Grand Nordic: Nordic ski season has finally started

Diana Lynn Rau
Grand Nordic Corner
Cross country skiers enjoy fresh snow on the trails at Grand Lake Nordic Center in this newspaper file photo. Nordic skiing is starting to open in Grand County.
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi News | Sky-Hi News

Nature finally comes to the rescue for Thanksgiving — or at least somewhat.

Snow varies in East Grand from 4-7 inches and more in some places. It is enough to slide on, I just hope you have your rock skies ready to go. Rock skis are specifically for conditions when there is not really enough snow to cover the trails or open areas.

Sometimes we have enough snow in October and sometimes, like this year, it is almost Thanksgiving until we get sufficient snow to pack. Grass or fine sand does not usually hurt the ski bottoms, but small rocks or other sharp objects leave gouges in the bottoms or can pull off metal edges. You don’t want to be on your best equipment for sure.

Nordic areas report that many trails are being rolled now to pack a base. This base is generally not deep enough yet to set tracks for classic skiing. Both Snow Mountain Ranch and Devil’s Thumb Ranch were trying to roll enough trails to open by today, but there may only be a few loops available. Areas in shade should still have enough snow from the previous storm but look for north-facing, shaded areas to get your best possible conditions. With the favorable weather of the days since the East Troublesome fire, Grand Lake Rec District has been able to clean up much of the fire damage on the front nine trails and some of their trails in the trees, and is hoping to open for Nordic skiing by mid-December.

Between our Nordic resorts and hundreds of acres of back country available to Nordic skiers, the outdoor space available for Nordic skiing make it one of the safest outdoor activities we can enjoy this winter. You can ski or snowshoe in your backyard or on the trails between towns or just homes in your development.

People can spread out and rarely even see other skiers unless they want to. Masks can be comfortable in the cold. The whole family can be together and be safe. Bring along a picnic lunch if you want. Just remember to go into the backcountry with other experienced people, let someone know where you are going, and be prepared with the 10 essentials. Lessons and classes for both backcountry skiing and classic or skate skiing are available — ask at the resort of your choice. Most classes will be smaller this year as well.

Grand Nordic knows many people are cleaning out their closets or upgrading Nordic gear this time of year. Please, drop off Nordic skis in any condition of every length and variety in one of our donation drop boxes at the Granby Library or Fraser Library. We also accept ski poles, bindings, boots and snowshoes. No clothing please.

We will distribute this used equipment to people in need, like those who lost everything in the East Troublesome Fire. We also help the Middle Park High School Nordic team and coaches have a pair of rock skis for early season conditions so they don’t have to practice in marginal snow using their good racing gear. Save the good stuff for the races in January.

Kids gear is distributed to the elementary school programs and preschool programs. We take gear to all the preschools so all our Grand County kids can have the opportunity to learn Nordic skiing even as a toddler.

We even teach the teachers how to help the kids as well as help them have fun. Being outside in the snow should always be fun but sometimes you have to learn how, what games to know and what extra gear to have along to keep everyone happy.

Hope to see you, from a distance of course, out on the trails. Go to a Nordic resort, good Nordic shop or Winter Park Trading Company and pick up some new or used gear for what you consider a fair price, take a lesson and learn a few good pointers that make it so much easier, and get outside. Watch out for animals on the trails that have fled from the fires. Stay safe to be around for another year.

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