Best time for ski­ing is right now

The Daily Courier - - OUTDOORS - J.P. SQUIRE J.P. Squire, aka the Ski Sher­iff, is a re­tired re­porter and avid out­doors en­thu­si­ast. Email: [email protected]

The Christ­mas-New Year’s crowds are gone, the days are al­ready no­tice­ably longer, and the best time for ski­ing, snow­shoe­ing and other out­door win­ter ac­tiv­i­ties is here.

There are two win­ter dates that are note­wor­thy for the Sher­iff. Dec. 21 is “turn­around day” aka the win­ter sol­stice or short­est day of the year. That’s when the sun turns around and heads back to the north­ern hemi­sphere. In prac­ti­cal terms, it is the start of an­other warm weather sea­son since it is only go­ing to get warmer from that date for­ward.

The other date is Jan. 1, the of­fi­cial start of a new cal­en­dar year. For many out­door re­cre­ation lovers, it is a time to look ahead to the com­ing months and perhaps an un­of­fi­cial New Year’s res­o­lu­tion to plan new ad­ven­tures whether it’s ex­plor­ing new cross­coun­try trails or more chal­leng­ing down­hill runs, or check­ing out a new cross-coun­try ski area or down­hill re­sort.

And then, plan­ning new spring ad­ven­tures from hik­ing to bik­ing to kayak­ing to horse­back rid­ing to fi­nally get­ting that mo­tor­cy­cle out of stor­age. A new year is full of pos­si­bil­i­ties and sur­prises. The ex­cite­ment is al­ready build­ing.

Af­ter the chal­leng­ing open­ing of Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snow­shoe Club, the Sher­iff and Con­stant Com­pan­ion Car­men tried to make up for lost time with out­ings last Satur­day and Mon­day.

We joined a dozen mem­bers of the Cen­tral Okana­gan Out­doors Club on Satur­day to check out one of our most pop­u­lar cross-coun­try loops — River­side-Back­coun­try to the new cabin at the Back­coun­tryBack­coun­try Con­nec­tor junc­tion.

And we joined hik­ing-bik­ingski­ing bud­dies Lawrence and Mag­gie on Mon­day to check out new ter­ri­tory.

We parked at the Sum­mit lot on High­way 33, then went up Thun­der Moun­tain Trail to Back­coun­try. We usu­ally head up Back­coun­try to Fletcher Chal­lenge and to the Meadow Cabin but in­stead headed the op­po­site di­rec­tion. It was a beau­ti­ful glide down, down, down three kilo­me­tres to the new cabin.

How­ever, the Sher­iff re­mem­bered what goes down must even­tu­ally go back up. Ol’ 33 — new ter­ri­tory for us — is par­al­lel to blue Back­coun­try and up, up, up four blue switch­backs for 1.3 kilo­me­tres. It is def­i­nitely a dif­fi­cult run when head­ing in that di­rec­tion with a Steep Hill warning sign at the top. Then you are on a green trail 1.5 kilo­me­tres back to Thun­der Moun­tain Trail. It was a fun work­out but not rec­om­mended for week­ends when more skiers will be head­ing in the other di­rec­tion.

On Tues­day, COOC down­hillers hit Sil­ver Star Moun­tain Re­sort in the North Okana­gan. Fresh light pow­der overnight – 13 cen­time­tres at –11.7 C — meant groomed runs were beau­ti­ful and soft, and tree ski­ing un­be­liev­able for those who brought their wide boards.

The Sher­iff rec­om­mends check­ing the groom­ing re­ports while you eat an early break­fast. Fresh snow rep­re­sents an op­por­tu­nity to get first tracks in the pow­der. And the soft snow gets piled up by ski and snow­board edges later in the day.

The new Des Schu­mann Gon­dola is an en­gi­neer­ing mar­vel, pro­tect­ing you from any wind and al­low­ing dis­cus­sions among up to eight peo­ple on the best runs that day. Light snow be­gan to fall Tues­day af­ter­noon, wip­ing out ear­lier tracks and promis­ing an­other pow­der day on Wed­nes­day. Can’t wait to get back and check out more runs next week.

