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The right of public access & cross-country skiing
The Swedish countryside is open for all. You can easily travel on cross-country skis along groomed tracks, and using the skating technique in unprepared terrain high in the mountains early on a spring morning is a wonderful experience. You must, however, remember to show the natural world consideration. It is not permitted to ski across newly planted forest or land that is easily damaged. Spruce seedlings may be totally covered by newly fallen snow, so you must be particularly careful when skiing through forests. When the snow is thicker and more densely packed, in contrast, the land is not so easily affected by skiers, and it is often acceptable to ski more freely in such conditions. If you stop for a break, have a good look round before continuing to make sure that you haven’t left any rubbish.
What should I take with me?
If you are a beginner in cross-country skiing, there are some things you should be aware of. If you wear the right clothes and pack your rucksack properly, the trip will be much more fun. Some cross-country trails climb into the mountains where the weather can change suddenly – so check the weather just before setting out, and choose clothing to suit.
- Avoid cotton garments next to the body: choose instead underclothes and thermal undergarments of wool or synthetic material. You will in this way remain warm, even when you get wet or sweat while skiing.
- Wear a pair of thin woollen socks and make sure that your feet have plenty of room in the boots, which will help to prevent them getting cold.
- Your choice of clothes depends to a certain degree on how fast you intend to ski. If you ski rapidly, it’s a good idea to have less clothing, since the skiing itself will keep you warm. If you plan to take it easy along the trail, you may need to wear more clothes. But make sure that you are not wearing too much clothing: it’s better to feel slightly chilly just before you set out, since you will start to generate heat when you ski.
- A thin jacket that protects from the wind without being fully windtight is preferable. In warm weather, a sweater with a wicking capacity is enough for the outermost layer. Legwear can be either tights or wind-resistant trousers. A buff can be worn round your neck or on your head to keep warm in the wind or snow.
- The white snow reflects sunlight. Apply sun block with a high factor and wear sunglasses, even if the sun does not penetrate the cloud cover. This will prevent sunburn.
- If you are planning a long or high-intensity trip, remember to take water or a hot drink, and something to eat. Use a waist belt to carry equipment or a small rucksack (the type used by joggers is suitable). If you travel around a track in the form of a loop, you can leave drink at the start and take a drink after every lap. If you are going out for a calm trip just to enjoy yourself, you can, of course, take more equipment with you.
- A thick jacket and dry woolly hat can be comfortable to put on when you end the trip.
Some cross-country ski tracks take you up into the mountains, and it is important to keep safety firmly in focus. The Mountain Safety Council of Sweden has a website with useful practical advice about keeping safe in snow.
The website Längdskidor.se (in Swedish) gives advice about buying cross-country skis. It also presents advice from famous skiers, and a useful guide to waxing cross-country skis.