Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cross-Country Skiing in Spearfish

Cross-country skiing has been described as “designed for absolute beginners through die-hard athletes.” With a backdrop of beautiful aspen, ponderosa pine, paper birch or breathtaking canyon views, the Spearfish area is a great place to begin your cross-country skiing experience or continue a sport that you love. We’ll let our local expert, Everett Follette, a 30-year-veteran skier and owner of Ski Cross Country, tell you all about it.

Where are the best places to cross-country ski in Spearfish?
Our preference is the Big Hill Trails (a connecting series of trails totaling 16.5 miles) because they are at least partly groomed all the time. They are also so close – only 8 miles out of town.
How would you describe the cross-country skiing experience?
You can pretty much do it at whatever level you want. You can think of it as anything from walking to running. It can be as laid back as you want or as demanding as you want.
What makes cross-country skiing in this area so special?
The scenery is hard to beat. And the terrain is not so difficult that you can’t do it. The kind of snow we get here is pretty consistent, so it makes for a more pleasant experience. Just being in the hills makes it kind of special. You don’t find any better snow or conditions up there.
Is cross-country skiing a family activity?
It definitely is. We had four kids who started skiing in junior high and our grand kids were skiing just about everywhere by the age of five. We’ve found it’s a really great family activity.
How much snow do you need to ski?
That depends a lot on where you’re going to do it. You only need 2-3 inches if you don’t have rocks underneath.
What do you need to know before you try cross-country skiing?
How you dress is important. Don’t go out in anything cotton because it’s a good conductor of heat. After you fall in the snow you can’t wipe it off, so your chances for hypothermia increase. Don’t wear jeans. Dress in layers so you don’t overheat.
How long have you been skiing?
Well, I started when I was in my 40s and I’m 76 now, so I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years. You can do this from three years old and on, as long as you stay in fairly good physical condition.

Cross-country skiing enthusiasts can rent skis at Ski Cross Country, 701 North 3rd Street in Spearfish from November through March.