*****

The Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snow­shoe Club has teamed up with the Cen­tral Okana­gan Out­doors Club to of­fer trail fa­mil­iar­iza­tion and ski tip days twice a week, es­pe­cially for new mem­bers of Kelowna Nordic.

Tips and Trails starts on Sun­day when Lisa Howard will lead a group of be­gin­ners and in­ter­me­di­ate skiers around some of the trails while of­fer­ing ski tips. On Wed­nes­days, the leader will be Mar­shall Mo­leschi of the Cen­tral Okana­gan Out­doors Club. Sun­day and Wed­nes­day out­ings will con­tinue for the next month to gauge in­ter­est.

Those who want to car­pool or meet in Kelowna should be at the Ap­ple Bowl on Burtch Road at 9 a.m. or Rut­land Lions Park at 203 – 321 Pem­ber­ton Rd. at 9:15 a.m. You can also meet the group at the main cabin on McCul­loch Road at 10 a.m.

Kelowna Nordic has nu­mer­ous new mem­bers as a re­sult of a mem­ber­ship drive. Learn­ing more about the trails as a new­comer can be in­tim­i­dat­ing so this joint ef­fort rep­re­sents a great op­por­tu­nity to learn more about the trails, how to ski and to meet like­minded out­door lovers.

***** Tele­mark Nordic Club in West Kelowna wants to ed­u­cate peo­ple about its ski area and pro­grams, and is wel­com­ing ev­ery­one to its 33rd an­nual Kelowna Ap­ple Lop­pet cross-coun­try ski race on Sun­day as a lead-up to the 2019 Western Cana­dian Cross-Coun­try Ski Cham­pion-ships that it will host on Feb. 8-10.

“Regis­tra­tion in­cludes a fan­tas­tic lunch pro­vided by award-win­ning Water­front Wines Cater­ing, top-three prizes for ev­ery 10-year age group and ev­ery youth cat­e­gory, plus a ‘race-within-a-race’ special award for fastest male and fastest fe­male on each of a timed hill­climb and timed down­hill run,” said board mem­ber Les­lie Man­ders. You can reg­is­ter on­line at zone4.ca.

“Never par­tic­i­pated in a cross­coun­try ski race be­fore? No prob­lem. There is a 7.5-kilo­me­tre recre­ational skier cat­e­gory and shorter cour­ses for young first­timers as young as three years old. If you are look­ing for more of a chal­lenge, there is a 30-kilo­me­tre skiathlon which can be raced in­di­vid­u­ally or as a two-per­son re­lay.”

Mike Ed­wards, Tele­mark’s new gen­eral man­ager, said: “I am re­ally look­ing for­ward to ex­pe­ri­enc­ing my first Ap­ple Lop­pet with the club. Ev­ery­one tells me how much fun they have. New this year is a Special Olympics cat­e­gory.”

The West Kelowna club is en­cour­ag­ing ev­ery­one to dis­cover cross-coun­try ski­ing and snow­shoe­ing at Tele­mark.

“We have over 50 kilo­me­tres of pro­fes­sion­ally groomed cross­coun­try ski trails for skate and clas­sic ski­ing for be­gin­ner and ex­pe­ri­enced skiers, in­clud­ing sev­eral lighted trails for night ski­ing,” said Man­ders.

“We also have 60 kilo­me­tres of stun­ning snow­shoe trails that wind through quiet, pris­tine pon­derosa and cedar forests, and pro­vide breath­tak­ing views. Never skied or snow­shoed be­fore? Tele­mark Nordic Club of­fers rentals, and les­sons for chil­dren and adults alike.”

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to tele­mar­knordic.com, con­tact gen­eral man­ager Mike Ed­wards at 250-7075925 or email mike.ed­[email protected]­mar­knordic.com.

*****

Once again, Kristy Lovig is coach­ing the Sun Run InTrain­ing Pro­gram start­ing Tues­day from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Kins­men Field­house, lo­cated at the Mis­sion Sports Fields di­rectly be­hind the H20 Cen­tre at Lex­ing­ton Street and Gor­don Drive in Kelowna.

