This has been a tough winter for those of us who enjoy cross-country skiing. The usual venues here in town have not consistently had enough snow to groom. However, the Presidents Day weekend storm delivered snow that was deep enough and cold enough to enable skiing on the shared trail system across the river from the paved walkway.
That Monday morning my husband and I spent several hours and a good deal of effort laying some fairly decent ski tracks on the various trails, hoping to enjoy skiing in them for as long as the snow lasted.
We put the tracks to one side of the trails, leaving the other side free for walking tracks (except for two short distances where thick brush made it impossible). Unfortunately for us, during subsequent days many walkers and a snowshoer decided to walk in our ski tracks, even when it was not necessary, essentially ruining them for us and other skiers.
The parallel tracks of classic cross-country skiing basically act like train tracks, directing all the skier’s motion forward and enabling a smooth kick and glide that allows for exhilarating speeds and the sensation of almost flying along the ground.
When someone walks (or snowshoes) in the tracks, they break down the parallel walls and rough up the smooth surface of the tracks, making the skier’s glide difficult, if not impossible. Worse still, as the snow freezes and thaws, the “potholes” left by walkers’ boots deepen, making it more and more likely that a skier will “catch a tip” in one of them and be seriously injured.
I understand the temptation to walk the easiest route possible — when skiing is not possible, I myself walk and snowshoe. But please, when using shared use trails, respect the efforts and safety of skiers. Make your own tracks rather than destroying theirs.