I grew up playing hockey with my neighbor. Through our youth, we would play pond hockey every day there was good, even at times questionable, ice. I was quick and good with a stick and puck. I eventually went on to play club for my university. But, once I graduated undergrad, I didn’t play much hockey anymore. I am small and got tired of being hit around and getting injuries. I, instead, moved to Colorado where I picked up downhill skiing. It was a bit of a learning curve but, I eventually picked it up. Then, I moved to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where cross-country skiing is the thing to do. There is plenty of hockey and downhill skiing but, I have taken to XC skiing mostly. Great cardio and easier on the knees. It’s one of my main cardio workouts during the snow weeks.
During the clear-street days, I ride my bike or run. I don’t typically use the car unless I need to carry mounds of stuff and the kids (family) around. But, when those streets get covered, I switch to the skis — and, I glide.
After work at least once a week I go to my favorite spot to ski, which these days is Blueberry Ridge Pathway. It is one of the Upper Peninsula’s most popular XC ski trails. Named for the area’s jack pine forest blueberry patches, it’s home to 13.67 miles of hiking and groomed XC skiing trails, including 1.7 miles of lighted trails for night skiing. Plus, you can also bust out the backcountry skis and have a ball as well. There is a warming hut managed by the Superiorland Ski Club. The trail is groomed annually from December 1 through March 31, weather permitting of course. Grooming updates are posted to both the Blueberry Ridge Ski Pathway Facebook group and on Twitter @MiStateParks. I don’t use Facebook much, so I have to just go check it out and watch the weather.
Over the past handful of years, I have found myself going through different setups for XC skiing. My family, last Christmas, got me a great set up and that is what I am still using today. Even as I write this, I am planning to go for a ski in the early evening. Most of the time this would require a headlamp but, as I mentioned above, this trail is lit during particular months of the year so, all I need to do is get there.
A fun intermediate ski.
I use Rossignol Zymax SK180. With my comfy boots and poles, I can make quick work of the mileage. But that’s not why I go out. I go out for the pure fun of it. It takes me back to the days that I loved as a kid skating around the pond. The swift move around the forest; the sounds of nature; and meeting new people along the way. Blueberry Patch gets kind of busy in the winter months but, busy it not actually busy. I see maybe a few people in the 2-3 hours that I am out. Mostly around the warming hut area. That’s where I sit after my outing and sip my hot chocolate.
Cheers to a fulfilling ski season ahead!
Some of my tunes: