Winter's chill is time for skiing and skating.
Ferguson Ridge Ski Area (called "Fergi"), nine miles east of downtown Joseph, has six groomed runs and two paths for the cross-country goers. Difficulties range from beginner to expert. From the base of the hill, a T-bar lift takes skiers and snowboarders up to elevations as high as 640 feet. The rope-tow goes up a shorter hill.
Lift tickets, good all day, cost $15 for adults and $10 for youngsters under 16 years old. There are also extended passes: adults get 10 days for $100 (20 days at $150), youngsters $75 (20 days, $110).
Nearby the lift's take-off, a repair shop also rents equipment - everything from skis and snowboards to boots and poles to jackets and pants. Next door is a café, offering lunch and a warm lounge.
Fergi is in operation weekends and holidays, when there's enough snow. Most years, that lasts from December to April. Conditions are regularly updated online, at skifergi.com.
Driving in the county on Highway 82, check Fergi's open/closed signs. There's one in Enterprise, outside Ed Staub & Sons Propane. The other is in Joseph, at the start of the Imnaha Highway, across the street from the Chevron station.
The sign in Joseph is also a landmark on the drive to Fergi. After 10 minutes on the Imnaha Highway, turn right onto Tucker Down Road. The next three miles are uphill, before it snakes around the base of the ridge.
For more information, call Eagle Cap Ski Club president Charlie Kissinger at 541-398-1167.
In addition to Fergi, Kissinger suggests other spots for cross-country skiing: Salt Creek Summit and Hurricane Creek.
Meanwhile, downtown Enterprise boasts Wallowa Valley Community Ice Rink. It's this state's only outdoor, un-refrigerated rink.
Usually, the surface is open. Each day, two hours are set aside each day for local hockey games or lessons. Even then, anyone is invited to lace up their skates and join a game. Free sticks and pucks are available next to the ice. The bulletin board has copies of the schedule.
Every year in early December, volunteers assemble the rink at Enterprise City Park, at the corner of Depot and Greenwood Street. Drivers southbound on Highway 82 make a right at Southwest Second Street and after two blocks, parking is on the right.
Deb's Apparel, a clothing store on Main Street, two blocks from the ice, rents hockey skates and figure skates. Daily rental costs $5. Add $2 for a few more days, or use the skates all week for $10. Deb's is open Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday, 11 to 4.
The rink is in full opertion until spring temperatures in mid-March. If a day is ever warm or rain threatens to damage the surface, manager Andie Leuders closes the rink. Before driving there, call the hotline (541-263-0715) about conditions.