The joys of slacking in Colorado.

Max licks his lips and ups the chapping ante.

Off to ski school we went, all three little people outfitted and overheated in the backseat of the spaceship that rode like a hockey puck over a vaseline-smothered slip-and-slide.

The King and I arrived at our destination- the Keystone Nordic Center, where we signed up for one hour of lessons and a day of rentals and skiing. Given the King’s reluctance, it made sense that he should be the one who excelled in our class of fifteen other middle-aged first-timers.

The Prophet at the Nordic Center, where we rented snowshoes and nordic skiis.

The King wanted to understand why a girl like me, raised and bred to believe that downhill skiis were the only way to travel, found this itch to go nordic. I explained that all skiing started with nordic skiing, and I craved the flexibility of it. Imagine not having to wait in chair lift lines. Imagine a journey that takes you through uncharted, ungroomed areas, unlimited by the need for an incline. Imagine being able to remove your skiis, strap them to your back, hike a little ways, and then start again. Imagine not having to rent clunky, cumbersome ski boots. Imagine carting around lighter, less demanding gear. Imagine using skiis to EXPLORE an area rather than race down a slope for a few minutes.

“Okay, okay, enough,” he said. “I get it. We’re giving it a try.”

A view from the Easy Does It trail.

After our hour-long lesson- in which we met some awesome, interesting folks from all over the world- we took a look at the Keystone Nordic Center Trail Map and chose what appeared to be the most scenic route, one which took us over creeks and through small woodlands. It was hard to keep up with the King.

The view of Mount Guyot and Bald Mountain from the Nordic Center.

It was more taxing and difficult than I’d anticipated. And the pleasure was of a different sort. In downhill skiing, it’s all about the brief exhiliration of feeling your skiis manuveur the mountain terrain at various speeds generated by a natural (often steep) inclince. The rush is hard to describe.

In nordic skiing, there is no fast rush- it’s a long, drawn-out pleasure, the kind you get from those moments when you find a rhythm while hiking. Nordic allows you to enter a state of flow, if you are willing to let go. The reward is not the immediate gratification of downhill skiing, but a sustained state of movement.

We skiied the trails with our eyes on the clock, knowing that the little people would not understand any excuses from parents late to retrieve them from ski school. The King was lovely to watch, and I hid my envy at his ability, hoping, instead, that it would encourage him to try skiing nordic with me again. Because, of course, I’m not done until it’s been mastered.

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