Holy crap. I learned new word today, from a spam message, and it's not even obscene. hebdomad. That's just a splendid word. I shall be awaiting a suitably fake-pompous opportunity to use it.
I went cross-country skiing yesterday. On such a beautiful day, the Weston Ski Track turns out to be packed almost like a downhill venue -- parking lot overflowed, clubhouse lined up out the door, and I had to wait 20 or 30 minutes to get through the rental line. The pair of skis I got handed came directly from the return desk; someone brought them in, the tech carried them across the room and handed them directly to me, with snow still on them.
I didn't keep very close track, but I think I skiied for an hour or so, maybe longer, and according to the map did about 5 km. Enough to feel like I did something, but not wipe me out. My form isn't particularly good, I think, but I kept up. I passed the kids, and was passed by the Finns. That seems fair. I've only actually been cross-country skiing half a dozen times or so -- the first time was in Boulder in a similar park. I got second-hand gear from a ski swap sale and K. D. was kind enough to take me out and show me how to put one foot in front of the other. I now forget almost everything she actually told me, but as far as I can tell pretty much it's just an issue of keeping balanced and keeping in rhythm. Waxless skis have angled cuts in the bottom so they grip the snow in one direction and glide in the other, ratchet fashion, and they're bowed so the gripping part lifts up off the snow if you don't have your weight on it, anyway.
My father says that when he was a kid in Prince Rupert they used to strap sealskin (I think) to the bottoms of their skis, and the angled hairs produced the same effect. They'd climb the mountain with the skins on, then remove them to ski down.
Weston Ski Track is on a golf course near the junction of I-95 and the Mass Pike. It's not the most scenic place I've ever skied, but pretty enough -- it's up against a half-frozen loop of the Charles River. Might have been very nice if there had been a bit more solitude. It's close by, they do trail grooming, night skiing, and snow-making. A day pass is $12, plus $12 if you need to rent gear.
I've done some googling for other local ski venues. Next I think I have to try Great Brook Ski Touring Center in Carlisle (near Concord) on land owned by the Mass Dept of Conservation and Recreation. It looks like a similar operation -- grooming, night skiing, similar rates, except it's on an old farm instead of a golf course. The other place I've seen recommended is Appleton Farms Grass Rides, Trustees of Reservations land up near Ipswich. It sounds lovely with trails through the woods, but the snow is unmaintained and it's pretty close to the coast, so it seems dicier to count on them having snow any given weekend. Right now I'm sure they're fine, but the weather service says we have melting weather coming up this week.
Other recommendations sought. Also, companions.