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SHERIDAN — Sometimes you just need a quick fix.
That is what got Sheridan resident Hermes Lynn — a science teacher at Tongue River High School — started on a project that he hopes will help others who have the itch — to ski, that is.
A week ago, Lynn began grooming a cross-country ski trail at South Park, a 40-acre parcel that lies along Little Goose Creek between Sheltered Acres Park to the north and Brundage Lane to the south. It is a 1-mile loop that begins at the parking lot near Brundage Lane and winds through the meadow west of the walking path.
“The big reason I wanted to do it was to get more people into cross-country skiing around here and have something close by for a quick fix,” Lynn said. “Going up to Sibley is nice, but it is a drive. I wanted to get something going in town.”
Lynn moved to the Sheridan area approximately two years ago and began volunteering as a groomer with the Black Mountain Nordic Club last year. He skate skis, which is a faster form of skiing than traditional nordic that involves skating motions similar to ice hockey. He said skate skiing requires groomed trails.
At this point, Lynn is using his own snowmobile and an old grooming skid and working solo, donating several hours per week to groom the trail. The project is not currently a Black Mountain Nordic Club project.
Lynn began discussing his idea with Chuck Carbert, parks director for the city of Sheridan, who suggested South Park as an option for the trail. Originally, Lynn had thought Kendrick Golf Course would be a good location. However, South Park stays colder and holds snow a little longer than the golf course, which gets more sun and wind, Lynn said.
When he grooms, Lynn does three to four passes on the loop, which takes a couple hours. He has a track setter, as well, but won’t likely use it this year because the grass beneath the snow is too long and will poke through the tracks. He and Carbert are already discussing ways to make the trail better next year, which will include mowing the grass in the area before winter snows arrive.
While the trails at Sibley Lake and Cutler Hill on Highway 14 offer a much more expansive option for cross-country skiing, Lynn hopes having a trail within town limits will boost local interest in the sport, which can burn 450-700 calories per hour, according to an article on mayoclinic.com.
Depending on snowpack and temperature levels, Lynn hopes the trail will be usable through February. It does cross a few marshy areas that freeze in the winter, so it will be important to keep an eye out for melting. It is open to snowshoers, as well.
“It’s just nice having a trail that close in town,” Lynn said. “It’s a pretty spot, too.”