I'm starting this page because I love to cross country ski, and would like to share some info. Also, there are people posting on here who know more than I do and have better gear, so maybe they have some tips as well. There are all sorts of neat kinds of cross country skis nowadays.
I went skiing today at Pole Knoll near Greer. All my co-workers said I was nuts, because it was about 10 degrees out at 8 a.m. Pretty cold. However I got to the ski area, started out with two base layers (NON cotton!) and a hand-knitted Norwegian wool sweater. My pants were fleece, with a good non cotton pair of long johns underneath. My wind-proof jacket, extra mittens and extra beanie hat, etc., were in my pack. Within 10 minutes of relatively flat skiing, where I was partially breaking trail (lots of work) I ditched the beanie hat and mittens I was wearing--went bare handed. The sun shining on the snow really does make it warmer, and also you burn a lot of calories while breaking trail.
The moral of the story is: Never listen to your co-workers. I had a wonderful time. I broke trail up Summit trail, then skiied downhill in the tracks I had made. There was no one else there. It was sunny, with no wind. It doesn't get much better than that in the woods!
SKIS Mine are old Karhus, non-wax. The main thing in AZ is to make sure whichever ski you buy has metal edges, and that someone knowledgeable fits you to them. If you opt for wax, learn to wax. If you opt for no wax skis, get a can of silicon spray. This is to spray on the bottoms of the skis in warm conditions, or they will stick like glue. You can even carry the can in your pack if it's spring snow.
Poles and boots are whatever suits you or whatever is available. But you need to get some gaiters, or you'll end up with snow in your socks. Due to my very narrow foot, my boots are too wide for me, and what I go through to make them not give me blisters...sheesh! The worst blisters I have ever had I got from my xc boots!! I start with duct tape on my heels, then baby powder for moisture absorption, extra insoles, tight lacing, combination of socks.
PACK Camelback tubes freeze. I use a water bottle, fill it with hot water at home. I take a first aid kit with a lot of fire starting stuff. A can of Sterno would not be overkill. I take extra mittens, extra beanie, sometimes extra socks. I take my cell phone--it does work at Pole Knoll. A bit of high calorie snacks. My camera, in a warm place or the batteries freeze.
Make sure you bring a sun hat, put it on over your beanie, and sunglasses. Sun blindness is no fun at all. Sunscreen, too, if you're out all day.
In the car I leave a thermos of hot cocoa or coffee, and a cup. Having a sleeping bag in there in case of emergency would probably be a good idea as well.