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Skiers hit trails at Soaring Eagle

Weather conditions were favorable and recent snow helped create good trail conditions as the Itascatur Outdoors Activity Club hosted the season's first open house Tuesday at Soaring Eagle Ski Trails, north of Park Rapids.

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Four-year-old Kara Berquist, of St. Louis Park, skis ahead of her grandmother, Janine Weideman during the Soaring Eagle Ski Trails open house held Tuesday. (Photos by Kevin Cederstrom/Enterprise)

Weather conditions were favorable and recent snow helped create good trail conditions as the Itascatur Outdoors Activity Club hosted the season's first open house Tuesday at Soaring Eagle Ski Trails, north of Park Rapids.

"We had a great turnout and everyone was excited to get outside after staying indoors for a couple of days during the storm," said Itascatur volunteer Janine Weideman.

There were over 30 skiers who signed the guestbook at the warming house, many from the Park Rapids area and, as Weideman pointed out, there were also skiers from Vienna, Austria; Washington, D.C. and the Twin Cities.

Jordan Theisen, a college student from Black Hills State University in South Dakota, skied the trails with mom Regina Theisen. Jordan was here on Christmas break and staying with his parents at nearby Pine Park Resort on Island Lake.

Skiers of all skill levels, from beginners to advanced, were on the trails Tuesday.

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Jessica Wirth and her family from Park Rapids skied from 1 to 4 p.m.

"It was very kid-friendly and the equipment was great to use," she said. "It was very cost-effective, family-oriented entertainment. We were first-timers and it went well."

Following the winter storm that hit the area Sunday and Monday, volunteers got to work early Tuesday to prep the trails for the open house.

"Our groomers had to scramble and did an excellent job getting the trails back in shape after the freezing rain and snow the previous two days," Weideman said. "Our wonderful volunteer hosts from Itascatur Club were Renee and Kevin Brauer and Barb Jauguet-Kalinoski.

Trail conditions are listed as good right now. Weideman reports the last few days have helped. "We can always use more snow but these are the best conditions we've had at this time of year for last couple of years, so we're happy."

Open houses

Soaring Eagle consists of 10 km of marked and groomed trails through balsam pines and spruce. All trails are groomed classical and skate and are designed for beginner to expert skiers.

An open house is scheduled each Sunday in January (starting Jan. 8) and February, weather and snow conditions permitting. The public is invited to enjoy the beautiful ski trails and have a cup of hot chocolate. Those interested can bring their own skis or check-out ski equipment at Soaring Eagle at no cost. Adult and children skis, boots and poles are available. Volunteers will be at the open houses to help people get started. A MN Ski Pass is required for skiers age 16 and over.

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Soaring Eagle Ski Trails is a popular spot for cross-country skiers. Located eight miles north of Park Rapids on Highway 71, Soaring Eagle is a Minnesota Grant-in-aid trail system maintained by the Itascatur Outdoor Activity Club. For more information, call 218-699-3870 or visit www.itascatur.org . Check the website for cancellation due to weather.

Ski equipment

In 2009, the club purchased new ski equipment (skis, boots, and poles) for adults and children. The equipment can be checked out free of charge by youth or adult groups interested in having an outdoor winter activity at Soaring Eagle. Such groups could include church groups, youth groups, Kinship, service organizations, businesses, etc.

Itascatur does not rent the ski equipment. Individuals can use the equipment during open houses scheduled throughout the winter months. Volunteer members will help people get started and answer questions about the trails.

Related Topics: PARK RAPIDS
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