Thursday, January 7, 2016

Free xc ski, snowshoe day a fantastic opportunity to learn outdoor winter sports

This all happens on Saturday at Ponderosa Park, Lake Cascade State Park,
and the Idaho City Park n' Ski areas in SW Idaho! Just do it! 
Wendy skate skiing at Ponderosa State Park. Did you notice that she's smiling!  
Free xc ski day at Lake Cascade State Park in Cascade 
Fetching views of Payette Lake from the trail leading to Osprey Point
My autistic son Drew loves to snowshoe. He's been doing it since he was 10.
Here, we're doing the Meadow Loop in Ponderosa Park.  
Hi all,

After many snow storms in December and early January, the mountains are chock-full of snow and just about any winter activity that you'd like to do is now in prime-time mode for snow play!

On Saturday, all of the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation Nordic cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snow-biking destinations are open free of charge in hopes of luring folks to the mountains to try xc skiing and snowshoeing and playing in the snow.

I highly recommend that you go for it. It's great exercise after the holiday season, and the weather looks favorable on Saturday with temperatures in the mid-20s and maybe a little light snow. Anyone who can walk, can snowshoe. Cross-country skiing is a little more challenging, but once you learn how to balance and glide, it's a real joy.

If you go to Lake Cascade State Park in Cascade or Ponderosa State Park in McCall, they've got free gear for people to use along with free lessons (xc skiing or skate skiing). And the trail fees are waived, too! How can you beat that! Free food and hot drinks, too! Try to get there between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. for the best shot at the free food and instruction. See more below about the trail systems at both parks.

At the Idaho City Park n' Ski Areas, parking fees are waived on Saturday at all of the Park n' Ski areas. But you'll need to bring your own xc skis or snowshoes. Free hot chocolate and snacks are being served at the Rocky Ridge yurt, accessed from the Whoop-Um-Up parking lot, and at the Whispering Pines yurt, accessed from the Gold Fork parking lot and trail system. These areas are located northeast of Idaho City via Idaho State Highway 21. Travel time is about 1.5 hours from Boise.

XC skiing and snowshoeing should be stellar at all three of these locations. All of the trails are freshly groomed, and there's a huge amount of snow off-trail for adventure-seekers. Make sure you bring a pair of ski poles for the best experience if you plan to do off-trail snowshoeing. In addition, be sure to dress for cold weather (long underwear required) and wear some type of snow pants to stay comfortable. Wear a winter hat and warm gloves/mittens.

Ponderosa State Park has over 12 miles of ultrawide, groomed xc trails and 3.5 miles of marked, super-cool snowshoe trails in a meadow and ridgeline setting.

Lake Cascade State Park has about eight miles of groomed xc trails, starting from the Van Wyck Boat Ramp area in the city of Cascade. You can ski  from Van Wyck to the Ridgeview trail and cross Lake Cascade by the dam to ski or snowshoe on the Crown Point Trail. Parks staff at this location are serving hot dogs and burgers for lunch on Saturday, that's a bonus!

The Idaho City Park n' Ski Areas feature multiple trailheads and an integrated trail system that connects between the Gold Fork/Skyline trailhead and the Banner Ridge trailhead. There's about 40 miles of trail total. Saturday would be a great day to check it out and try one of the trails to see if xc skiing or snowshoeing are your cup of tea.

If you need some inexpensive gear, try to pick up some xc skis, boots and poles or a pair of snowshoes at Backcountry Pursuit in Boise or Eagle.
The new goomer stuck in the ravine

Leo goes to work on a tree with a chainsaw ... 
Realize that it's a small miracle that the Idaho City Park n' Ski Areas are open this weekend, considering the major snow storms in December created a huge amount of wind, and blowing and drifting snow, dropping more than 100 trees across the trails, many of them green trees (harder to cut). And a new groomer slid off the trail into a ravine, forcing Leo Hennessy of IDPR to summon multiple crews of volunteers on multiple days to dig out the groomer and cut trees out of the groomed trails. Happily, all of that has occurred. Thanks to everyone!

"Pretty much the whole trail system is groomed," he said. "The trails are a little soft in the middle for skate skiing and fat biking, but the conditions are excellent for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing."

Don't miss out on this opportunity get into snowshoeing or xc skiing! Thanks to IDPR for putting it on!
- Also, this weekend is the Western Idaho Fly Fishing Expo in Garden City. If you're into fly fishing, this is a great event to attend. Good for newbies, too! There's a casting pond, instruction, videos, fly tying, banquet and more.

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