Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cross-Country Skiing: Lolo, MT

I am eager to jump into the outdoor life that living in Montana offers.  Fortunately, one of the only people I know here is the right person for the job.  Diana hikes, cross-country skis, and does many other outdoor things as the seasons permit.  She has invited both David and I on a nighttime cross-country (XC) ski event scheduled for the end of January.  I am concerned about that being my first time for a number of reasons.

  1. You can XC ski at night?
  2. I don't have the right equipment.  I just bought my first real winter coat a few weeks ago.
  3. I am not in good enough shape.
  4. The last time I went skiing it was downhill style and that was around 1982.
  5. You can XC ski at night?
I learn that you can indeed do this at night when there is a full moon.  I woke up a few nights before the official full moon and suddenly understood why this was possible.  It gets dark here and the light coming from the moon is really bright.  I never experienced anything remotely like that when I lived in Texas.  I guess there was too much ambient light.

Probably due to my excess whining about all of the reasons not to go, Diana decides to see if we want to do a short daytime outing to see if we like it.  I think this is a good idea but some of the same problems remain. 

As for being out of shape, she assures me she will take it easy on me.  On the equipment front, it turns out our husbands won't be joining us so that means I can borrow equipment.

See me smiling? This is the before picture.  I suspect I am the only woman Diana knows who can borrow her husbands SHOES and have them fit.  In fact, they fit perfect. Those are his skis to but those are more of a one size fits all.  At least I assume.  The clothes all belong to me and have been acquired very recently.  After about 15 minutes the coat is in my backpack and I am down to the long-sleeve T-shirt and flannel shirt.

The removal of my jacket is only remarkable if you factor in this in.  This is the temperature gauge at the volunteer fire station by my house.  I took this on the way home so it was warmer by then than when we set out.

Diana and I are the only people on the trail.  I mean that quite literally.  Her truck is the only one in the parking lot.  We don't see any other people and there are still no other cars when we return.

This wouldn't concern me but there is no cell phone service here.  This is where the trail really begins for us.  I have heard numerous stories about bears (who are hibernating in theory), moose and mountain lions.  Also, I am clumsy.  I broke my ankle in the flat parking lot of a sporting goods store.  What if one of us (me) falls and breaks something.  No worries Diana assures me.  We would either carry the other out or leave them and go for help.  Yeah, I'm not worried.  Diana better be the one that has to be carried, I outweigh her by quite a lot.

I have to try really hard for this not to be my view the whole time.  It is really beautiful here and I quickly make a nuisance of myself by forcing Diana to stop while I take pictures.

Fortunately, she likes to take pictures too.

Diana takes the lead and I am happy for her to do that.  She has been here before and has done this before so it makes sense for her to stay in front. Plus, if I fall it will be harder for her to get an action shot on her camera.  And I do fall once.  Much to my surprise I manage to only go to my knee on top of the ski.  I don't fall all the way down.  I almost fall several times but all in all, I am proud of my ability to stay upright on my first time.

The only problem with having Diana lead is that I can't hear her when she talks to me.  In my old age I have a hard time hearing if the person is facing away from me.  Diana suggests we talk and generally make some noise so the animals know we are here and we don't surprise one which is apparently when the real problems occur.

And there are animals here.  We see several sets of fresh tracks from various animals of varying sizes.  I have mixed feelings about seeing an animal today.  Deer, bunnies, chipmunks, all okay.  Diana tells me that moose are really aggressive and though I really want to see one in the wild, I hope it is at a safe distance.

Not that I can recognize a moose track (yet) but I know they are nearby since we passed this sign on the way here.

At one point, this is my view.  Beautiful, yes.  The problem is...WHERE IS DIANA??

I generally prefer to keep her in sight.  She would probably prefer I put the camera away and keep up.

Maybe one day I won't be awed by my surroundings.  But truthfully, I hope not.

Diana kindly doesn't work me too hard.  I had real fears about being unable to walk the day after, especially since I have to get on a plane back to Dallas, but though I was sore (all over my body), I am not incapacitated sore.  And we weren't out there long enough for me to want to check out the inside of this building.  I bet it is really cold in there.

Since a picnic is out of the question - yes, that is a picnic table and benches - we go back to her house after a couple of hours.

I would do this again, in fact, we have plans to go this weekend, this time with the boys.  This means David and I will rent equipment and Diana won't have to put up with me leaving the skis in the back of the truck for her to deal with. 

Ultimately, we didn't go on the full moon outing.  Diana's family was under the weather at that time and it turned out to be cloudy anyway.  We will try again next month.  In the meantime, here are some of my favorite photos from that day.  Some of these have obviously been modified from the original.


Stand Out

No Shortage of Trees

The Twins

Purple Mountain Majesty


Here Comes the Sun

Alone in a Crowd


Winter on Mars


  1. Oh....i loved your retelling of this...
    and i absolutely loved the photos!!!

    1. Thank you for your kind comments. I checked out your blogs and will keep checking in from time to time.