Winter is most definitely back

AREA – This past weekend, area residents were able to take part in a couple of snow-related events put on by the Shetek Environmental Center – a moonlight snowshoe hike in Garvin Park and cross-country skiing around the grounds of Shetek Lutheran Ministries.

That wasn’t the case last year, mainly because of the sparse amount of snow the area received. Vicki Doeden of the Environmental Learning Center said she had to cancel all of her snow events last year.

“I hope this sticks around, I was just thrilled,” Doeden said Sunday at the cross-country skiing event.

Doeden said the learning center has activities nine months out of the year, except she does put on a few in the winter.

“I wish I could’ve scheduled more,” she said.

The lack of snow also affected snowmobilers, as they had to head elsewhere to ride.

“We do a lot of snowmobiling in Cook City, Montana,” said Amanda Pesek of Porter, who is the secretary of the Southwest Ridgerunners Snowmobile Club. Her husband, Todd, is vice president of the club.

Tyler Vandendriessche, a young snowmobiler from Garvin, said the little snow that fell last season just froze.

“And got really hard,” he said. “We never got to go in the ditch.”

The snowfall so far this year has been great, Pesek and Vandendriessche said.

“It’s great to get out, the trails are groomed,” Pesek said.

“It’s a lot more snow,” added Bo Holland, another young snowmobiler from Garvin.

Those taking in the cross-country skiing on Sunday by Shetek Lutheran Ministries included Shannon Brewers of Taunton. She was preparing herself for a cross-country skiing trip she’s taking to the Boundary Waters in a few weeks.

“I’m more of a summertime outdoors person,” Brewers said. “(But) I want to get some practice in. This is a crash course before I leave.”

Mary Ellen Busiahn of Wood Lake, along with her daughters, Lydia and Julia, Julia’s friend, Colin Bailey of Redwood Falls and family friends, Scott and Nikki Warner of Redwood Falls, were also part of Sunday’s cross-country ski excursion. Mary Ellen Busiahn said she appreciated last year’s mild winter.

“I thought it was great, I’m a rural (mail) carrier,” Mary Ellen Busiahn said.

Nikki Warner said she was fine with last winter’s warmer conditions.

“I do like ice fishing, but not that cold usually,” she said.

“It (the snow) doesn’t really bother me too much,” said Lydia Busiahn.

It was a first time on cross country skis for several members of the group.

“It’s nice to take the opportunity to do this kind of thing,” Mary Ellen Busiahn said.

With the snowcover, Holland and Vandendriessche said they’ve had plenty of opportunities to go snowmobiling. Vandendriessche said he’s ridden between Balaton and Marshall where there’s more snow, as well as Garvin Park.

Pesek said snowmobilers are probably one of the few groups that actually likes the snow.

And now that there is more snow this year, the Ridgerunners can plan for more events, like a fun run coming up on Jan. 12 that ends in Ghent.

“There was never enough snow” for events, she said.

Earlier this week, Doug Robbins of Marshall, along with his extended family, enjoyed some time on the sledding hill at Independence Park.

“I like the cold,” he said. Robbins said he goes ice fishing during the winter and has been out three to four times so far this year.

One of Robbins’ grandsons, Austin Portner of Sioux Falls, S.D., said he liked that there was more snow this year.

“It’s a lot better now,” he said. Plus, it’s more fun than sitting inside doing nothing, he added.

And even though she’s originally from California, Doeden said she appreciates the winter season.

“That’s what’s spectacular about the Midwest, the snow,” Doeden said.