Options abound for winter lovers in Eau Claire

Options+abound+for+winter+lovers+in+Eau+Claire

Story by Courtney Kueppers, Copy Editor

The holidays are over. The cookies have been devoured, presents unwrapped and decorations taken down. However, one prevalent aspect of the winter season prevails: the weather.

The snow and temperatures that make a “white Christmas” so appealing remain despite the fact that the holiday has passed, and they don’t seem to be going anywhere.

So, it’s not overly surprising that students often react by bundling up head to toe when facing the conditions to go to class and avoiding the outdoors when possible.

But there is more to winter than just shuffling from building to building in your parka and Uggs. There are a variety of ways to embrace the winter months and enjoy the outdoors this time of year.

Among the most exciting activities is an event put on by Volume One and Eau Claire Parks and Recreation: Winter after hours. With s’mores, hot chocolate, bonfires, ice skating, snowshoeing and much more, this event at Boyd park runs every Thursday, 6 to 8 p.m. through February. This an opportunity for students to have some “cheap chilly fun” as the event website advertises.

Chad Duerkop, Recreation program Supervisor of Eau Claire Parks and Rec, has helped coordinate this event for the last three winters.

“It’s a neat atmosphere, the whole park is lit up and we pipe in music,” Duerkop said.

Duerkop notes the uniqueness of the event comes from the fact that you don’t simply skate on one giant sheet of ice, but rather a meandering loop through the park, which Duerkop said, is perfect for leisurely skating.

For more information about this weekly “snow-based social” check out volumeone.org/sites/winter or head to Boyd Park this Thursday for some winter fun with friends, or as Duerkop puts it, “a great date night.”

Other great outdoor skating options include Putnam Heights Rink 1 to 7 p.m. weeknights and 1 to 6 p.m. on weekends until March 7, or Pinehurst Rink at the same times.

Another expert of winter fun in the Eau Claire area is avid cross-country skier Todd Wanous.

Wanous is the vice president of the Eau Claire Ski Striders, a local organization that supports recreational Nordic skiing while also promoting health, fitness and companionship.

For students looking to stay active during the blustery months of winter, cross-country skiing is a great option and Eau Claire is the place to do it, Wanous said. There are eight different options for places to try out this activity in the Eau Claire area.

“The best option right now is Tower Ridge Recreation Area Park,” said Wanous. “I have heard it is still skiable, but we really need snow.”

Despite not having ideal conditions this year, Scott Voermans, UWEC Cross-Country ski club president, said they are much better than last year.

Voermans said the 1K loop at Carson Park is a great and easy option for students. With ski and snowshoe rentals available at the Environmental Adventure Center, it’s an affordable way for students to get out and enjoy the snow.

The EAC has opportunities branching beyond just snowshoeing and skiing, however. Outings such as an Ice Fishing trip to “Long Walk” and Northern Lites Klondikes Kickball on snowshoes in the Towers Field have been planned for Feb. 21 and Feb. 28, respectively.

For more information on trips planned through the EAC students can contact Al Wiberg ([email protected]).

For those looking to hurl themselves down a hill on a plastic saucer or perhaps even a left over Topper’s box, there’s a plethora of options for that, too. Volume One reports the best sledding hills in the Eau Claire area at volumeone.org/listings/categories/336-sledding-hills.

On the list of the top eleven options is our very own campus hill. The website advertises it as the hill “for those feeling adventurous or maybe getting like flat out arrested.” They also report it as the most exciting and rare hill in Eau Claire.

So while it may be hard to believe, especially this week when campus feels more like a frozen tundra, the options for winter activities do branch beyond Netflix marathons with your roommates (not that there’s anything wrong with those).

But when you run out of episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” or just need some fresh air remember the outdoors are still there and they can still be enjoyed even when the ground is frozen.

Whether it’s skating, skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, or even just a good ole game of hammerschlagen, find your favorite winter activity and embrace the cold after all spring is just around the corner.