Iowa On Skis
While places to cut through fresh powder are hard to come by in Iowa, what the state lacks in incline it more than makes up for
in miles of cross-country ski trails. Take full advantage of Iowa state and county parks, trails and preserves — many of which offer a mix of groomed and un-groomed trails — this winter, get some exercise and enjoy Iowa’s outdoors while cross-country skiing.
Before hitting the trail, be sure to layer up. Cross-country skiing is an aerobic activity, and it’s easy to overheat, even in cold conditions. Wear a moisture-wicking base layer, a lightweight top (fleece is a good option), tights or athletic pants, and a waterproof top layer. Take a pack and be sure to bring extra clothing, sunscreen, sunglasses, tissues, lip balm, water, snacks, your cell phone and a trail map. Don’t forget to stretch, and let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back before heading out.
Gear, including skis, boots, poles, glide wax, whistles and signaling mirrors, can be bought or rented from local outfitters and recreation centers, which provide equipment based off weight, height and shoe size. After gearing up, take some time to talk with an expert about trail etiquette, snow conditions and trails that may be well suited to your abilities.
When skiing, beginners, try to create a “V” with the skis. For uphill, the back of the skis should be angled inward to form the “V”, but for downhill the front of the skis should be angled. Start on an easy slope to practice the technique and go at your own pace. Advanced skiers, try a new hill or tougher skiing conditions.
After the fun, be sure to stretch, change into warm clothes, drink water and revel in the rewards of a day spent outdoors.