I went home for two days to get some cross-country skiing in. I love skiing – it’s peaceful, steady, exhausting, fast…everything good. The steady action is almost meditative. I’ve been skiing since I was tiny – my parents have photos of me in a little pink and purple snowsuit, toddling along on my miniature skis. But before I could even walk, my parents were pulling me in a pulk – sled you attach to your waist and pull behind you. They were traditionally used to transport supplies and people during ski journeys in the Nordic countries. I have vague memories of getting strapped into the pulk, feeling the plastic of the sled flex under my back as we moved, hearing the roar of the sliding snow, and watching snowflakes fall from the sky and onto my face.
I never pulled a pulk until this winter, when my friend Liz purchased one for her baby Grant. Liz is learning how to skate ski, so while she gets her feet under her I get to pull the baby. It’s a different motion than skiing without the pulk – you have to be more smooth, move your hips differently so that you aren’t constantly jerking the sled. Grant is funny – he likes to sing along with the sliding sound for a bit, and then he falls asleep. The pulk doesn’t cause much of a problem on the flats or downhills, but going up a steep hill can be a battle! Sometimes I have to let Dad pull for me, when I am too tired.
I love to ski at Snowkraft Nordic in Sturgeon Bay. A local man runs it. He spends hours and hours making sure that the trail surface is perfectly smooth, the grass just the right softness, the trees trimmed to perfection so that you can ski there when nowhere else has snow. He goes and grooms at 2am, when the snow is coldest, to keep the trails as perfect as possible. The result is some of the best ski trails in the state. And because of the careful maintenance, they can be skiied on when nowhere else has snow. He also uses up every inch of his land to make fun, twisty trails that make good use of the natural terrain. The Orchard trails are built along a ridge, so as you travel east to west you climb a surprisingly steep grade! Then you turn around and whoosh back down the hill, speeding around S-bends and banked turns. The trails in the pines are flatter, but also beautiful, fast, and impeccably groomed. I can’t wait to get back!