Having ripped nearly all the tendons in one knee while X-C skiing 20 years ago, I hesitate to recommend it. If you do go in for skiing instead of snowshoeing, make sure your bindings have a release feature if you fall (I had the 3-pin type, so it was my knee that "gave" instead of the binding).
Snowshoeing is easier, IMHO. However, a pair of ski poles (or trekking poles with snow baskets) really help. Where snowshoeing becomes frustrating is on the downhill, particularly if there are X-C skiers in your party! At least in soft snow, you need to make a path separate from the ski tracks, unless you enjoy being sworn at by the skiers. Snowshoeing is harder work than skiing except on steep uphill slopes.
I also suggest renting (either skis or snowshoes) before you invest. I finally gave up doing the winter thing (in western Oregon, we can hike snow-free most of the year, although of course it's pretty soggy), so I never did buy snowshoes. My skis are still sitting in the garage, unused since the accident 20 years ago.
Edited by OregonMouse (09/18/09 10:05 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey