A little over a week ago, it would’ve been impossible to go cross country skiing near Missoula, mainly because there was no snow. Never underestimate Montana though. Just this past week a fresh dumping of everyone’s favorite white stuff blanketed the valley and the surrounding area. Good thing too, because it would of been a long drive to Seeley Lake (where the good snow has been) last Saturday for Missoula OEMP’s latest adventure!
The bus was packed with skis, sack lunches, 33 explorers, and a whole lot of energy as we headed to our destination for the day. For our first ski outing in two years we headed to Lubrecht Experimental Forest. As a disclaimer, this forest is not where mutant coyotes are created, as one person guessed! The forest is actually owned and managed by the University of Montana College of Forestry and is a beautiful place for some nordic skiing. 45 minutes later we arrived at the parking lot, bursting at the seams for a chance to glide across the snow. At least, that was the idea.
As the group split into three equal parties, we headed out to conquer the ski trails. The day proved to be one of the best of year, staying a toasty 18 degrees (it was -36 with windchill in Missoula last week folks) with soft snow flurries and eventual sunshine. Volunteer instructors from the University of Montana Wilderness Association and the Zootown Area Nordic Youth club taught newcomers and veterans alike the tricks of the trade. Soon the winter air was filled with shouts (and some heavy breathing) from the Outdoor Explorers!
After a few hours of nordic goodness we began to hear our stomachs growl. Back to the bus it was and then on to the Rec Hall (just one of many facilities available for rent at Lubrecht) where a warm fire, hot cocoa, and lunch awaited. With our appetites satisfied, a group headed back out into the sunshine for more skiing while the rest of us enjoyed ourselves near the Hall. As is always the case, however, the time came to head back home. With fresh snow, gorgeous weather, an energetic group, and new things to learn and discover, this Saturday was more than we could have hoped for. A great start to the year, and an exciting prelude for what’s to come!
A huge thanks to Big Brothers Big Sisters, Zootown Area Nordic Youth, University of Montana Wilderness Association, Lubrecht Experimental Forest, and Outdoor Supply and Rental for making this possible. Be sure to check our Facebook page for more pics! Keep exploring!