I've had my new skis for 5 days, and been out on them twice for a total of about 2.5 hours. They are Karhu Pioneer touring with Salomon SNS Profil auto bindings. My boots are Salomon Escape B5, and the poles are Swix ST061. It seems like a nice package, and I got it for a reasonable price from a good store.
My first hour was spent on familiar ground - the woods and bogs south of the pond at the end of my street. No groomed trails here, only the multiple tracks left by many snowmobiles. Not only did this make for a rough surface to travel over, but the machines were zipping by every few minutes and had to be avoided. I had maybe 3 minor falls on the way out, and none returning. A successful first time on skis.
Today I was a bit more ambitious. I travelled a trail I was unfamiliar with, heading west of the same pond, so I would have to practice my navigation. I also added the weight of my backpack and enough supplies to keep me alive for a day or two in an emergency. Included were a first aid kit, some power bars, map, water, cellular phone, GPSr, waterproof matches, compass, flashlight, multitool, extra clothes, flare, and a few other items. I also brought along the camera.
The terrain was similar, but fewer snowmobiles appear to travel this way, so I only had to get out of their way 3 or 4 times. I had hoped to find my way back to the route I had used the last time so that I would have a nice 5 or 6km loop to practice on. This path, however, seemed to want to keep going generally west, so I decided to turn around an go back the way I came in. The machines had mostly erased my tracks, but I didn't need a trail of bread crumbs to find my way.
I have read that beginners should get really good on the groomed trails, and take a couple lessons before considering going where I have gone, but too late now. This is how I learned everything from computers to kayaking. Besides, in about 6 weeks I could be in much worse while participating in the Raid Avalon.