This is a guest post written by Enock Glidden, MTF Accessibility Ambassador, Public Speaker, Adaptive Athlete, and Adventurer. To learn more about Enock, please visit his website.
It has been a rough winter for those of us in Maine that enjoy getting out in the snow. We made it all the way into January without any significant amounts of snow. We finally got 3 storms in a row leaving us with a winter wonderland to enjoy
One of the ways I combat the winter blues is by getting outside and skiing. I love to both downhill and cross country ski. There is something about the still quiet winter wilderness that makes everything peaceful and calm. Then there is the adrenaline of downhill. If you have been following my blogs you know adrenaline and risk are kinda my things.
Did you know that Maine Trail Finder is not just about hiking? There are many trail-related activities that you can search using the Find Trails filter. One of those activities is cross country skiing.
Cross country skiing gives me that same sense of freedom and exploration that I gain from hiking in the non-winter months. I wanted to evaluate some of the trails I had done during the hiking season from a new perspective.
I borrowed a cross country sit-ski from Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation this winter. It consists of a seat mounted on two normal cross-country skis. I use poles to push myself along the trails. It is an extremely good workout.
I chose Valentine Farm for my first outing of the season since it is very close to home and I know the terrain really well. It is mostly flat with a few small hills. I was quite sure I would be able to make it around half the trail.
When we arrived at the Farm, I was pleased to see the parking lot still had some snow coverage. That made it much easier to get from my van to the trail. If the parking lot wasn’t covered in snow, I would have to transport myself across the parking lot with my wheelchair while carrying the sit-ski. Then I would need to get into the sit-ski and leave my wheelchair next to the trail. Since Sandy was with me it wouldn’t have mattered because she could have put my wheelchair back in the van. It is good to have a plan for solo adventures too, just in case.
I was able to access the trail quite easily since we had not gotten a ton of snow. There wasn't a huge bank to climb, just a few inches of snow to push up and over. I haven't cross country skied in quite a few years and this was the perfect place to try it out again.
I thought the trail would be groomed when I got there. Unfortunately, I didn't give them enough time after the storm the day before. People had already been there to ski and snowshoe. They had worn down a pretty good path for me to ski.
The ski that I am using is the same width as a groomed track. That makes it quite narrow, which means it can be tippy. In fact, I fell over twice. It is very easy to get back into the ski because it is so low to the ground. Other than being covered in snow there was no one injured in the making of this blog.
The views along the trail are made even more magical after a snowstorm. The clean white snow frames everything and makes it feel like you are in a totally different place.
I am not going to do a rating for cross country ski trails because snow conditions can vary so much. It would be hard to say what the trail difficulty would be from one day to the next.
I have a couple of tips that might be obvious to some for using a sit-ski on trails. Firstly, find trails that are as flat as possible. It can be quite hard to push the sit-ski uphill using just poles. Also going downhill can get bit sketchy as it gets faster. The sit-ski doesn't turn very quickly or easily. I find that frozen ponds are amazing places to adaptive cross country ski. As long as the snow is fresh or at the very least not totally disturbed, it is almost guaranteed to be very flat and easy. There is also usually a boat launch for access.
It looks like we are going to get another good dose of snow tomorrow. I am hoping to get out again this weekend. Feel free to leave comments letting me know places I should check out and maybe we can ski or hike together!
If you have a different type of mobility issue or a different disability and you visit this trail or others, please comment on this post and give us your feedback. The more knowledge we gather and share, the more people we can get outside using the trails of Maine!
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