Western Montana is a skier’s paradise, with mountains reaching up into the clouds, and a hopefully, ever-constant supply of snow in the winter months. And, often, when we think of skiing, we think of the downhill variety, being taken up a lift to the top of a mountain, where we then slide back down on skis or a snowboard at adventurous speeds. And, while this is an enjoyable way to spend a day, Nordic skiing, skiing on both groomed trails both in the valley’s and mountains can be a wonderfully rewarding and enjoyable experience.
If you have snow, you can ski anywhere on Nordic (Cross Country) skis. You don’t need a hill, you don’t need anyone else’s assistance, you can just strap on a pair of skis and go. For those of you who have never experienced it, Nordic skiing is one incredible way to see the landscape of Montana, enjoyably, in the winter months. Like hiking, Nordic Skiing is a terrific way to both enjoy the day, and also to get great exercise. Also like hiking, it’s as difficult of a cardiovascular workout as you want to make it. But that’s not to say it’s difficult, and, in fact, you can Nordic Ski at casual walking speeds, your skis floating over the snow beneath you, while you take in the serenity of a winter landscape.
Learn to Ski
Anyone, with a little practice, can maneuver Nordic Skis down a groomed or a backcountry trail alike, fairly easily. The balance needed to move the skis forward is very similar to walking, but you also have the addition of poles. The only caveat to skis attached to the boots on your feet being that you’ll have to learn to kick back the skis to get momentum to then push forward the skis to glide (propelled walking). Think of it as dancing meats hiking. But, even the most inefficient skier, can adequately glide down a trail on the skis for enjoyment.
If you have never used Nordic skis, or, if you are an avid Nordic Skier, looking for the one of the most serene backdrops in all of Montana, try out the trails in the Bitterroot Valley.