As the last of the leaves fall from the trees in my yard and there has consistently been a thin layer of frost on my windshield every morning this week, I am reminded that winter is just around the corner.
Since this time of year can be challenging for many outdoor enthusiasts, I thought I’d try to brighten up your weekend by offering a list of activities you have to look forward to once the snow flies.
• The first of the year brings the opportunity to participate in annual First Day Hikes at both Ft. Phil Kearny and Trail End State Historic Site. This annual tradition is a great way to get your blood pumping again if you happen to participate in the annual Lake De Smet Polar Bear Plunge on New Year’s Day.
• The WYO Winter Rodeo promises to return in full force in 2022. Mark your calendar for the weekend of Feb. 19 and get ready for skijoring, fat bike races and general community merriment.
• The Sibley and Cutler Hill ski trail systems are havens for snowshoers, Nordic skiers and fat bike riders alike. Be sure to pay attention to the Black Mountain Nordic Club Facebook page for its moonlight ski events, annual chili feed and end-of-season dog fest. While you’re not distracted by the going out and doing, now would be a great time to renew (or start) your BMNC membership and help keep this all-volunteer organization going strong.
• If you’re wanting to take up a new winter activity, 2022 is your year. Sheridan College is offering cross-country ski and snowshoe classes at the beginning of the spring semester; gear and transportation are included. See sheridan.edu or call 307-675-0505 to sign up.
• For teens, Sheridan Junior High School’s Nordic ski team will kick off its third year on Jan. 3, and Sheridan High School students can get in on the fun this year by joining the cross-country ski club. Call Rebecca Mitchell at SJHS for further information.
• Antelope Butte will open in December, so now is the time to get your season passes or punch passes at antelopebuttefoundation.org. If you have a budding skier at home, the ABF/YMCA First Chair and Second Chari youth programs are second to none.
• Tongue River Valley Community Center also offers youth ski and snowboard programs and trips during the snowy months. See trvcc.org for further information.
• For those of us not in the “youth” age range, The Hub on Smith offers numerous cross-country ski and snowshoe outings throughout the winter. Keep your eye on their newsletter or thehubsheridan.org and sign up early because the spots fill fast.
• Bomber Mountain Cycling Club and Sheridan Bicycle Company host fat bike events and organize group rides to keep local cyclists going. Visit Jordan and the gang at 43 S. Main Street. They are easy to find online as well.
• The Sheridan Community Land Trust plans to host an avalanche awareness course, which I highly recommend for all winter adventurers. The SCLT newsletter, Facebook page and sheridanclt.org will have information once it is available. And, the various land trust and city trail systems are always right out our back doors ready to be hiked, run, biked, snowshoed and skied.
This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, but I hope it gets your enthusiasm up and your endorphins going. If you’re struggling with the lack of daylight hours, the chili but not cold temperatures and the lull in outdoor community activities, just remember that there is a lot to look forward to in the months ahead.
The fluffy white stuff is on its way and guarantees to bring fun for Sheridan County recreationalists of all ages.