Warm night of fun

Tina Kastendieck, of Fort Dodge, encountered a minor problem Friday evening when she went cross country skiing with her family during a Twilight Skiing event hosted by Webster County Conservation at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park: The temperature.

“We overdressed,” she said. “It was too warm.”

She hit the trail with her son, Jared Kastendieck, 12, and husband, John Kastendieck. He came along to pull the sled where their granddaughter, Avery Ridgely, 4, of Johnston, got to ride.

They enjoyed the experience, particularly being able to ski in the dark with provided head lamps.

It was Jared Kastendieck’s first time on skis, but he caught on quickly.

“After the third fall,” his father joked.

Kastendieck had a question for his son after the trek through the park: “Was this better than playing your game at home?”

His son smiled.

“Yeah,” he said.

Karen Hansen, Webster County Conservation naturalist, was on hand to give instructions, check out gear and get everyone going down the trail safely.

She said the sport offers many physical and emotional benefits.

“It’s a great aerobic workout in the fresh air,” she said. “Lots of relaxation in the outdoors.”

Skiing at night also offers the additional benefit of being able to see the clear night sky and maybe even meeting some of the animals that are active at night, such as owls and raccoons.

Because traveling by cross country skis is so quiet, it’s actually possible to sneak up on the creatures if the skier is careful.

Hansen said many people who first tried the sport during one of Webster County Conservation’s programs later became devotees of the sport.

“It’s great to be able to try before you buy,” she said.

On weekends when there isn’t a public skiing event, the skis and snowshoes can be rented for the weekend. They can be picked up on Friday before 4 p.m. and they are due back before 4 p.m. on Monday. The cost is $10 for adults. Children’s equipment is lent for free.

Hansen encourages families to participate.

“We believe it’s a great family outing that gets everybody outside,” she said.

While the youngest member of the group didn’t ski Friday night, she did find a treasure along the trail.

“I found a golf ball,” Avery Ridgely said. “It’s green and white.”

An additional cross country skiing event is scheduled for today from 1 to 5 p.m. While the recent high temperatures have melted much of the snow cover, Hansen said she will still go ahead with the day. In addition, a Moonlight Hike is scheduled at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park at 5:30 p.m. today.