Cross Country Skiing with Kids

Cross country skiing in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.

Oh, the plans I had for cross country skiing in 2012! That resolution was as successful for me as going gluten-free, but with each new year, comes new opportunities. Determined to make it right, I set my sights on skiing Pocaterra in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, the first week in January.

Which isn’t as easy as it sounds, when you’ve got a cautious kid content to while away the day indoors. In our house, anything remotely adventurous must be cleverly disguised. We never hike, but look for wildflowers. Downhill skiing is best served up as hot chocolate sampling on the hill. But cross country skiing? Well, I wasn’t sure how to spin this one.

Cross country skiing Pocaterra

Eventually, I decide a winter adventure is in order. We’d pack a picnic, scout the ultimate outdoor spot and bring along skis, skates and a sled, just in case we ran into something fabulous.

“How long will the drive be,” demands my eight-year-old, once she hears of the plan.

“Oh, not too long, about 45 minutes,” I reply breezily.

“Too long!” she wails.

“You can take the iPad,” I plead.

“Fine! And my new sticker book,” she counters.

Where to cross country ski close to Calgary

Fully loaded, we set off. I debate about whether to get gas and clear my windshield, but as with any adventure, risks are in order. Surprisingly there is a gas station along Route 40.

Arriving hungry and cranky (thanks to annoying 2013 New Year’s diet resolution), there is the immediate issue of not spotting a toboggan hill nor an outdoor rink in the vicinity.

“What! We have to ski?” bemoans my child.

Intrigued by the warming up hut, Eve rallies after a fun lunch of Wagon Wheels and other trans-fat snacks. By the time we strap on our skis, she’s back to her old self.


Note to self: Do yourself a favour and learn how to read a trail map.

Tips for cross country skiing with kids

We don’t really know where we’re going, but I consider anything longer than 15 minutes outdoors a rousing success, so it doesn’t really matter. Eve chooses a well marked trail to the left and we set off making jerky back and forth motions with our legs, arms flailing wildly. I can see how cross country skiing is considered one of the top calorie burning exercises – especially when you’re not at all efficient at it.

A permanent grin plastered on her face, Eve proves to be a trooper, despite the first few minutes of uphill battle. I don’t even feel sorry for her that her skis are old. Like, really old. As in, they used to be mine when I was her age. I’m sure they need wax or something, but what she doesn’t know doesn’t seem to hurt her.

Pocaterra cross country skiing

Trails are groomed in

Gliding through the forest, we make our way traversing up and down little swells, too small to be called hills, but steep enough to plough into each other. It’s agreed after crashing into her the second time, I will ski in front.

After about 20 minutes, we come upon a rest area and settle in for the main event, hot chocolate – the special kind, made with water and drunk from the thermos cup. Eve pulls out her new Christmas binoculars and looks around for predators. Spotting none, she declares it safe stopping ground for our beverage break. After a few minutes she whips out her second Christmas gift, a key chain thermometer/compass. She reckons we’re headed northeast, which is OK, because Calgary is roughly in the same direction, should we get lost.

After rehydrating, we ponder going further, but Eve thinks it best to head back to the warming up hut, since we don’t want to overdo it on our first day. Though firm in leaving, Eve grants her consent to come back this way again. And I, finally able to tick off one of my New Year’s resolutions (albeit one year later), and think this is good enough.

Have you ever gone cross country skiing with your kids?

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