It's almost time again to sign up as a winter volunteer at the Gordon Reese Cabin along the Chief Joseph Cross Country Ski trails. The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest operates the cabin, with the general public renting overnight stays on the national Forest Service recreation website. However, some work needs to be done through the winter to keep the cabin in a "welcoming" mode. That work is done on Fridays by volunteers, who get to stay overnight for no charge. They serve as cabin hosts, tending the woodstove fire and making sure snow is melting for hot water. The cabin's deck and doors and the paths to the outhouses need to be cleared, the firewood needs to be brought up from the basement to the woodstove and there are some cleaning duties.

The cabin is about a half mile from the Chief Joseph Pass parking area on Montana Highway 43 on Chief Joseph Pass at the south end of the Bitterroot Valley. To volunteer, call the Wisdom Ranger District at (406) 689-3371, but NOT UNTIL Monday, November 5 at 8 a.m. This is the only number for the cabin volunteer program and the line is often busy when you call on November 5th. On the other hand, if you want to reserve a night for your cross country ski trip on the other nights of the week, the cost is $10 per night and is open for rentals from December 1st to April 15. Those reservations are also opening up November 5th at 8 a.m. The trails are groomed by Lost Trail Powder Mountain ski area, the Bitterroot Cross Country Ski Club and the U.S. Forest Service. For general information, call the Wisdom Ranger District at (406) 689-3243.