Cross-country skiing is a form of skiing where disciplined technique is developed to glide or skate. To many, it seems picturesque and romantic in a holiday-activity way. But, grab a beer with give-and-take conversation over the reality of what cross-country skiing is: blisters the size of coasters, sprained ankle after sprained ankle, knees that are a permanent shade of purple from bruises, and stamina to trek for 10 miles a day in freezing temperatures. This is a marriage of commitment plus aptitude, and Colin VanderCreek is an example of that.
He’s impulsive about nothing in his life except for trips. Last year, he found a cheap flight to Sweden, and looked for a reason to go. An eight-day cross-country ski trip in below 30-degree temperature is now his reason.
“I’ve been before, but nothing like this. What I’m scared of is failing the other group members in not keeping pace,” Colin said.
He purchased used, back-country skis, with stiff leather boots, plus a variety of wax for the different types of snow conditions, and decided to put his whole heart into his March 2017 trip.
“I guess this trip is a way for me to understand more of myself in an unfamiliar environment. It’s not really going to be a vacation, and I’m ok with that.”
Colin waited for snow to practice, and waited. When the long-lived winter storm Caly diverted from West Virginia, Colin rented a car and drove seven hours north to Pennsylvania. He spent the weekend skiing at a local resort under suboptimal conditions. It was on the last day, when ice covered the ski routes, that he understood this was no longer preparation for his trip, but a hobby that he chose to show up for even when the going gets rough. And he will show up for again after Sweden.