By HANS MADSEN
Karen Hansen, Webster County Conservation naturalist, uttered one word Friday evening as crosscountry skiers and snowshoers left the Visitors Center in John F. Kennedy Memorial Park for snow-covered trails: “Finally.”
It’s been a while since area residents have been able to enjoy recreation in the snow. About a dozen participants took advantage of the dusk-to-dark session hosted by Webster County Conservation.
One of them, Betsy Richardson, 9, of Fort Dodge, was on skis for the first time.
How did she manage?
“I did pretty good except for all the times I fell,” she said.
While she remained uninjured, falling down did present another problem. She said it was sometimes difficult to get back up. Of course, she kept an estimated tally of the number of times she went down.
“I’d say about 30 to 35,” Richardson said.
Still, Richardson is eager to go again – with one small change.
“I would like it more if it was in the daytime so I could see where I was going,” she said.
One option available to the night ski participants was checking out a headband-mounted light.
Aidan Recker, 5, of Fort Dodge, kept his on for the duration of the experience, and he could see.
“With my headlamp,” he said.
Recker would like to go again, too, even though he did – “sometimes” – fall down.
Victor Shenton and his friend Megan Ridgely, both of Fort Dodge, were going to hit the trail together. They’ve both been downhill skiing before.
Ridgely proudly displayed a piece of wardrobe she wore for the occasion: special socks.
“They’re actually ski socks,” she said.
Shenton said he was looking for a way to experience the trails in winter. Ridgely was looking forward to the adventure as well.
Shenton has spent some time in the park before.
“I have a pair of hockey skates,” he said. “I’ve been skating on the lake.”
John Eveland, of Fort Dodge, had checked out a pair of snowshoes. It was something he had wanted to try for a years, he said, and, of course, made an epic trek of it.
“We walked for at least a hundred miles,” he joked afterwards.
The sport met with his approval.
“We’ll rent some and try it again,” he said.
According to Hansen, crosscountry skiing and snowshoeing are excellent forms of aerobic exercise.
“You don’t notice you’re exercising,” she said.
In addition, it gets people outdoors where they can enjoy nature at its quietest.
Going out at night offers another bit of something extra.
“There’s always some intrigue and mystery about hikes at twilight or dark,” Hansen said.