With a Wisconsin Winter, Getting Outside Is Key

by Nick Meyer

I believe in getting outside in the winter. I think it’s one of the most authentic ways to truly experience Wisconsin, and to more fully understand what being from here means. And when winter lasts as long as it does here, getting outside is one of the best things I can do to make it work physically and mentally. There are many ways to get out, some more active and sporty (skating, skiing, snowshoeing), others a bit more casual and fun (walks, snow forts, festivals). Our calendars and activity listings here in the magazine and at VolumeOne.org can help guide the way. This winter my wife and I are learning to cross country ski – skate ski, actually. I’ve downhill skied off and on since I was a teenager, and my wife is a snowboarder, but the only cross country experience either of us had were the couple of times we borrowed classic skis from Beaver Creek Reserve. We’ve chosen the sport because last winter we put our then 4-year-old kid in what turned out to be an amazing local ski program called Kickin’ Kids. Every Monday night through January and February, dozens of kids (and their parents) gather just outside Eau Claire at the lodge at Tower Ridge to get out in the snow, breathe some fresh air, and learn to ski. It’s so cool to see all these kids – pre-school through high school – out in the woods learning to love winter. In fact, it was so inspiring that this year my wife and I found some beginner gear and are now out there each week, too, awkwardly flailing around like newborn fawns. Like I said, we chose the slightly more active “skate-skiing” style of skis, and let me tell you – it’s not easy. Getting your arms and legs and body to develop a whole new coordinated routine is tough – it’s kind of like learning to ride a bike. The first day we started right here in town at Pine Meadows Country Club. They groom a trail around the golf course you can ski on free any time. I comically toppled to the ground more times than I care to admit. But in those brief moments where for a short stretch you feel like it’s working – well, that’s the part where you get hooked. And that’s the part where you feel like you’re living the Wisconsin winter to the fullest.