Navigating Nordic

A guide to XC skiing.

As outdoor enthusiasts, people are always putting us in boxes. Dirtbags, trout bums, sledheads: the list goes on and on. Though occasionally annoying, labels can help when trying to determine disciplines within a given sport. Cross-country skiing, for example, is made up of several sub-categories, and if you’re new to the sport, you might not know where to start. Here’s a chart to help you find your way.

You are: Interested in a new winter sport
You have: 2-3 hours on Saturdays and Sundays
You like: Simplicity in gear
You need: Skis, boots, and poles—plus breathable winter outerwear
You’ll ski: The Bozeman Creek trail—it’s a popular groomed out-and-back, so go as far as you’d like, then turn around and try your best not to take anyone out on the downhill 

You are: A fitness freak
You have: An hour at lunch
You like: Being on tiny sticks that can only move in a V pattern
You need: Lycra, lots of lycra—and a flair for socially-acceptable exhibitionism
You’ll ski: At Highland Glen near the hospital, and be back at your desk before anyone knows you were gone 

You are: Up for a mini-adventure
You like: Getting away into the woods with your pooch pal
You have: A half-day on weekends
You need: A touring setup (basically classic skis with metal edges and beefier boots), and some water, snacks, and layers
You’ll ski: Up in Hyalite—head to any trailhead and go, and don’t be afraid to get off the main track and explore 

You are: Hell-bent on going deeper into the woods than you did last winter
You have: All the time in the world
You like: Searching out animal tracks and creating your own route through the trees
You need: Touring skis, burly boots with built-in gaiters, and adjustable poles for varying terrain—plus winter outerwear and survival skills
You’ll ski: Anywhere there’s snow, but we suggest the Lee Metcalf Wilderness