SportMedBC, in part­ner­ship with the Van­cou­ver Sun, co-or­di­nates the InTrain­ing clin­ics at more than 65 lo­ca­tions. The aim of the clin­ics is to mo­ti­vate and as­sist new run­ners and walk­ers to take part in the Van­cou­ver Sun Run on April 14 through par­tic­i­pa­tion in a 13-week grad­u­ated train­ing pro­gram.

“The clinic typ­i­cally at­tracts 70-plus par­tic­i­pants in Kelowna, which pro­vides a great train­ing en­vi­ron­ment, full of sup­port and ca­ma­raderie as you work to­wards your goal of com­plet­ing the Sun Run,” said Lovig.

“This is a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity for any­one who would like to learn to run and par­tic­i­pate in the Van­cou­ver Sun Run (10 km).”

Lovig re­moves the in­tim­i­da­tion fac­tor by eas­ing par­tic­i­pants into running through a grad­u­ated walk/run pro­gram. In fact, you’ll be walk­ing more than you run in the ear­lier weeks of the pro­gram. It’s her ob­jec­tive to en­sure that you reach your goal in­jury-free while ac­tu­ally en­joy­ing your­self.

The Run Stronger pro­gram is back this year, pro­vid­ing var­i­ous lev­els of work­outs for re­turn­ing par­tic­i­pants, or those look­ing to im­prove on their 10K time.

Walk­ers are wel­come, she said, not­ing there is a spe­cific pro­gram geared to­wards those who aim to walk the Sun Run course.

The cost for the 13-week clinic is $150. Reg­is­ter by phone at 250-4698800 or on­line at Kelowna.ca/ re­cre­ation (bar­code: 12644).

*****

Arion Ther­a­peu­tic Farm at 2457 Saucier Rd. in East Kelowna is host­ing two ve­gan com­mu­nity potlucks a month. Par­tic­i­pants meet at the Cre­ative Cen­tre over­look­ing the farm’s lla­mas and goats at 5 p.m. to­day.

They are bringing their favourite ve­gan dishes, shar­ing recipes and healthy liv­ing tips, and mak­ing new friends, all while en­joy­ing Arion’s scenic farm set­ting. The din­ner starts at 5:30 p.m.

Those in­ter­ested in at­tend­ing the next din­ner should email ar­i­on­ther­a­peu­tic­[email protected] and let the farm know what you are bringing.

*****

Big White Ski Re­sort’s Ju­nior Chef Chal­lenge is inspiring the next gen­er­a­tion of culi­nary tal­ent.

The next chef to keep an eye on at Big White is just 12 years old. Kelowna-based Raa­jin Hoon­jan beat 21 other as­pir­ing young chefs, in­clud­ing his 10-year-old sis­ter, Giann, at the Ju­nior Chef Chal­lenge on Dec. 28 pre­sented by the Fam­ily Chan­nel and hosted by Happy Val­ley’s ex­ec­u­tive chef, Bod­die Mack­lin-Shaw.

“It’s an amaz­ing new di­rec­tion in our part­ner­ship with the Fam­ily Chan­nel that com­bines in­ter­est in culi­nary achieve­ment with fun fam­ily entertainment,” said Trevor Hanna, the re­sort’s vice-pres­i­dent of hos­pi­tal­ity. “These kids leave the chal­lenge with life skills and an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the culi­nary arts they’ll carry on in the fu­ture.”

The Ju­nior Chef Chal­lenge is part of Big White’s part­ner­ship with DHX Tele­vi­sion’s Fam­ily Chan­nel. Since Oc­to­ber 2015, DHX and Big White have worked together to or­ga­nize fun, fam­i­lyfriendly ac­tiv­i­ties.

“We are thrilled about our con­tin­ued part­ner­ship with Big White Ski Re­sort,” said a DHX spokesper­son.

There will be five more Ju­nior Chef Chal­lenges through­out 2019 with the next one on Jan. 18. Sign up at the Concierge Desk.

J.P. SQUIRE/The Daily Courier

One of the won­der­ful char­ac­ter­is­tics of the pop­u­lar Back­coun­try Trail at Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snow­shoe Club is the panoramic view, above, as you head to­ward a new cabin. The cabin has a wood­stove with wood stacked out­side and an out­house nearby.

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