In March 2021, we went cross-country skiing. But this wasn’t your typical kick-and-glide XC outing in spandex on an impeccably groomed trail. This was backcountry West Virginia telemark skiing at its finest. Over a span of eight hours, we climbed up through tangled forests of beech, birch, and spruce trees, repeatedly stopping to scrape wet snow that stuck to our ski bases. We drank beers in t-shirts in a sunny meadow, making awkward step turns to connect the remaining patches of snow while trying not to fall over in the blueberry shrubs.
We ascended and skied (if you want to call it that) down icy north-facing slopes that hadn’t seen the sun in months, biffing it and laughing as we bruised our hips (and egos) and slid on our backs like flipped turtles. I think I made one decent turn between all the wrecks. One member of our party broke one of his skis, lashing it to his backpack and skiing the entire way back on one foot, hopping from edge to edge with a surprising deftness, keeping up—and passing—the less skilled skiers (me included).