As part of Mammoth Nordic’s pre-season trail work, Knox has removed 17 stumps. (Photo courtesy Knox)
It’s easy to get ahead of ourselves with worry about the upcoming winter season, and there are plenty of things to worry about: snowfall, visitation, legal judgments, et. al. Mammoth Nordic, however, is taking a different approach, and focusing on the core values of the community.
“Making our town a better place to live is the simplest way to make it a better place to visit,” said Mammoth Nordic Founder and President Brian Knox. “We’re putting an emphasis where it needs to be. An economic upside is just a byproduct. We have to create the killer opportunity in town and give people something to talk about.”
Knox is referring to two things. The first is the club’s continued efforts, in partnership with the US Forest Service, to maintain the Nordic public trails system. The most well known portion is the Shady Rest area, which Knox said Nordic enthusiasts could count on again this year.
When asked if he was looking into expanding the trail system, Knox simply winked, unable to give any details at this time.
“We are working on expansion, but right now it’s really about quality more than quantity,” he said. Knox has been busy preparing the area for grooming this winter. Preparations include locating tree stumps, digging down around them and leveling them off so that the Nordoni grooming machine doesn’t run them over once they are covered with snow.
The second project Mammoth Nordic is proud to kick off this winter is SnowSchool, a nationwide program through Winter Wildlands Alliance. According to Knox, Mammoth Nordic was one of the seven or so founding members of the program, and will be one of about 50 groups participating in SnowSchool around the country.
Mammoth Nordic was ready to implement the program last year, but low snow levels kept it from getting off the ground.
This year, the club is raring to go and just last week received approval from the Mammoth Unified School District Board of Education to begin to design the program, which will provide an opportunity to local first graders to get out on the snow – either on snowshoes or cross country skis. The program will introduce children to Nordic snow sports, as well as teach them about the environment and allow them to goof around and have fun on the snow.
In a letter to the MUSD School Board earlier this month, he elaborated further: “Mammoth Nordic (MN) recognizes the need to actively mint the Nordic sportsters of tomorrow by working with local kids today,” he wrote. “We aim to offer the SnowSchool experience free to all 1st graders; we provide the equipment, warm clothes if necessary and transportation when needed to assure that all local kids have the chance to participate in outdoor winter activities in a non-competitive, safe and fun environment.”
Knox will be sitting down with teachers to map out the program, which will be offered at least one day per week. Children are not required to participate, and Knox will be sending out an information kit before Christmas to gauge interest and hopefully get parents involved in the program as well.
“Our goal is to provide an awesome introduction to the wonder of the winter environment in as convenient a way possible for the District and parents of the kids who choose to participate,” Knox said.
Over the next six years, Mammoth Nordic plans to add a grade level to the program each year in a similar fashion to the way the Mammoth Dual Immersion program has developed.
Each successive year requires additional Nordic equipment in sizes appropriate for second graders, then third graders, etc. so Mammoth Nordic is continuing to fundraise and write grant applications to collect the necessary dollars for the program.
A $2,500 grant from The North Face Explore Fund received this year has been used to purchase equipment for the first graders, and an additional $3,000 from Mammoth Nordic has been used to purchase Fischer Sprint Crown Junior cross country skis, boots and poles for the Adapted Physical Education program run by Jim Tabb.
Mammoth Nordic has also invested in extra liability insurance to meet the requirements of School District policy.
In addition to getting out and getting their hands dirty on the trails and at the schools, Mammoth Nordic members will again host the Winter Wildlands Alliance annual backcountry film festival, for the second year. The festival will be held on Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Forest Service Auditorium next to the Welcome Center as well as one of the major Nordic trailheads in town. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and tickets are $10. For more information, see ad p. 31
If you’re interested in becoming a SnowSchool Coach or Chaperone, email firstname.lastname@example.org.