ON THE TRAIL: Time to seize the snow

Parks offer skiing events, lessons

I believe in winter.

In the past week, I've skied for hours at local parks, tripping so many endorphins that, if it was a controlled substance, I'd have a long, long record.

So I believe. I just know that I have to seize winter while it's here. No delays.

'Twas the weekend before Christmas, with thin snowfall in Michiana, when I tracked down an inch more of snow in Culver -- just enough for cross-country skiing on a golf course there as long as I stayed in the shade of a tree line and out of the sun. Go to my Facebook page for a video I shot of myself skiing in Culver on Dec. 23.

How do you get started?

  • Equipment: One of my Facebook fans this week said he inherited old cross-country skis that just need new boots, bindings and poles. Another fan pointed out that Outpost Sports in Mishawaka can take care of that and install the bindings. The only other source for ski equipment locally would be the used stuff at Play It Again Sports in Elkhart. Dick's Sporting Goods can order skis but doesn't have them on stock.

    Of course, some area parks rent skis and snowshoes when conditions allow.

  • How to: There is a video on Facebook of me giving cross-country ski lessons. I made it in 2008, but people still tell me it's helpful. Do a search for the words Youtube, Dits and "how to ski."

  • Where to: Let's help each other out with ideas. Have you taken any fun snow-sport trips to places in the Midwest that most people don't know about -- for cross-country or downhill skiing, snowboarding or sledding? Or have you found a less obvious spot for that in Michiana?

    Drop me a line. I'll share it in my column.

    Swiss Valley Ski Area's slopes opened a week ago. (www.skiswissvalley.com)

For cross-country ski conditions in Michigan, go to www.nordicskiracer.com. For conditions in Wisconsin and Minnesota, go to www.skinnyski.com.

And keep an eye on my Facebook page -- heck, like it -- for tips and reports at  www.facebook.com/tribune.josephdits.

St. Pat's by candle

St. Patrick's County Park in South Bend starts up its annual Cocoa and Candlelight Ski nights from 6 to 9 p.m. this Friday, where you ski along trails lit up by luminaries and visit the historic Manion Cabin for a warm fire and hot cocoa.

Cost is $5 per person and includes one beverage. Ski rental is available for $10. The park is on Laurel Road, north of Auten Road. It also will be Jan. 25 and Feb. 8. But it all depends on snow conditions, which can be found at www.sjcparks.org, or call 574-277-4828.

Berrien County nights

Berrien County Parks offer night skiing when snow conditions allow.

Bertrand County Park in Niles has hard-wired electric lights on the trail, along with kerosene torches, until 9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Love Creek County Park in Berrien Center has solar lamps and headlamps you can loan until 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Both parks have a ski rental special of $5 starting at 5 p.m. on those nights.

Check conditions first at www.berriencounty.org/Parks or Bertrand at 269-683-8280 or Love Creek at 269-471-2617.

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