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COLUMN: A little snow and you’re good to go (VIDEO)

Clifford Crandall Jr.
Sentinel columnist
Posted 2/26/23

Cross-country skiing gets you out in the country and physically active. Check out the video in the article.

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COLUMN: A little snow and you’re good to go (VIDEO)


Cross-country skiing gets you out in the country and physically active. While you’re out, you will meet other people and perhaps see some wildlife, which can include deer, foxes, rabbits, and some beautiful sights of Mother Nature like her blanket of snow on trees and bushes.

This activity will challenge your mind and put a smile on your face. Note that this activity does look fairly tame and doable, but (oh yes, there is a but) there are moments that will truly challenge your emotions and balance. I suggest you check out some places that allow you to rent equipment before you invest your money and buy your own skis, boots, and poles.

(Check out this video, courtesy Clifford Crandall.)

The places where you can rent equipment also have trails for all skill levels as well as trail maps. Unlike downhill skis, cross-country skis are easier to get in and out of. They have one hook that secures your foot at the toes but nothing at the heel. It’s a quick snap to get in and a simple release to get out.

Alright, you have the skis, and you have them on. Using your poles, the next step, through a little slipping and sliding, is to work your way to the tracks on the trail. You see, there are tracks in the snow that are used by everyone. Put your skis in the tracks and alternate your feet, moving them forward and back while using the opposite pole in your hand to push yourself forward.

It appears simple enough, but keep in mind that the tracks are densely packed and can be quite slick. As you move along the trail through the woods or fields, the ground and therefore the tracks you are on may go up and down small hills. When you are on flat land, it is really very pleasant.

When you go up an incline, you will need to use your poles and do some work or step out of the tracks and sidestep your skis so that you can get to the top of the incline and then get back in the tracks to move forward. Now when you get to a decline or small downhill section, it gets exciting. You are going to pick up speed, and your poles won’t slow you down.


In the beginning, you may be surprised at the speed increase, much like I was. You may end up going fast enough that you will wobble and most likely fall. Not to worry, you’re not going fast enough that the fall will hurt, and you’re basically going to fall on your butt or to the left or right side of the tracks. If you are like me when I first started a couple of years ago, you will fall a few times before you realize you have to ride out the downhill increase in speed until you come to a level section or another small hill.

But it is all worth it to be out in the country with peaceful silence throughout the winter woods covered in a blanket of snow. As the flecks of snow fall, you become calm and relaxed. The world slows down around you, taking you to a place of appreciation for the moment and life itself.

My wife and I normally take a small backpack with something to drink and some cookies or other treats. This allows us to stop and get off the tracks of the trail, sit on a stump, log, or big rock, and enjoy a brief rest. This activity really does not require you to wear a helmet, but I recommend you dress in layers.

This is not like a snowman-building day. For the trails to be workable, they cannot be slushy, so there is going to be a chill in the air. Hats, gloves, and a warm coat are advisable. Nothing spoils the outing like getting too cold a mile from the car or lodge. That reminds me, many places have a lodge, and at the end of your outing there is hot cocoa with marshmallows waiting for you.

For more senior activity suggestions, go to

Keep in Mind: “Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” — Maya Angelou

Clifford Crandall Jr., 75, is founder and grandmaster of the American Martial Arts Institute, 8382 Seneca Turnpike in New Hartford. He has produced a monthly column and video series, “Still Alive and Kicking,” promoting life-enhancing activities for seniors.


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