Cross Country Skiing By Candlelight

Written by Guest Blogger
    Monday, 23 February 2015
Cross Country Skiing By Candlelight

Here at the Urban Ecology Center, we love to celebrate different events, activities and programs offered throughout the year. To celebrate winter, we hosted several great outdoor programs, including excursions to Lapham Peak for cross country skiiing by candlelight. Not only were we excited about this program, but the attendees seemed to have a blast as well. One attendee, Dan, is a contributing member here at the Center who recently wrote a guest blog that reflects on his experience at this program. Read on to hear why Dan enjoyed this program due to its built-in sense of camaraderie.

This blog post was written by Dan Matthews, who is an outdoor enthusiast and recent attendee of the Urban Ecology Center's Cross Country Ski at Lapham Peak.

About halfway down the hill, I remembered that trying to slow down with classic nordic skis in icy conditions is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine. So began the most epic of my many falls that night. Our fearless leader, Sam, who is a Community Program staff member at the Urban Ecology Center, soon carted us over to the bonfire to enjoy free hot chocolate, cookies, and popcorn. Despite my bruised ego (and body), I had an absolute blast, though I wouldn't recommend using trees for brakes, as I did.

This was my second trip with the Urban Ecology Center to Lapham Peak for a candlelight ski adventure. On my first trip earlier this winter, I found myself having discussions with other participants varying from public health issues in Milwaukee to the experience of being a foreign exchange student in the United States; other times, I simply got lost in the peacefulness of gliding along in the cold, clear night, oblivious to my day-to-day worries. This dichotomy really shows what the Center means to me: both an eclectic meeting ground for Milwaukeeans of all ages and backgrounds, and a peaceful oasis in the middle of our hectic existences to enjoy some quiet time and oneness with nature. There are days at the Center when you can feel the excitement as kids see their first reptiles or learn how to snowshoe; there are days when you can just have some tea and relax with a book. I've enjoyed both types of days at the Center, and treasure them all.

candlelight ski lapham 2015 Sam Huenink edit
The ski trails at Lapham Peak. Photo: Sam Huenink

Given how much I love to cross country ski these days, it's crazy to think that I didn't even know how to cross country ski last year. Thanks to an afternoon "beginner's class" for adults at the Center last February, I've been able to salvage some shred of dignity on these cross country ski trips to Lapham Peak and around our Milwaukee trails. I'll never forget our instructor's analogy of "walking like a gorilla" to perfect our weight transfer. As evidenced above, I haven't quite translated it to icy hills yet, but I'm well on my way. Borrowing great outdoor equipment through the equipment lending benefit as an Urban Ecology Center contributing member doesn't hurt my wallet, that's for sure.

As someone who relies on a bike and the bus to get around, having reasonably priced excursions and free access to outdoor equipment is incredible. I would never get out to places like Lapham Peak on my own; even if I rented a car, I've never had a Wisconsin parks permit or the gumption to organize a trip. To all those with the spirit of adventure and the need to escape winter cabin fever, the Urban Ecology Center has the programs to make winter fun. Sometimes all it takes is a trip out to the woods to realize how good we have it here in Milwaukee.

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