2014-01-02 / Sports

Event offers free skis, snowshoes

RAPID RIVER – In an effort to celebrate National Winter Trails Day, the Hiawatha National Forest, together with Brampton Bike and Ski of Gladstone, will have skis and snowshoes to use free of charge on Jan. 11 at the Rapid River National Cross Country Ski Trail. This will be the fourth year the national day has been celebrated on the Hiawatha National Forest.

The special day is designed to encourage residents to get outdoors and enjoy winter. To help everyone get started, Mike Williams of Brampton Bike and Ski will have cross country skis, boots and poles, as well as snowshoes, available free of charge for the public to use at the trail from noon until 4 p.m.

Equipment will be on hand for both adults and children, and volunteers who groom the ski trail during the winter will be available to outfit everyone with the proper gear, and to teach the fundamentals of both skiing and snowshoeing.

The event is also a great opportunity to learn more about stride techniques. There will be hot drinks and soup available, along with a bonfire.

In order to ensure adequate equipment and instructors are on hand, residents are asked to preregister for the event by calling Brampton Bike no later than 4 p.m. on Jan. 10 at (906) 428-2135.

Last year’s event drew approximately 60 newcomers to winter sports.

“There were so many different people at last year’s event, of all ages,” Williams noted. “The oldest participants were probably close to 70 years and the youngest was three years old. They all came together to ski and snowshoe together; to do things that anyone can do. Cross country skiing and snowshoeing are lifetime activities that anyone can do!”

National Winter Trails Day is one of several “Leave No Child Inside” programs offered by the Hiawatha National Forest each year. These programs are designed to unplug kids from their game systems and electronics and get them plugged in to the fun that can be found outdoors.

The Rapid River National Cross Country Ski Trail is located six miles north of Rapid River on U.S. 41 and includes five classic loops ranging from 1.2 to 10 miles in length; two skating loops of 4.7 and 7.4 miles; and a 1.3 mile snowshoe trail.

The trail system is groomed entirely by volunteers and donations are encouraged for the purchase of grooming equipment. Volunteer groomers are always needed and if anyone is interested, they are asked to call the forest service at (906) 474-6442.

For questions about this year’s National Winter Trails Day event, call the Forest Service or Brampton Bike and Ski.

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