Natalie's Everyday Heroes: Volunteers keep trails smooth at Lapham Peak

NOW: Natalie’s Everyday Heroes: Volunteers keep trails smooth at Lapham Peak

DELAFIELD, Wis. (CBS 58) -- It's been a challenge to find good cross-country skiing conditions this winter.

Lapham Peak has been one of the only places to go, because it can make its own snow.

What you may not know, is that all of that snow is made by volunteers.

Two men who call themselves an odd couple are combining their talents to keep the trails open.

Cross-country skiing at Lapham Peak is peaceful. Skiers glide through the woods on fresh trails.

"It looks like an ant farm out here with all the people skiing," said park ranger Jay Abts.

Thousands are drawn to the park in Delafield each winter.

"We're kind of the only snow in town," Abts added.

That's because this tranquil setting starts with some noise.

Rich Marusinec is the head snow making coordinator.

"I've been an engineer for about 40 years. Retired, oh, about 10 years ago," he said. "You need temperatures around 25 degrees or less. Hopefully lower humidity. And cooperating winds."

He oversees 30 volunteers who move seven large snow guns along the mile-plus trail.

"What I enjoy is the technical side of it," Marusinec said.

With the snow down, Keith Edelman takes over.

"Ok, parking brake off," Edelman said, pressing buttons. "Thankful to be in this sweet piece of equipment."

Everyone calls him Beetle.

"Oh, that's a long story. We'll talk another time, we'll talk about that over a beer," he said with a big laugh.

He may not tell you how he got his nickname, but he can explain how Lapham Peak grooms its trails to perfection.

"It's like tilling a garden," Edelman explained. "We're leveling it, loosening the snow." 

He's the man behind the wheel of Lapham's Pistenbully.

"It's a nice piece of equipment. Yeah, it's the Cadillacs of Cadillacs," he said.

It takes about three hours to groom the whole loop.

"We normally groom at three miles an hour," he said. "So, walking speed. Let the machine do its magic."

And when it comes to machines, Edelman would know.

"I'm a retired heavy equipment operator," he said.

"Probably one of the best crane operators and dozer operators in the state," Marusinec added.

Edelman describes their two personalities like this.

"I'll be in Florida and it'll be raining and I'll have the window open, and in his car, you don't get a drop of water -- and mine, I'm just like, I'll dry it up. I want to feel weather," he said.

Two men with different backgrounds.

"Rich and I, like I said, we're the odd couple, but we're tight. He's the head snow maker. I'm the lead groomer and we work hand in hand," Edelman said.

"And usually, he gets all the credit for having a nice trail because he really puts down a nice trail for people to ski on," Marusinec said.

They combine their different skills, creating trails for everyone to enjoy.

"But it's a sport where you can get kids out of the house, with their parents, doing something and getting some exercise," Marusinec said.

Skiers can usually enjoy the man-made snow out at Lapham Peak well into March.

Park ranger Jay Abts credits Marusinec and Edelman's hard work.

"Without the volunteers, none of this would be possible," Abts said. "They pretty much do everything. We rely on them so much."

Keeping the trails smooth and the skiers gliding along.

"When you volunteer, there's never a moment that I'm like, 'oh crap, gotta go to Lapham and groom snow again.' I signed up for it and I do it with a smile," Edelman said. "It's a community and that's what it's all about."

For more information on cross country skiing at Lapham Peak, click here

And if you'd like to nominate an Everyday Hero, send Natalie a message at [email protected].

Share this article: