Lately snowfall has become a rare event in the state of Arizona and, when it occurs, is welcome. Snow in Arizona doesn’t last long and it disappears quickly under Arizona’s bright sun.
In the first days of January this year we were lucky to get a whopping 12 inches of snow in the high country. As soon as my husband and I learned about it, we hopped into our car and drove north. When we drove through Flagstaff we noticed very little snow along the streets and a very thin snow cover in a park. We became concerned about the presence of snow in Arizona Nordic Village, which is only 15 miles northwest of Flagstaff. We even contemplated about snowshoeing or hiking instead of cross-country skiing.
We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the Nordic Village because there was enough snow for skiing. Some trails were groomed and people were happily snowshoeing and skiing near the lodge and into the woods.
After friendly banter with the lodge’s staff about the weather, I paid $ 22 for skiing equipment and a trail pass. The equipment included skis, boots and poles. Another friendly lady offered me three different pairs of ski boots to try on. I choose one, grabbed my skis and poles and rushed to a trailhead to have some serious fun.
It was sunny and warm with a temperature above freezing. Snow on the trail was packed by the skiers who started earlier. At first I skied slowly to feel the traction between the skis and snow. I took the Babbitt trail, which was the most popular. When the trail headed deeper into the shady area of the woods, the snow became less sticky. I glided along aspens and pine trees, which stood knee deep in pristine, white snow cover. Their fluffy branches with long fragrant needles still held chunks of snow. These chunks of snow burdened the pines’ branches and weighted them down. When the burden became too heavy the branches shook the snow off and bounced back to gain their freedom. I was mesmerized by these movements and tried to catch it on my camera. When I skied along the Black Bear trail, where snow was not touched by the sun, I saw how pines shook off snow from their branches. The snow slowly floated down and across the trail like sparkling silver magic dust. Even though it was mesmerizing to watch, it can also be surprisingly cold if the load of snow falls onto your neck.
It was so quiet. Once in a while a crow broke the silence of the snow covered woods. The air was saturated by an intoxicating fragrance of pine needles and the crisp freshness of snow. This magical mix of scents was accentuated by the warmth of the sun. I felt ecstatic and full of joy just because of the breathing this delicious air while skiing uphill along the trail.
Sliding downhill was very exciting as I am not much of a downhill skier. In fact, I avoided the steepest part of the trail on my way back because the snow was sticky there. I took off my skis and walked down until the trail’s slope became gentler. There, I put my skis on the trail and was going to clasp my boots in the binders. Before I did that my skis took off downhill without me. They were sliding downhill faster and faster leaving me behind. I had to chase them and I ran as fast as I could with my knapsack on my back. Finally, I caught up with my skis, placed them across the trail and clasped in my boots in the binders.
I wonder why skiing gives so much bliss and fun? Perhaps, it’s because of the freedom of gliding along the snow trail. Maybe it’s the unpredictability of what beautiful scenery will be around the next curve of the trail. It’s also a pleasure to take a moment and admire a winter wonderland and chat with fellow skiers on the trail.
When we came back home, our cat Smokey climbed on my shoulder and meticulously sniffed my hair. This smell was something new to her. I guess it was the magical mixture of snow, pines and the sun that made me feel so ecstatic and content. We also enjoyed hanging around a fireplace in the lodge. The lodge is very cozy and has a table and comfortable chairs.
The Arizona Nordic Village is open on Mondays, Thursdays, and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. It is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. It is located on 16848 U.S 18, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, and is 15 miles northwest of Flagstaff, at the mile marker 232. The lodge’s phone number is (928) 220-0550.