A smaller version of the Bilbo’s Bog igloo has returned to Larch Hills courtesy of Peter Mair. (Marcia Beckner photo)

A smaller version of the Bilbo’s Bog igloo has returned to Larch Hills courtesy of Peter Mair. (Marcia Beckner photo)

Column: Cold spell made for marvellous outdoor opportunities

Trail Tales by Marcia Beckner

Every time I have skied through Bilbo’s Bog this ski season I have pined for the igloos built annually by Peter Mair and cohorts.

I consoled myself with the fact that building an igloo, which would attract folks to crawl in and gather, is a non-starter in these COVID-19 times. So I was pleasantly surprised when I read on the Larch Hills Nordic Society website Trail Report that Peter constructed an igloo on Bilbo’s Bog on Saturday, Feb. 20. It’s a smaller version than his igloos of the past, but that would be in keeping with health protocols/restrictions. Check out the photo at skilarchhills.ca

Hopefully, next year we can be back to the full-size igloos with Peter’s expertise and help from his building mates. Thanks to Peter (Inuit name “Miska”) for continuing this tradition this year with a COVID-19 friendly edition. Skiers- be sure to check it out.

I always enjoy being on the hill Saturday mornings when the tribe of Jackrabbits hit the hill with their enthusiasm. Then in the afternoon when the Junior Race team take over, and the hill is littered with the iconic blue Larch Hills jackets on skiers of all sizes, from 8 years old to 19.

Last weekend we arrived in the morning to a race course with pink flags and blue curbs set up for the Junior Racers. By the time we arrived back to the stadium after our ski to the Far East, racing was well underway. A brilliantly sunny day. Karen, our manager, found it so lovely to hear all the laughter and excitement of all the racers, from the youngest to the oldest, as they skied about the stadium. With all races being cancelled this year, due to COVID-19, kudos go to the coaches for their creativeness in making this a local, racing-friendly year. It’s fine and dandy to train, but the goal of racing is what draws young aspiring skiers to the Junior Race team.

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The cold spell may have made many choose to stay home in their cozy abodes, but the accompanying sunshine invited many of us to take to the LH trails and backcountry. As the Scandinavians say, “There’s no bad weather, just bad gear!” So layering and being smart with how to stay warm is the ticket. A Smartwool or Icebreaker merino wool base layer, ski shirt or sweat shirt, windbreaker jacket, down jacket, hand warmers for your mitts, foot warmers if your feet are at risk, long underwear, overboots. When we went out for our backcountry adventures during the cold snap we looked like Arctic adventurers. But was it ever glorious to be out on the backcountry trails in the crisp air and powder snow; especially wonderful on the clearcuts when we were in full sun to warm us.

When the cold spell hit – with no new snow and no wind – the Salmon Arm bay froze adequately to provide an amazing skating rink for the community. If you were out and about on Family Day, Feb. 15, you would have seen hundreds of skaters out enjoying the huge ice surface in the bay near the wharf. I was out there for many hours – both just off Raven subdivision and at the wharf – trying out my new Dutch-made Zandstra blades, which attach to my cross-country ski boots, to make a modified speed skate. As a speed skater of many decades, it is wonderful to have this skating option.

Think snow!

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