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December 2011

Upcoming Events

Dec. 27   Pint Night at Sam’s Taproom benefits BRTA

Jan.  7     Moonlight Ski at the Nordic Center

Jan. 14    Learn-to-Ski Adult Clinic a.m. / Kids Lessons p.m.

‘Get Plowed’ Party at Sam’s

You are invited, and encouraged, to attend Pint Night at Sam’s Taproom on Tuesday, December 27th, 6-9pm.  Fifty cents of each pint of beer sold will be donated to BRTA.

In addition that night, BRTA is holding a GET PLOWED event, making a special request for contributions to help cover the cost of plowing the West Fork Road this winter. You know that half-mile section that got all rutted up last year where folks got stuck? Look for the snowplow donation jar. (Read our “West Fork Road Plowing” article later in this newsletter.)

So lift a glass or two and drop a dollar or three into the jar for a good cause.

January Moonlight Ski

January 7th marks the first Moonlight Ski for 2012. This event takes place at the Red Lodge Nordic Center from 6–8 pm. Custer National Forest archeologists, Mike Bergrstrom and Halcyon LaPoint, will join us at 7:00 to talk about conservation, threats (blister rust and bark beetles), restoration, and values for both low elevation Limber Pine and high elevation Whitebark Pine. Remember to bring your own food and drink along with a headlamp for this fun and informative event.

West Fork Road Plowing

BRTA will be paying for plowing of the last ½ mile of the West Fork Road to the winter gate near the Girl Scout camp. The current contractor who plows to the Silver Run turn off will continue to the gate where everyone likes to park for skiing, snowshoeing, walking on the road. (Note our Dec. 27 Pint Night is a fundraiser for this expense). And thanks to Red Lodge Mountain for initiating and advising us on this project.

BRTA will continue to groom the West Fork Road for recreationists, with assistance from Red Lodge Mountain. We plan to get out there about once a week and groom the 5 miles to Cascade Campground. (The schedule depends upon availability of equipment from the Nordic Center). Currently we have groomed about 4 miles in, and the snow up there is wonderful (over 1 ½ feet deep as of this writing).

Nordic Center Groomers

While last year’s stalwart core group of groomers never complained, when we had big snow dumps they were grooming the Nordic Center instead of catching good powder days on “the mountain” with the rest of Red Lodge.

Our search for more groomers resulted in ten brave men and women candidates, many with extensive snowmobiling experience. A trial period gives them time on the machines to know if this frozen experience and commitment is for them, and vise-versa. Mother Nature mostly determines when we groom, not us, so groomers need to have a flexible schedule, be available on most snow day mornings, have a computer and check it daily for emails from the grooming team. This larger team will spread out the work and frozen faces over more folks, giving the Nordic Center more reliable, higher quality ski trails.

Remember to check our Grooming Report at: and to wave at our hard-working groomers–there’s a real person inside all that cold weather clothing and headgear. See you out there.

RTP Grant Awarded

BRTA has received notice that we are awarded a Recreational Trails Program grant from the State of Montana for $18,000! We receive $7,900 of it in the first phase because the money originates in Federal Highway dollars and congress has only (& barely) approved this money to March, 2012. Our grant allows us to use the money for purchase of a new snowmobile for grooming (a quieter, more efficient 4-stroke model), plus Nordic Center operation expenses such as gas, oil, maintenance and repairs. The grant is spread over 18 months and is on a reimbursement basis, plus we match 20% with our volunteer labor. Thanks to Ray Svenson for researching and writing this grant for us!


Red Lodge’s first Nordic Center was started in 1984 by Glenn Schnell at RL Country Club Estates (now the Golf Course).

We have had over 250 skier sign-ins at the Nordic Center this year (beginning before Thanksgiving).

Grant’s Ski Tip

Types of Skis: There’s a mind-bending selection of skis out there. There are dozens of Alpine ski types available, but let’s consider the general category of Cross Country skis: that would include a variety of telemark skis, skate skis, classic skis for track, classic for trails, backcountry (several definitions), plus a full line of kids’ skis! You might want a softer (easy to flex) skate ski for beginners, and a stiffer, longer one for intermediate and experts. And lighter and stronger means increased cost for the advanced technology.

If you’re strictly classic skiing, you might want a lightweight, narrow ski for the tracks at the Nordic Center, and that can be no-wax or waxable. No-wax means you do not wax the kick zone because the ski comes with a gripping pattern built in for pushing forward; but it glides on the tips and tails, which you wax to improve gliding; waxable refers to the decades old art of rubbing on a wax that matches the snow conditions to get your kicks (so to speak); waxable skis are usually faster.  Every brand of XC ski has multiple models to choose from; e.g., Rossignol has 17 XC models plus 5 backcountry models plus more tele models!

Backcountry? Some of us use that term referring to skiing on trails in the mountains or foothills (touring), others are thinking about climbing big hills and skiing down them for fun and exercise. We want lightweight gear, but the more radical the conditions, the wider and burlier the ski should be, plus metal edges are needed.

So when you arrive at the ski shop, be ready to answer some questions:

  • What type of skiing do you plan to do
  • What is your skiing experience
  • How much money can you spend
  • How much do you weigh (to determine the proper length)
  • What color do you like!?

If the salesman isn’t addressing your needs or explaining things satisfactorily, find another one; do some research. This is an investment in fun!

Quote of the Month

One kind word can warm three winter months.  ~Japanese Proverb

Always consider yourself welcome at BRTA monthly Board meetings, second Wednesdays, at the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation building, (13th & Oakes, across from Post Office), 6:30 pm, or call your favorite Board member to learn what’s up with BRTA.