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Organizations team up to offer family cross-country skiing adventures near Mancos

In February, local organizations will be hosting cross-country ski “festivals” at Chicken Creek Nordic. (Journal file photo)
Events will take place on Feb. 2 and 9

On Feb. 2 and 9 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., local organizations have teamed up to offer a “cross-country skiing festival and snowy fun at Chicken Creek” for children age 8 and up and their parents, if their parents would like to attend.

The event is free, and transportation and ski gear are provided.

Mancos district social worker and Wild Fridays coordinator Mike Higgs, San Juan Mountain Association education director Adriana Stimax and Chicken Creek Nordic’s Melissa Gould collaborated to sponsor the event.

“The hope is to get people excited about cross-country skiing,” Higgs told The Journal. “We’re calling it a festival. We’re going to celebrate the fact that we can have this cool thing in our backyard, and then we want to encourage people that maybe haven’t tried it before.”

Like Higgs, Stimax noted that all who wish to participate are welcome, whether they are an advanced skier or a beginner.

“Everybody is welcome,” Stimax said. “We have a lot of levels. Anybody who has a lot of experience to people who have no experience. We’re excited for the community to be able to come out and join us. We want to make sure there are no barriers to joining.”

Gould shared that the terrain at Chicken Creek is good for all levels.

“The terrain is pretty appropriate for both beginning and advanced skiers,” she said.

On Friday, Feb. 9 and Friday, Feb. 23, the groups will drive to Chicken Creek before beginning a fun day of skiing and learning about the work that goes into running Chicken Creek.

Higgs said that the first 11 to sign up will be able to ride in the Wild Fridays van, meeting at the Mancos School District flagpole and driving to Chicken Creek from there.

For the others, 15-passenger vans will be available to transport attendees, even picking up individuals in Cortez and Dolores if needed, according to Stimax.

At the “festival,” the day will revolve mainly around cross-country skiing, allowing newcomers to learn the sport and how to properly prepare for a day outside in the snow. Higgs noted that a list of recommended warm-weather clothes and supplies is on the registration site.

“We want to connect the student and parent dynamic in conjunction to the community. That’s what we’re pushing for,” Higgs said.

Along with skiing, the group will learn what it takes to keep Chicken Creek Nordic up and running.

Gould said she will show attendees how they prepare the trails for skiing after snowfall, the equipment used to take care of the location and more.

But more than anything, Gould, who has been with Chicken Creek Nordic since its conception, said she hopes people have fun in the snow.

“I hope that kids will come and those who have little or no experience will be introduced to a new activity that brings them pleasure and is fun, and I hope that they learn about some of the basic skills that you can refine to become an adequate skier or good skier, and I hope for the older kids, that they have a chance to really use their strength and capacity to enjoy a sport that is a lifelong sport and that really gets you outside in the wintertime,” Gould said. “I think winter is a wonderful season, and there's so many different ways to enjoy it. This is just one of them, and we have a fabulous resource. I hope that kids learn how fun it is to be in the snow.”

Gould also shared that Chicken Creek had been born from “a group of people who saw the potential for having lovely cross-country skiing in the area so people didn’t have to go to Telluride or Durango to find it.”

According to Stimax, working on the event with the others was “like a snowball effect.”

Higgs had been hoping to have a cross-country event for Wild Fridays, but didn’t have the gear to provide to those who would participate. Former Mancos school board member Katie Cahill-Volpe introduced Higgs to Stimax, who could provide the gear through the San Juan Mountain Association and Gould, who helps run Chicken Creek, which got the snowball rolling.

“I’m blown away,” Higgs said. “I’ve been here for about eight years and I’m just learning about all the resources we have in our area.”

Stimax shared that it was encouraging to see organizations in Montezuma County working together to host an event like this one.

“It’s exciting that we’re collaborating on this,” Stimax said. “Organizations in the area can be kind of siloed, so it’s nice to have all of us working together to accomplish this.”

Other collaborators include Mancos Gear Share, School Community Youth Collaborative, Mancos School District, Montezuma Inspire Coalition and Durango Nordic Center.

Those who are interested in participating from Mancos, Dolores or Cortez can register at the event’s website at https://bit.ly/WildFriday1.

Those with questions can contact Higgs at mhiggs@mancosre6.edu.