Cross Country Skiing at Virginia Meissner

Well Worth Braving a Blizzard

Low temps, heavy snow, & a steady wind made for short stops at Virginia Meissner Sno Park. Nancy & Al discuss trail options.

After a perfectly stunning cross-country ski day on Thursday, my friends and I were pumped to get out the following day for a longer run. We made plans to meet at the Virginia Meissner Sno Park, on Mt. Bachelor, at 11:30 a.m. … a moderate start time to let the weather warm into the upper teens.

While most of us were undeterred by the morning’s steady snowfall, Sheri decided to bail. She sent me the following text: “Yikes. You are hard core! I’m a fair weather player. Enjoy!”

On the drive up Nancy, Al, Kim, and I discussed the fine line between hard core and stupid, prompted by Sheri’s remark. There’s a wide range of interpretation to the term ‘hard core.’ For most of us hard core is related to weather, distance, tempo, and/or level of intensity. For me, hard core is any combination of the above plus leaving early in the morning. I savor a leisurely start time.

Nancy suggested that hard core crosses the line over into Stupid when participants underestimate risk and plan poorly. We were well-prepared for the weather, had great gear including some survival tools, terrific snow tires on an all-wheel drive vehicle, and followed well-marked trails to avoid the danger of getting lost. Temps were low enough that hypothermia was a real risk for the unprepared or inexperienced.

Fortunately, my like-minded friends make good decisions, are experienced at cold-weather play, and enjoy exercising at a similar intensity. Our outings are both about the workout as well as the social aspect. We encourage one another to develop our skills and confidence — and not to wuss out when the wind is howling.

Heavy snow filled in groomed tracks and made for slow going on the downhill — which was perfect for developing skills & confidence.

It was a bit of a blizzard at Meissner, with beards and exposed hair freezing solid, but we had a grand time as long as we kept moving. Kim got some great downhill practice, building her confidence. Nancy worked on uphill strength. As for me, I loved keeping up with Al — whereas in the downhill he leaves me in the dust. An adrenaline-addict, Al got a good workout but I did see him gazing longingly in the direction of Bachelor’s downhill slopes.

If you’ve never been to Meissner, it’s a terrific, beginner-friendly Sno Park with more challenging options for advanced skiers and snowshoers. Trails are groomed for both skate and classic skiers … although tracks fill in quickly during heavy storms.

After our outing we stopped in the warming hut and dried off by the fire, sharing hot tea, nuts, and chocolate. We were a bit envious of the skiers who were clever enough to bring beer … it looked tempting.

As we carefully made our way down the mountain, with the windshield freezing up, we were glad we had braved the elements. A warm sense of companionship filled the car. The shared sense of adventure made for a memorable day.

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