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Old-Fashioned Mountain Activities: Part 4

By Afton Aikens

The final part of this four-week post series will introduce you to cross-country skiing, brought to Canada at the turn of the 20th century by Scandinavian immigrants. At first, skeptical locals thought snowshoeing to be a more practical means of winter transportation. But with the advent of ski lodges, things began to change.

Photo: Travel Alberta

Photo: Travel Alberta

For Families to Backcountry Enthusiasts

Cross-country skiing is now one of the most popular activities in the Rockies. Perfect for a chilly day, this aerobic sport allows skiers to build heat and stay comfortable for longer, says Paula Beauchamp of Walks & Talks Jasper. Modern boots are “10 times more comfortable and warmer than they (used to be),” she adds.

Beauchamp’s Secrets of the Mysterious Maligne Valley Tour includes an opportunity to ski on frozen Maligne Lake in Jasper—a truly majestic setting. “People enjoy the rhythm of gliding on the snow and the silence of the mountains,” she says.

While cross-country skiing can be fun for families, it also appeals to hard-core backcountry enthusiasts. Today’s mountaineering equipment includes lightweight shaped skis with steel edges, hard shell boots and convertible bindings that allow the heel to lock for parallel turning down steeper slopes.

Skate skiing is the variation of cross-country skiing often preferred by those seeking a solid outdoor workout. Its vigorous edging technique differs from the traditional ‘stride and glide.’ Increasingly, cross-country ski trails are groomed with parallel tracks for classic skiing alongside wide flat skate skiing lanes. Take your pick of easy or more difficult routes, including trails that are new for the 2014/15 winter season.

Winter: Old-School Style

This winter, unplug from the distractions of modern life and sample some old-fashioned fun in the snow. Whether you choose a mush-your-own dog sledding experience, a snowshoeing adventure, an enchanting sleigh ride or a cross-country ski tour on an awe-inspiring trail—you’ll be delighted. These traditional methods of winter travel still deliver a timeless mix of backcountry scenery and solitude.

>> Read part three: sleigh riding

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