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Cross Country Without Skis

Published online: Mar 11, 2014 White Out & Wide Open—The Blog Steve Janes
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White Out & Wide Open—The Blog

            In my own little effort to foster world peace and to close the gap between environmental beliefs, I took a cross country skier on a snowmobile ride.

            Some of you may think this could be considered a magnanimous gesture on my part to create commonality between two groups of people with varying interests who compete for the same terrain. Some may think it was a hollow attempt to bridge the snowmobiling community with the cross country skiing community. And still others may consider this act as a waste of time and fuel.

            On my part, however, this particular cross country skier is a good friend and taking him snowmobiling was just a mask for an excuse to go snowmobiling. And we’re getting to the time of year when one needs to look for any excuse possible to go riding.

            We picked a good day to ride, considering the recent weather trends. It was partly sunny, middle of the week and mild temperatures. This made for good visibility, no crowds and a comfortable experience out on the snow. Being late in the season for the low elevation trailhead, there were a few patches of bare spots we had to contend with during the first 10 miles of trails. But once we got to the higher elevations, the snow depths were more than sufficient and the riding was outstanding.

            Being a cross country skier, my friend was very familiar to snow conditions. Being a cowboy (yes, there are cowboys who actually cross country ski), he wasn’t intimidated by the horsepower of the snowmobile. (He had ridden snowmobiles in the past … just not in recent years.) But just because he wasn’t your prototypical cross country skier doesn’t mean he still wasn’t entertaining to watch on a snowmobile.

            Even being a cowboy, he still found himself on the wrong side of the sled every now and then. And unlike riding a horse, he didn’t have an extra set of brains helping him make quick decisions. But whether he was riding the sled, or in some cases the sled was riding him, he loved every minute of his experience.

            I apologized to him before we started, saying this experience would likely cost him about $10,000 and several friends. Because once he got on the sled, it would be difficult for him to get back on the skis. And if he ended up buying a sled, none of his cross country sliding buddies would claim him. But that was a risk he was willing to take.

            We rode over 120 miles, from Bone to Alpine and back … which is a good day for even a seasoned rider. And he couldn’t wipe the smile off his face for the entire duration.

            Now, I may not have solved the world peace issue. And I’m sure there are likely some environmental issues in which we still have differences. But I do know he will be talking about that ride for quite some time. And every time he sees a snowmobile, he will have fond memories of a terrific ride.

            No word yet as to whether he’s snow checked anything.

~SJ