Outdoor Outlook | Enjoying the Outdoors in Winter

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When freezing-cold temperatures come upon us, we have some options. Fly south, stay inside when possible or spend time enjoying the outdoors. The latter is the one I enjoy most and encourage the rest of NDSU students to pursue.

To spend time out in the tundra-like weather conditions, one just needs to find something they enjoy doing.

For those who enjoy hiking or going for walks through the woods during warmer temperatures, do not let the cold and snow stop you. Seeing the outdoors in the winter provides a different look at nature and the animals within it.

The snow makes it easier to notice individual animal tracks and try to see what kind of animal activity is occurring. Recently as I was out walking in the snow, I came across a kill site. From the small down feathers scattered about, drops of blood and imprints of larger wings, I concluded that a bird of prey had swooped down and pinned a smaller bird to the ground.

It is these types of tracks that would not have gathered my attention as easily without snow.

Getting around through fresh, deep snow, however, can be much more tiring than simply walking about on uncovered ground. When making your own trail through the woods, a pair of snow shoes can make the walk a bit easier. For those without snowshoes, walking on a snowshoe path is usually reasonable since others have packed down the snow.

Instead of breaking a new trail, a faster way to get through the woods is by cross country skiing. For the most part, cross country skiing is done on a groomed path.  NDSU Men’s Nordic Skiing Club President Brian Kaeter said there are numerous places for one to ski in Fargo and the surrounding area.

“Edgewood Golf Course, located on the North side of Fargo, is groomed for both skate skiing and classic skiing,” he said. Kaetar goes on to explain the difference between the two styles of skiing and their groomed paths.

A path for classic skiing is when there are two grooves in the snow running parallel to each other. The skier then keeps one ski in each track and alternates sliding each ski forward to propel forward.

A path for skate skiing is a smooth packed down area at least seven feet across. While skate skiing, the skier moves their legs pushing to the side, similar to how one moves on ice skates.

Skiing at Edgewood is a great place to observe animal life. Due to the packed-down path, deer are drawn to it because it makes walking easier for them. I have seen deer multiple times while at Edgewood and have been able to observe them closely.

When a deer sees a human moving on skis, they do not seem to understand what they are looking at and usually take longer to move away.

For those that would rather ski in an area made up of more woods, there are many state forests and state parks that have groomed trails in Minnesota. These can be found by looking at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website. Uses of these trails require a ski pass that can be purchased from that same website.

Besides state-maintained trails, there are also private ski trails located in the woods and close to the Fargo area.

Another NDSU skier, Cory Malchow, said his favorite privately owned ski trail system is Rainbow Resort, which is located in near Wauban, Minn.

“The trails there are very secluded in the northern Minnesota wilderness and provide great scenery,” Malchow said.

A great resource in finding cross country ski trails and whether they have been groomed recently can be found at skinnyski.com. The site posts skiers’ observations of trails and gives recommendations of trail conditions throughout the Midwest every day of the season.

Skiing, snowshoeing or walking through the woods is a great opportunity to not only stay active during the winter but to also continue to enjoy the outdoors.

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