Rail Trail Trestle

Having Winter Fun on the Ferry County Rail-Trail

Jen Ran

We love nature; we love working and playing outside, though it is a bit harder to do in the winter… which is why it’s wonderful when organizations like the Ferry County Rail-Trail partners put on free events like the one we attended this past weekend.

In support of Ran’s new book, Triumph Over Trauma, which was published the next day, on January 23, he wore one of his Heroic Heart Project (HHP) shirts; all profits from the book are going to three nonprofits, including HHP, which is saving the lives of veterans.

The Ferry Country Rail-Trail is a 25-mile multi-use, non-motorized rail-trail that is a signature destination in Ferry County, Washington. This past Sunday, the organization hosted the 13th annual Ski Day. A few miles of the trail are groomed for cross-country skiing, though people also bring snow shoes and even bikes with fat tires!

We could not have asked for a more perfect day. We had a bit of snow the previous evening, which made the drive spectacular. Amusingly, it was fairly foggy on our side of the mountains, but when we got over the 5,575 ft. Sherman Pass, all we saw was sun and blue sky!

We love that two organizations actively participate by bringing skis for people to try and use on the groomed trail. The City of Spokane Parks and Recreation Department brought boots, skis, and poles. Altai Skis, a company based in nearby Curlew, WA, brought its cool backcountry skis (with skins) and their latest invention, the Tiak, for steering/balance on these skis.

We debated for a few minutes about which skis to try. We decided to go with the unusual and try the Altai skis, which use a mohair “skin” (looks and feels like velvet) affixed underneath each ski, allowing the skier to tread straight up hills; unlike with traditional downhill skis, where one must “slice” one’s way up a hill in a horizontal position.

Many of you may already know this fact, but cross-country skiing is challenging and uses quite different muscles than walking. We had fun, and kind of liked the skis, though we both fell a couple of times, as the skis like to slide around — and are actually not meant for a groomed trail, but skiing the backcountry, making your own trails. We hope to try the skis again in the future; might be fun having a pair to ski around H3.

Next year, for sure, we’ll try the traditional cross-country skis!

And as our little reminder/nag to our readers… please get out and enjoy nature. It is great for both your physical and mental health.