Today, the Cornwall Outdoor Club is in the Natural Park of les Forestiers-de-Saint-Lazare, 75 km east of Cornwall. This park is very family-oriented and offers winters activities such as skating, tobogganing, snowshoeing, skate-skiing, and cross-country skiing. We have chosen the latter.
One of our members I will call “The Friendly Giant” is the most experienced skier among us, having a few ski half-marathons under his belt. He is quick to offer us a few tips to improve our technique as we shuffle along our 9 km loop. I learn to pay more attention to the placement of my poles so as not to waste energy.
When I think about it, skiing really is like dancing. You swing your arms, kick, stride, and glide, and then repeat. You rotate your hips and get into the rhythm. Of course, like any dancers, some of us are more graceful than others. The skate-skiers, whizzing by us for instance sure look agile and well synchronized. I enjoy the gentle gradual slopes where I can slightly bend my knees and coast down with relatively no effort. But it can’t all be easy! Before long we arrive to a steep hill, its surface covered in herringbone patterns left by those before us. We replicate the steps by digging the inside edges of our skis in the snow to get a better grip. This keeps us from sliding backwards. This is not the place or the time to moonwalk. Once we reach the top we get a glimpse of the trail winding down the ravine. There is a bend around which lies uncertainty. The Friendly Giant goes down first as we observe the fluidity of his movements; then one by one we follow crouching into “v” formation to snow plow down at our own speed. Silva Lining (not her real name) describes her own descent as “Doing The Turtle.” I suppose this could be the next dance craze. In any event, everyone has his own comfort level. The goal is to challenge ourselves and have a good time. My main concern right now is to maintain my balance and remain upright. We make it down without crumpling into a heap, a tried and true yet inelegant technique for reducing speed, and join the others patiently waiting below.
Several other ascents and descents follow and there are a few falls along the way but no memorable wipe-outs. All in all, we did quite well. We may not be the equivalent of Patrick Swayze on skis, and might need a few more rehearsals, but at least we completed our dance routine. I, for one, can feel my accomplishment in every aching muscle in my body, but give me a couple of days and I will be ready for the next ski-dance recital. For more information about the Cornwall Outdoor Club de Plein Air at www.cornwalloutdoorclub.ca or like us on Facebook.