LAST WEEKEND, I did something I had never done before.

No, I did not shoot a Boone and Crockett buck. No, I did not catch a 40-pound muskie and no, I did not go five for five on fast flying mallards driven by a 30-mph tailwind.

Last weekend, I went cross-country skiing in October; never did that before. I have skied Razorback Ridges in every month from and including November to May, but never October. I had a great time on the trail with Gordie, the faithful yellow lab, trotting alongside.

Skiing has been a part of my life since I was 7. That was when Mus-Ski Mountain, one of the finest little downhill ski areas in north Wisconsin, opened a few miles west of Sayner. I skied Mus-Ski Mountain until it closed after my senior year of high school, the victim of newer and much bigger downhill ski areas opening in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

For more than a dozen years, I skied no more. Then, something I sometimes regret, happened to me during the winter of 1981-’82. At the urging of “Dirty” Doug McDrew, I put on cross-country skis for the first time in my life.

I laid out a small system of trails across the road from my house using logging roads built in the 1950s. All that winter, Doug and I maintained those trails with a snowmobile, bed spring and homemade track setter right from my doorstep. I was hooked on cross-country skiing.

In the winter of 1983-’84, Doug did me one more dastardly turn. A veteran of one American Birkebeiner ski race, he conned me into doing my first. From that moment on, the Birkebeiner became a huge slice of my winter life. It still is.

I’ve oft repeated stories of my first Birkie, the one detailing how, immediately after the race, I proclaimed it would be my last. Well, in February of 2020, at the age of 70, I finished my 20th 34-mile Birkie and became a member of the Birchleggers Club.

I signed up to do my sixth Kortelopet this year, normally a 29K companion race now held the day before the Birkie. At about 18 miles, it is much better suited for my fitness and training levels. I was looking forward to it with a great deal of anticipation.

Then came COVID-19. The Birkie and Kortelopet were suddenly up in the air. Would we or wouldn’t we? As of now, the answer is we will. It will be a greatly modified week of racing, like almost all sporting events nowadays, without spectators, not even family, but it will be a Birkie unless something drastic happens during the next few months.

As of now, the courses will be modified and somewhat shorter. There will be fewer aid stations. There will be different bib pick-up, start and finish procedures.

It could even be a Birkie at Razorback Ridges. Along with new on-site plans, the Birkie organization has announced skiers will be able to do a virtual Birkie wherever they live.

Plans are evolving, but as of now, a skier may do a virtual Birkie, Kortelopet or Prince Haakon race at the site of their choosing, either using a GPS-based app or sworn statement from a reliable witness to verify they skied the appropriate distance for the race of their choosing.

With my desire to stay COVID-free, I am strongly leaning toward a virtual Birkie at Razorback. I would much rather be skiing the Birkie trail Kortelopet course, but unless things change and maybe they will, it probably will be a virtual race for me.

That could be why, with an adequate cover of snow in October, and with 12-year-old Salomon boots and even older Fischer waxless skis, I decided to ski last weekend. Believe it or not, it was fairly good for what we skiers call rock ski conditions.

I was happy to trudge along at a slow pace, leaving the joyous bounding and running to Gordie. I negotiated every hill with no problems, up or down, until the last.

That one is a long glide, a final downhill leading back to the trail head and I was almost to the bottom when a bare patch of dirt and gravity intervened. I saw it coming and lifted one ski off the ground, but not yet having learned how to fly, had to keep the other on the ground.

It did not slide well on dirt, leaves and twigs. However, I quickly did learn how to fly, at least for a short distance. Fortunately, I was able to keep from going straight down, instead landing much like I would trying to make a headfirst slide into second on a stolen base attempt.

Sliding to a stop, I learned two things. One was that I was still pretty much in one piece. Two, bare ground that has seen steady sub-freezing temperatures is not soft at all.

I think I caught amusement on Gordie’s face as he came over to lick mine. Gradually pulling my legs together from a wide-V spread, and getting my arms and poles untangled, I managed to regain a standing position with mostly just my pride wounded.

From there it was a 1K ski over flat terrain to the Razorback warming building where I proudly signed in as the first and obviously most foolhardy skier to hit the trails this season. It was so much fun, I did it again the next day, that time with no mishaps.

The snow we have may well melt by the end of this week and who knows, it could be another month before the skis get clipped on again, but already, I know that cross-country skiing is still as much in my blood as that first time on a trail so many years ago.