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The Joy of Uncut Snow


Two sets of ski tracks on open snow with a blue sky

Photo by Susan Mark

I had no earthly reason not to follow in my husband's tracks. None. 

We celebrated the first day of 2021 by cross-country skiing. We had blue skies with barely a cloud. Cold enough temperatures that the snow didn't stick, but not cold enough to be unpleasant.* Best yet, it was one of that rarest of Wyoming days: no wind. 

The trailhead was, as usual, packed. We parked at the rest stop instead, where I slipped through one split-rail fence, hiked across a wind-scoured field, and stepped over a break in another one. We skied the ridge between the fence and Headquarters Trail, a wide expanse of uncut snow. In spots, I'd float on a hard-blown crust, then suddenly feel my foot plunge into powder.

My husband was, of course, ahead of me. He's the athlete while I'm a bit soft around the edges. I'm always the one trailing behind when we're out.

Breaking trail on cross-country skis is harder than following a set trail, or even following another skier. I could have followed behind him and gotten more glide where he'd laid down tracks. I would have known where I would sink and where I would float. 

But I didn't. Fresh snow is simply too tempting. I zigzagged for no good reason and ducked around trees. Our tracks must have looked like a little kid ran back and forth. Truth be told, I felt like a kid doing it.

I am told that I "knew my own mind" from my youngest days. As I grew older, I picked my own path -- not the one of least resistance, by a long shot. I've fallen into deep snow more than once in life, but I've always gotten back up.

Breaking trail is harder, but oh so worth it.

*Although truly, bad weather is usually a function of bad clothing.


  1. Yes, the joy of cross-country skiing. I loved it when I did it. After my son discovered the joy of riding a lift up and having gravity pull one much faster downhill, I couldn't get him to ski with me, so had to do it solo. The joy of the peacefulness of a windless day--not that often in Wyoming, but more frequent in Colorado. Nice blog. Soothing and full of memories for me.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Art! So sorry it took me so long to approve the comment -- I'm still re-learning the blog management thing. Glad you find cross-country skiing as peaceful as I do.


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