Winter Observation on a Nordic Ski Trail

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Distance

3 Miles

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Elevation Gain

100 Feet

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Difficulty

Moderate

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Cost Per Person

$100

Hike Overview

Every Tuesday & Thursday: Experience the beauty of the Flathead Valley in winter. The Crown of the Continent Ecosystem offers vibrant life, despite the frigid temperatures and heaps of snow. This course will dive into the adaptations that organisms in this ecosystem must possess to survive until the snow melts. This course is geared for beginner level skiers, or ones who wish to glide at an easy pace with frequent rest breaks.

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Winter Observation on a Nordic Ski Trail

Hike Overview Continued

Experience the beauty of the Flathead Valley in winter. The Crown of the Continent Ecosystem offers vibrant life, despite the frigid temperatures and heaps of snow. This course will dive into the adaptations that organisms in this ecosystem must possess to survive until the snow melts. This course is geared for beginner level skiers, or ones who wish to glide at an easy pace with frequent rest breaks.
Meeting Place: Glacier Institute main office, 320 Nucleus Avenue, Columbia Falls, MT.

Itinerary: We will meet at the Glacier Institute main office at 9 a.m. After brief introductions, we will load up into a Glacier Institute Turtle Top bus and head to the trailhead. At the trailhead, we will discuss wildlife safety and weather safety protocols. After gearing up, we will ski down the trail. Along the way, we will discuss snow science, winter ecology, and the phenomenal adaptations that plants and animals in this area possess to thrive in such conditions. We will enjoy lunch on the trail, before returning to the bus and returning to Columbia Falls by 3 p.m.

Food: Please bring a trail lunch, snacks, and plenty of water for the day.

Equipment: Cross country skis, boots, and poles are required. Most importantly are warm clothing layers (synthetic and wool materials only, cotton is NOT recommended), waterproof outer layers, comfortable winter boots, a warm winter hat, waterproof winter gloves, a trail lunch, snacks, water (we recommend at least 1-2 liters), backpack, and sunscreen. Binoculars are recommended for spotting wildlife. A small foam sit-pad can come in handy for our lunch break.

Weather: The weather in the Flathead Valley can be extremely variable in the winter. Expect cold temperatures, snow, and wind. It is always best to have extra layers than not enough.

Physical Requirements: Moderate difficulty. Although this is a beginner level skiing course, participants must be comfortable with being active while on skis for 4 hours at a time. We will travel up to 4 miles, but will take frequent breaks and stop for lunch. Participants must also be comfortable with being exposed to winter elements for hours at a time.

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What to Expect On Your Winter Observation on a Nordic Ski Trail

We will dive into the adaptations that organisms in this ecosystem must possess to survive until the snow melts. This course is geared for beginner level skiers, or ones who wish to glide at an easy pace with frequent rest breaks.

Hike Details

  • Meeting place is still to be determined.
  • The program will begin 9 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. Please arrive 15 minutes early.
  • Hiking distance covers less than 4 miles with less than 500 feet elevation change.
  • Glacier National Park Vehicle Pass is required, you can purchase a pass at recreation.gov.</>
  • On-site parking is available.
  • There is a maximum number of 13 participants per trip.
  • This program has a minimum guest count of 3 people. In the unlikely case we don’t reach that number, you will be notified prior to the event.

What to Bring

Please remember that weather in NW Montana during all seasons can change quickly from warm and sunny to freezing at any time of the year. We recommend checking the weather prior to your trip. Please also check your course information sheet for specific gear requirements in addition to those listed below.

  • 2 liter sized water bottle or Camelback
  • Trail lunch
  • Day Pack with plastic bag liner or cover
  • Heavy fleece or wool pants (or waterproof snow pants)
  • Insulated winter boots and extra wool or synthetic socks
  • Camera (optional)
  • Trekking poles, if you like to use them for hiking (optional)
  • Binoculars (optional)
  • Field Notebook notes and sketches

Download complete checklist here