RED LODGE — Single digit temperatures on the day after Christmas didn't stop residents in Red Lodge from enjoying two popular winter activities: ice skating and cross country skiing.
Volunteers with Red Lodge Ice officially opened the pond ice skating rink for the season on Dec. 23, after the temperatures dropped enough to keep the rink frozen.
Mike Bergstrom recently moved to a house across the street from the rink from Florida a few months back. A big hockey fan, Bergstrom spent about an hour of his morning shoveling off a skiff of snow from the rink.
"It was a crazy workout. My back is killing me, but now I’ve kind of loosened up a bit. And we have lights, so I may come back tonight after dinner," Bergstrom said.
Bergstrom's shoveling work made way for others to get on the rink. It was Seana Borshein's first time back on ice skates in a long time.
“I haven’t been on skates since my daughter was born. She’s 28, so I didn’t want to break my face today," Borshein said with a laugh.
Keep an eye on the Red Lodge Ice website and Facebook page for dates and times of upcoming pond ice hockey matches. The rink is open to the public for free anytime hockey matches aren't scheduled and the lights shut off at 10 p.m.
Just two miles west of Red Lodge, people packed on the layers and strapped on their skis for some cross country, or Nordic, skiing at Red Lodge Nordic Center.
“It’s our first day. We just decided that finally the snow was here and we needed to get up and get going. It’s like dancing. How do I describe. It’s like dancing. You’re skating like this on them," said Sue Tarbell, a Red Lodge resident.
Tarbell was getting ready to hit the trails with her friend Colleen Harrington. Both ladies have been cross country skiing for years, and the peaceful time in nature is what keeps them coming back, Tarbell said.
“It’s really nice. It’s a real peaceful way to get through the forest. It’s very quiet. It’s really nice," Tarbell said.
Some other people had more experience on skis flying on downhill slopes, so the Nordic skiing was a change of pace. That was the story for Ian Lyman and Caitlin Pashalek, who traveled from their home in Oregon to visit family in Montana for the holidays.
“We’re on our borrowed skis from our parents. And we’re not really sure what we’re going to get into. We’re pretty much novices when it comes to cross country skiing so we’re just going to check it out. It looks nice," Lyman said.
The red lodge cross contry trails are maintained by the Beartooth Recreational Trails Association, a nonprofit that promotes non-motorized trails in the mountains around Red Lodge. There is a fee of $5 for adults to ski for the day, but kids are free. To learn more about the trail system, visit Beartooth Recreational Trails Association's website by clicking here.