PHOTOS: Outdoor enthusiasts turn out for event by the light of a full moon in Wellston

Photo of Arielle Breen

WELLSTON — Temperatures below 9 degrees may have made fat tire cyclists and cross-country skiers hesitant to go on longer excursions on Saturday evening at the Big M trailhead — but it didn’t stop the participants from attending a winter moonlight event and getting in a short ride. 

About 15 people turned out for a joint venture and tradition of moonlight winter sports at Big M, crunching up the paper lantern lit pathways to a warm fire and chat with fellow outdoor enthusiasts near Wellston. 

Some had taken advantage of the rare sunny skies during the day on Saturday and then decided to stay closer to the fire under the full moon in the evening while others braved the frigid weather to get in a quick ride throughout Big M's trail system. 

About 15 people turned out for the moonlight winter sports at Big M, crunching up the paper lantern lit pathways to a warm fire and chat with fellow outdoor enthusiasts near Wellston on Saturday night.

About 15 people turned out for the moonlight winter sports at Big M, crunching up the paper lantern lit pathways to a warm fire and chat with fellow outdoor enthusiasts near Wellston on Saturday night.

Arielle Breen/News Advocate

Erin Secord, Shoreline Cycling Club treasurer, said the club teamed up with the Manistee Ski Council to host the traditional event. 

“The ski club has been doing this for a very long time,” Secord said. 

Ken Blakey-Shell, president of the ski council, said the winter moonlight events have been going on for more than a decade.

“It’s just a tradition. It’s just like the moonlight skis, it’s something special to do out here,” he said. 

Secord said if one looks into the woods while out at Big M on a night like Saturday, “ with all the snow it really lights everything up in a unique way.”

Blakey-Shell said there was a group of people who used to lead the winter moonlight events. 

“And they were getting a little bit older and kind of wanted to hand it off so they asked the cycling club to help out and we were like ‘Sure! This would be a lot of fun to go hang out (and do that,)’” Blakey-Shell said. “The cycling club has been the driver in the last couple years on (the events) but still definitely a joint venture.”

Blakey-Shell said many of the people who are generally interested in fat tire biking are also interested in skiing. 

“There’s total cross-pollination. There’s a lot of people in both groups,” he said. “A year ago, I was the president of both, so we really do both so a lot of collaboration that way.”

People could be seen riding fat tire bikes on the snowy trails or cross-country skiing on Saturday evening, with one family that even had children’s fat tire bikes lit up with colorful lights. 

“It doesn’t make a difference what you’re doing activity-wise, it’s just a good time to be out here,” said Blakey-Shell.

Wayne Stroope and Sue Stroope take off for a fat tire bike run through Big M's trail system on Saturday during a moonlight winter sporting gathering. 

Wayne Stroope and Sue Stroope take off for a fat tire bike run through Big M's trail system on Saturday during a moonlight winter sporting gathering. 

Arielle Breen/News Advocate

The next moonlight bike and ski event is scheduled for Feb. 12. Skiers and cyclists are asked to bring their own gear and can head out independently on the trails, or hang out in the lodge or by the bonfire. The trails are not lighted, so a headlamp is advisable if it is cloudy.

The events are free and open to the public, with no reservation required. There is a $5 vehicle day pass fee to the U.S. Forest Service at the Big M trailhead.

More information on the Shoreline Cycling Club can be found online at shorelinecyclingclub.org. More information on the Manistee Ski Council and trail condition reports can be found online at skimanistee.org.