Laramie’s Nordic ski community is waiting with bated breath for enough snow to lay tracks on area trails, signaling the start of the ski season.
In the meantime, Laramie’s Basecamp, 222 S. Second St., is planning to celebrate the changing seasons with a new event called Winterfest, which is set to begin Thursday.
“It’s three days of all ski-centered events,” said Morgan Schindele, Basecamp’s events coordinator.
The weekend is scheduled to open with a screening of the ski film “Fade to Winter” at 7 p.m. Thursday at the store, complete with popcorn and drinks.
At 10 a.m. Friday, owner Rebecca Walsh will give a talk about surviving winter in Laramie with young children. The talk will include trail-tested tips and tricks for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and being outside in the winter with babies, toddlers and young children. She’ll cover ways to keep kids warm and places she likes to go during the winter. Kids are welcome to attend the presentation.
At 7 p.m. Friday, Basecamp staff will lead a workshop about things people should know before they head outside in the cold. Aimed at those who are new to Laramie or new to cold weather, the talk will cover topics such as how to dress for skiing and snowshoeing and how to plan winter trips.
Events on Dec. 1 are scheduled to begin with free ski demos from 9-10 a.m., followed by ski clinics from 10 a.m.-noon covering the skate and classic disciplines. At noon, there will be a ski lesson for kids, followed by a race and obstacle course. Those events will take place at the Tie City Trailhead, which is located on the Pole Mountain Unit of the Medicine Bow National Forest.
From 7-9 p.m. Saturday, there will be snacks, games and giveaways at the store.
“It’ll be a fun night to close out our Winterfest,” Schindele said.
All events are free, including ski demos for those who want to join in on the clinics.
Schindele said the aim of the event is to help people try a new sport and be able to enjoy being outside in the winter.
“We want people to feel comfortable and know what they need to get outside,” she said.
Basecamp plans to continue leading free ski clinics at noon every Saturday at Depot Park for all ages, conditions permitting. Little Laramie Hikers, a hiking group for parents with young children, also plans to offer ski lessons for kids once a month. Skiers should plan to provide their own equipment for those clinics.
Laramie sits just a few miles from the Medicine Bow National Forest, where the Medicine Bow Nordic Association grooms a dozen or so miles of trails for Nordic skiing, starting from the Tie City Trailhead.
The Pole Mountain winter trail system also includes multi-use trails that are maintained for fat biking and snow shoeing.
“We’re in a really cool area where we have a lot of access to cross-country ski trails, and groomed land, which is really exciting, and not something that’s as accessible in a lot of other areas,” Schindele said.
The first steps in preparing the trails for skiing at Pole Mountain have already begun, and skiers are getting ready to hit the trails soon.
“There’s a culture of being excited about snow and being excited about getting outside, and cross-country skiing is really accessible,” Schindele said. “It’s easy, and it’s right here.”