Christmas has come early for the Rainy Lake Nordic Ski Club.
The local club’s cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails on Rocky Inlet Road already have been open for a week-and-a-half—well ahead of schedule.
“We’ve got probably the earliest start ever,” enthused club president Jim Krag.
“We’re off to a good start this season.”
The trails opened over the last weekend of November, with Krag noting they’re usually not up and running until the middle of December.
Some portions of the trail are not yet open for skiing—mainly the parts that travel over the beaver pond—but Krag said the majority of the system is ready for use.
“The entire trail system, both for snowshoeing and for skiing, isn’t open yet because there are some wet areas that we have to avoid,” he remarked.
“With all the snow, the ground’s not freezing underneath, so we have to avoid the wet areas ’til we get some colder weather.
“About 75 percent of the trail systems are open at this point,” he noted.
The perimeter part of the trails is open.
“You can ski as far as you ever can on the ski trail, and you can walk as far as you ever could on the snowshoe trail, it’s just that some of the intermediate loops aren’t complete yet,” Krag said.
“You can have a real good ski or a real long snowshoe walk if you want.”
Krag also is encouraged by the condition of the parts that are open as the paths are suitable for activity—and the scenery has been splendid.
“They’re really in good shape,” he said. “I was out there skiing and snowshoeing on the weekend, and the trails are in great shape.
“It’s beautiful out there,” he enthused. “It’s a winter wonderland with all the snow in the trees.”
The club also is anticipating hosting its first “Family Fun Day” of the season later this month, when the club will hold a wiener roast and provide hot chocolate after a stint out on the trails.
“We’ll start to have ‘Family Fun Days’ once a month, at least, going forward,” Krag noted.
“The first one’s scheduled for between Christmas and New Year’s,” he added. “We’re looking forward to that.”
Krag also said the club already has seen a spike in the number of new members, even though registration forms just were sent out last week.
Memberships cost $75 for an individual and $125 for a family, with Krag hoping those thinking about getting one take the plunge.
“We’re just encouraging people to get out and encouraging people to get memberships,” he remarked.
“It makes a good, healthy Christmas gift for someone.”
Krag concluded by thanking the volunteers who have helped to get the trails ready to go in record time.
“The volunteers have been very helpful in getting the trails in shape and working on the building, and things like that,” he said.
“You’re probably looking at 20 hours of volunteer time on the groomers and the machines to get things in order for the first ski.
“It doesn’t sound like too big a number, but if you’re out there driving that machine around, packing snow, it’s enough time to spend,” he reasoned.