Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cross country skiing provides workout

Though not as popular as ice fishing, those who get out and do cross country skiing can get a real workout and also get in touch with nature.
Madison resident Tom Farrell has been an avid cross country skier. But it has been a few years since he and his wife, Joyce, have been out on the trail.
“Cross country skiing isn’t as popular today as it might have been 15-20 years ago,” Tom Farrell said. “Skiing is fun. However, (locally) it lacks a real champion.”
Lake Herman State Park, southwest of Madison, provides cross country skiers a connecting trail that has three different loops. All a cross country skier has to do is get to the entrance of the state park and hit each one of them.
The longest is Abbott Trail, which is 1.2 miles around the pond. The Pioneer Nature Trail is 1.1 miles and then there is a .4 mile loop. In all, cross country skiers can travel more than 2.5 miles around the state park.
“There are people out there all the time,” said Vicki Seger, District Supervisor for the Game, Fish and Parks. “I wouldn’t say in large numbers. The best place to get on is the entrance near Herman Luce Cabin.”
When the Farrells started cross country skiing in the 1970s there were not many groomed trails to travel on. The duo bought their first pair of cross country skis in 1978. At that time, the Farrells could purchase boots, poles and skis for $100. However, the wooden skis required more maintenance than those purchased today.
Tom and Joyce Farrell have spent many years teaching others about cross country skiing through different education classes. Tom Farrell provided a course at Dakota State University, while Joyce Farrell showed students in the Madison School District how to move on skis. In addition, the two were also part of an adult community education cross country skiing class that ended with a moonlight ski at Lake Herman State Park.
Tom Farrell said skiing is a good physical activity. “More importantly it is an opportunity to get out in nature,” he said. “Out in the state park it was not uncommon to see pheasants and deer. Also, exciting to us from a teacher perspective, is that just about any one could learn in a short period of time and be successful.”
He considers the trails at Lake Herman State Park as beginning-level trails. “I would rate them as being very easy to ski,” he said. “They do a wonderful job of maintaining the trails. The wonderful thing about the state park being open and maintained year around, you can pick the area you want to go to.”
Seger said cross country skiers are on the trails regularly and are pretty faithful to cross country skiing.
“We have worked very hard to keep the park open so people can get to the trails,” Seger said. “You don’t see a lot of people doing it. Those who do it are dedicated to cross country skiing.”
During the summer, walkers can be seen all throughout the park. However, walking the park and cross country skiing are two different things.
“It takes a lot to cross country ski,” Seger said.
There are still people who do walk, but Seger said if they want to walk they need to walk off to the side. In addition, to enter Lake Herman State Park, cross country skiers need either an annual pass or a day pass during the winter season.

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