I always like bringing you a "snow" story during a hot day. In Hamilton's downtown on Wednesday, October 7th, it was 81 degrees. But winter will arrive, and with it, the ultra-popular Chief Joseph Cross-Country Ski trails at the south end of the Bitterroot Valley on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.

As part of that winter "hot spot," the Gordon Reese Cabin is a welcoming warming shelter during the day and is a great rental facility for those who'd like to spend the night. It's about a half-mile from the Chief Joseph Pass parking area/trailhead which is along Highway 43, just east of Lost Trail Pass. It's 10 miles south of Sula and 25 miles west of Wisdom.

Volunteers are needed to keep the cabin in operation during the ski season. You can sign up to maintain the cabin on Tuesdays and Fridays and then spend the night - free. The volunteers don't have to spend the whole day at the cabin. You can get out on the 30 miles of ski trails, but you need to tend the woodstove fire, make sure snow is melting for water and keep the cabin and outhouses clean and comfortable. Other duties include meeting and greeting the public, answering questions, shoveling paths to the outhouses and the trailhead, clearing snow from the deck and entrances, and restocking firewood from the basement to the main floor.

To be a volunteer, you need to be ready to call the Wisdom Ranger District office at (406) 689-3371, starting at 8 a.m. November 2nd. That's the only phone number to use, so if it's busy, keep trying.

The Forest Service rents the cabin, too, for $10 a day. You can reserve a night at the national Forest Service reservation site or call 1-877-444-6777, again on November 2nd, starting at 8 a.m. Remember to "pack it in, pack it out" when you use the cabin. Pets are not allowed on the trails or in the cabin. Bring your own drinking water. Got questions? call the Wisdom Ranger Station at (406) 689-3243.

By the way, those cross-country ski trails are amazing. So, a tip of the hat to those who maintain them weekly - the Bitterroot Cross Country Ski Club, along with nearby Lost Trail Powder Mountain.

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