2017/18 Cross Country Skiing Year in Review
John Byers, March 10, 2018
Winter 2017/2018 was an excellent year for cross country skiing. This is my review.
Before this winter, I had been renting skis each time I went. Solitude's nordic center was the most convenient place to rent skis, so in previous winters, I would usually go there. This year, my parents got me my own pair of skis as a Christmas present. It has been so nice being able to grab my skis and go, without having to worry about renting. I also started going to other trails around Utah this year too.
We got some Rossignol Evo XC 49 skis at Barrie's Ski and Sports black friday sale this winter. As far as I can tell, they are entry level skis for beginners, but they have been perfect. The boots they came with have been very comfortable, and don't have typical laces, instead it is a cinching mechanism that makes tightening them very easy.
Around Christmas, I skiied at Mink Creek, at the base of Scout Mountain outside Pocatello, with my mom. It was awesome. The trails were great, and the area is hilly, but not very difficult. There were a few other skiers around (mostly skate skiers lapping us repeatedly), so we pretty much had the trails to ourselves. The next day, we tried out our skis at the Juniper Hills golf course in Pocatello. That was fun too, and a hawk was flying overhead, screeching at us, and the other birds around the golf course. The drawback of Juniper Hills, is that it is almost entirely flat. It was just ok.
Next, we had some great snow around Christmastime in Park City, so my wife and I skiied at White Pine Touring's golf course in Park City. The trails we did were mostly flat, and very easy. I want to go back and ski all the way to the white barn someday, but our short loop around the golf course was fun. It was blizzarding all around us, which made for a memorable day.
Having my own skis, I decided to check out Mountain Dell golf course. I heard about it online from the Utah Nordic Alliance website, which is an excellent resource for cross country ski trails around Utah. The golf course was good, though there wasn't much snow. It was nicely groomed, and easy to get to from Salt Lake. It was cheap too, I think it was less than $10. It was mostly skate skiers, but I still had a good time on my new skis.
I decided to check out Solitude again this winter. During the winter, I end up spending a lot of time at work, which involves a lot of sitting. So on the weekends, I like to get some exercise, and Solitude is perfect for that. See my review here. It is very hilly, and fun for someone who wants a workout. It helps that they have a shuttle running too, so you can get an extra downhill run in if you like. Having my own skis made Solitude WAY better, in that I could park at the bottom, ski up, and end on a downhill. Before having my own skis, I had to rent at the top (the nordic center is at the top of the hill). Then drive back to the bottom, put my skis on, ski, and then drive back to the top to drop off my skis. It is so much better without renting. This year was a terrible snow year for the most part, and even though Solitude was fun, there were a lot of exposed branches, making the skiing a little scary.
A guy at Mountain Dell recommended Wasatch Touring to get skis waxed at, so I took mine there halfway through the winter. They took a few days to wax them, but I just don't really like the store. The store itself seems messy, and overall not very organized. The employees were helpful and answered my questions, but I felt like an intruder, and that the employees were more interested in talking with each other. Hopefully I can find a different store next year.
There was another big blizzard this winter, so I went to Jeremy Ranch golf course to try it out. It turned out to be a fun place, and you can see my review here.
Finally, I decided to try Millcreek Canyon, as the TUNA website said it had some big elevation gain. I thought it might be fun, since I like climbing the hill at Solitude. Millcreek turned out to be awesome! It wasn't as steep as I thought it would be, it is a gradual climb for the first few miles. The trail had a great vibe through the woods. I ended up skiing it four times this year. The first three times I only made it to the 3-mile mark, but my last attempt I made it all the way to the top. The last attempt was my favorite ski day of the year. Normally, I wake up late, and get to the trail around 10 or 11, and by then, it is usually crowded with hikers, and people walking their dogs. It is fun being around the dogs, but it is also kind of a hassle, and there are just too many people for the first mile of trail. But for my last attempt, I made it to the trail by 8:00. There was almost nobody else there, just a few other skiers. It snowed big the previous night, so the snow was great, and everything was really quiet. It turned otu to be a great ski all the way to the top. It was tiring, but fun.
Overall it has been a great ski year, despite Utah's horrible lack of snow. It is so nice going cross country skiing because I don't have to deal with the crowds and traffic of the big resorts, and it is way cheaper. I think I've spent less than $100 total on everything this year. If I went 10 times to the resorts, that would easily be $1000. Plus, I get tired after just an hour or two, so I can wake up late, ski a little, and then come back and have the whole day ahead of me. It has been fun exploring the new trails. Definitely a successful year.