Rau: Good conditions mean more crowded trails | SkyHiNews.com

Rau: Good conditions mean more crowded trails

Diana Lynn Rau

The Gods have blessed us with good early snow conditions this year. Hopefully that continues into the full winter season. That blessing also means our trails are crowded, lodging and parking are all hard to come by, and tempers can sometimes flare.

How much extra thought does it take to control your temper and have encouraging words or teaching words to offer in a not-so-good situation or even say nothing at all when nothing else seem appropriate? What ever happened to old fashion manners? Too often our kids learn poor manners from watching other family members or friends. “Just wanna be like you Dad…” rings true all too often. Please try to set a good example.

All forms of skiing, snowshoeing and other back country usage have common courtesies that are considered “rules” by some people. Cutting in lift lines is something that kids ski classes need to be able to do and the instructors do it courteously in ways that make you feel good to work with them. Cutting people off skiing downhill is dangerous and is never courteous. Awareness of your surroundings and the level of accomplishment of the people around you is particularly important in Alpine skiing. More accomplished skiers need to show more patience.

Nordic skiing has more options. People are more spread out on trails. When tracks exist on trails, learn the rules of the track. When coming fast down a track and encountering uphill skiers, it is not always easy to avoid them. Most of the time it is easier for the uphill skier to step out of the track and let the downhill skier pass. But this is not a hard and fast rule as the downhill skier may be very accomplished and can easily step out of the track while the uphill skier is struggling. The important issue is for experienced skiers to allow the struggling skier space and vice versa. Don’t be two or three across the trail blocking all those who want to pass. That is a recipe for trouble no matter what your experience. Hopefully that courtesy and patience can carry over into the Nordic Center or parking lot where people of all levels and ages are concentrated and often dogs are thrown into the mix.

When teaching kids, we teach that just being outdoors enjoying the sun and snow can be fun. We teach that they can do the needed skills themselves if shown how. Patience while they try to do things is paramount. Rewards (yes, that often means candy or other foods) work wonders because the kids are consuming energy and need to replace it. We teach that if we find candy wrappers on the trail, there will be no more candy rewards. Water is another important issue as well as clothing adjustments for heat and cold. We teach to move over to let other skiers pass. We look for animal tracks and other gems of nature that present themselves and what to do when wild animals are present. We teach the kids to help each other and often use other young people as helpers. All good lessons for adults as well.

Kids free lessons for five- to 10-year-olds presented by Grand Nordic start Jan. 11 through March 1 at Snow Mountain Ranch. No experience is needed and trail pass and equipment are provided by SMR for the lesson. Most classic or skate lessons are progressive but there is always space for drop-ins. Lessons begin at 1-2:30 p.m., if you need equipment, please come 30 minutes earlier to be fitted with gear. Parents are encouraged to help when possible to learn how we work with their children. Call Snow Mountain Ranch at 970-887-2150 ext 4173 to register or call Grand Nordic 970-887-0547 for more information.

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