X-Country Perisher Valley

 

The Perisher Trails

 

 

Through the snowgums

Diamonte crystals

In their cool white splendour

pierce the sharp day

The blue expanse blankets

The white tree line

The tracks of our skis

The only sign

Of our passing

 

 

It’s late July, and after an exhilarating week of top to bottom downhill skiing at Thredbo, my son Matt and I pull into Perisher Valley. Instead of heading to the lifts of Front Valley we’ve opted for something a little quieter and turn away from the peaks, and with skis in hand, head to the gentle ridge opposite the ski-tube terminal. Tired of lift lines and expensive tickets our adventure today lies with our instructor from Wilderness Sports who is to introduce us to the delights of cross-county skiing or- flip-flopping. This ancient European sport encompasses nature, fitness and sheer practicality for getting around the snow covered lands. With skinny skis and comfortable boots that let the heel move, it is possible to walk across and up the slopes while also enjoying the down hill rush, albeit with a few more wobbles than you experience on down-hill skis.

 

We meet our instructor near the purpose built day shelter where we have left our day packs. After a brief introduction we are soon plodding up the groomed basin and learning how to side-step, snow plough and turn; these skis have a mind of their own, and even though the slope is gentle, our bottoms soon get to know it intimately. With a little effort we are soon off to the start of the loop tracks. These tracks offer beginners, 2km, 5km, 10km and 20 km loops for skiers of all standards, and have groomed paths through the snow gums and glistening white landscapes.

 

We step up-hill for a few hundred metres and easily build up a sweat even though we are in light thermals; racers in training flash by in colourful lycra and we move off the track to let them pass. At a high point we turn, admire the view, step into the groomed tracks and let gravity take hold. We schuss down the trail with our skis locked into the grooves and feel the curve of the trail pull and pushing as gravity takes hold.

 

With our lesson over, Matt and I pace ourselves and set out on the 5km loop track, soon we are on our own and the snow glistens silently as we look over to the frantic ant-like activity of lifts and skiers at Front Valley. In the quiet white we have only our thoughts and the rhythm of our breathing for company. We glide down the trails only to side-step up the opposite slope while crows curiously watch our jaunty steps. On descending back into the basin we both approach a corner too fast and careen off the track, snow flutters and softly cushion’s us as we laugh at our misfortune. We right ourselves, and drift gently back into civilization. It has been a wonderful experience and we have already agreed to return next year and explore the longer tracks and blankets of the white silence.

Looking to Perisher Valley The white open road

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