One of the blessings of the four seasons in North Dakota is the diversity of outdoor recreation.
One will often hear there is no such thing as too cold but poor clothing. This is particularly true with walking and running the trails that are kept open year-round. Dress in layers. Wear a sweat absorbing layer next to skin, something warm in the middle and a wind resistant coat on the outside.
On sub-zero days, protect exposed skin with a face mask. Wear mittens, under-gear and insulated socks and you are ready for serious miles.
Birding is interesting year-round and juncos and cedar waxwings have replaced chipping sparrows and robins. Trees are beautiful in dormant form as their branching design becomes fully exposed. Some trees hold their leaves all winter in persistent fashion.
The Rosemeade Chalet is our winter recreation headquarters and is open 4-8 p.m. on week days and 1-8 PM on weekends, holidays and school break.
Ice skates can be rented for skating on the pond or hockey rink. It has been wonderful to see all the pond hockey players like winter scenes of past years. Park staff and BW Blades Hockey volunteers put a white cover on the multipurpose court that should provide better skating conditions during our ever-changing temperatures.
Cross-country ski trails follow the outside contour of the Wahpeton side of the Bois de Sioux Golf Course. On the Minnesota side, the trails follow the river and wooded prairie wetland. Skis can be rented at the Chalet. If you can walk, you can cross country ski. It is enchanting to glide and ski on a brisk winter day.
Slide, toboggan and snow board down the sledding hill. Bumps were created years ago towards the northeast to add thrills. Many use the hills created by the flood-protective levee or overpass ditches safely down a country road.
Snowshoes can also be rented at the Chalet and allow you to traverse deep snow. One just has to walk a little bow-legged and webbed feet give you the ability to defy nature.
Northerners can also proclaim spiritual power by our ability to walk on water even if it is on a frozen lake or river. Ice fishing equipment is available for catching walleyes, northern pike, crappies and sunfish on local waters. It will always be a thrill to enjoy the simplicity of ice fishing and seeing a tiny bobber disappear in the depths.
Spear fishing is becoming more popular and it is like hunting for northern pike. Watching the underwater world is fascinating,
Many of these activities are snow dependant and add to that list snowmobiling. When there are adequate snow conditions, the local snowmobile club grooms trails. For city residents, they need to follow the shortest route out-of-town to access the trails. Some got an early start on the Bois de Sioux River.
Predator hunting is a fun outdoor sport that matches wits with critters like red fox and coyotes. This writer fondly remembers childhood days on the Abercrombie area farm when fox would be called in by a distressed jackrabbit call. It is a thrill to fool a cunning red fox and $90 fur pelt prices were a bonus.
Fat tire biking is another fun physical activity. The extra tire tread provides better traction over snow-packed city streets and when they are dry the rubber tires sound like a semi trucking down the highway.
Snow men and other snow sculptures are often created by fun-loving, active families. After snow storms, Mother Nature creates unique designs and on foggy mornings hoar frosted trees are opportunities for outdoor photographs that capture Upper Midwest beauty.
Chahinkapa Zoo can be opened by special appointment and the thick coats of elk, bison, otters and bobcats actually are best viewed this time of year.
If the northwest blustery winds are howling, it is a good time to read a book. But don’t hunker down all winter. There is way too much fun out on our Dakota-Minnesota landscape.
Wayne Beyer is the director of Wahpeton Parks and Rec.