice is not fun, but my guide and I found very slight hills where I could practice control, stopping, and my snowplow and really feel the movement of each technique.
These trips taught me things about myself I did not know, and reinforced valuable things I knew about the value of hard work and facing things that may appear intimidating. The volunteers are amazing people, as are the other visually-impaired skiers who were at these events. Both weekends were fun and filled with amazing people. By the way, not all the volunteers are sighted. In fact, the president of the NERSFL, who chiefly organizes these awesome events, is legally blind, as are other members of the all-volunteer board and other contributors throughout the group. From the volunteer guides who picked skiers up from different locations across New England and brought them to the resort, to the volunteers who were always willing to help guide us in buffet lines and around the resort grounds, to the wonderful instruction and guidance on the trails, everything and everyone was loads of fun - even if it was cold and there was a lot of falling! I will definitely be back next season!
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