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Cross-country skiing

A few months ago one of our friends moved down to Cromwell, and it was decided before she left that we would have to have a girl’s weekend down there at some point in the future.  Now it should be noted, before you start conjuring up visions of us sitting round getting manicures and having pillowfights in our pyjamas, that we aren’t particularly girly girls.  No indeedy.  In fact, it was decreed that our girl’s weekend should consist of something adventurous, and so we set off on a cross-country skiing expedition.

After a pleasant Friday exploring the sights of Arrowtown and Cromwell and celebrating Clare’s birthday, we set off up the mountain to the Snow Farm.  After getting fitted out with skis and leaving our overnight gear in a pile for the skidoo, we ventured outside for a few pre-skiing photographs and a lesson.

Now cross-country skis aren’t anything like downhill skis.  For starters, your heel isn’t attached to the back of the ski.  And then, more scarily, you don’t have any edges on your skis.  Which means that everything you have ever learnt about stopping and turning instantly goes out the window.  When asked about how to stop, our helpful instructor offered the following wisdom: “Just keep going until you run out of hill.  Or failing that, fall over” Helpful!  Thankfully there are grooves along the tracks that your skis fit into which mostly takes care of the turning bit.  Except when the grooves randomly stop and your legs do their own thing, usually in different directions!

Here Rachel demonstrates a perfect racer’s tuck, and then the grooves run out… watched with the sound on for the full “chicken” effect.
After our lesson, we were let loose and it was on to the Bob Lee Hut – our overnight destination.  It was an absolutely amazing day.  Perfect weather and great company, interspersed with hilarious skiing moments.
Happily skiing along the trail in the glorious sunshine
Lunch stop at the Meadow Hut
Maaike demonstrating her seated stopping technique.
It might look like I’m in control
 but all goes wrong very shortly after this photograph!

The Bob Lee Hut was reached without too much drama and proved to be a cosy place to stay the night. Our gear had kindly been delivered by skidoo, so we had been able to pack some tasty treats.  We cooked up a storm (it turned out, quite literally) and were treated to a stunning sunset before retiring to bed to rest some weary (and newly-discovered) muscles.

Preparing a stunning dinner of green curry and mulled wine

Maaike proudly showing off her multitude of stripes (and sexy pink slippers)

The next day we woke to snow.  Of the falling variety.  In fact, of the blizzard variety.  We hastily packed our gear and set off into the gloom, trying to get out to the carpark before the storm really set in.  There was quite a bit of fresh snow on the tracks, making it difficult to find the grooves for your skis, let alone stay in them!  It was cold and windy and we were rugged up in all of the clothing we had with us.  I was even wearing my Antarctica balaclava that I never wore on the ice.  It was cold. But it was still great skiing and a lot of fun.  In fact, I think the contrast in the weather added a lot to the trip and gave us some stories of epic skiing missions to tell for years to come.

Check out these happy ladies (at least I think Michelle & I are happy – it’s a bit hard to tell!)
Now it turned out that this was not the end of our adventure.  The heavy snow meant that the roads were somewhat treachorous and we had an interesting drive down the mountain, followed by a mad dash to get to Queenstown before the road closed.  Even in a 4WD, the roads were nasty with almost 10cm on the ground and more falling rapidly.  Dave managed to get us to Queenstown, just.   And then get himself back home again.  Checked in to our accommodation to find that Rachel’s flight had been cancelled, so four hungry skiers headed into town for dinner.  The next morning woke to more snow and more cancelled flights, so it was off to book a bus and then explore the sights (or at least the open ones) of a very snowy Queenstown.  Having not seen any men for a few days, we built one of our own.

Tuesday bought us more snow, a cancelled bus, two trips to the wool shop, another cancelled bus and then, finally, a bus home to Christchurch.  Via Dunedin!  Let’s just say that this is not a very direct route and not one I would recommend (unless desperate).

So another epic adventure and one that I would totally recommend (maybe without the snow storm and getting stranded bits).  Cross-country skiing is definitely something i enjoyed crossing off my list and I’m keen to add it to another list sometime soon.

Speaking of lists, it’s time for new list of 32 things.  Check back soon!