From left to right, Herman Halvorson, Randi Ostby, Suzy Beckner and Denis Delisle of the Larch Hills Nordic Society accept a cheque for $20,000 to go to towards expansions of the chalet facility. The open house for the expanded chalet is set for Saturday, Dec. 8. (Photo contributed by Suzy Beckner)

Trail Tales: Nordic society excited to unveil Larch Hills chalet expansion

Project is a long time coming, supported by many partners

As the snow line creeps down the Fly Hills to the east and Mt. Ida to the south, we get excited about the prospect of snow in the Larch Hills. Rule of thumb is that if the snow is more than halfway down the Fly Hills there is snow in the Larch Hills – and there is. Twenty five centimetres at the chalet and 40cm at Cec’s Cabin.

Folks are surprised when we say we are skiing the Larch Hills trails when there isn’t a speck of snow in town. The snowmobiles are out packing and the Ginzu groomer is setting some trails. Here’s to another great season of track skiing, backcountry skiing and snowshoeing.

As the Larch Hills Nordics membership have been growing consistently over the past decade and hit the 1,000 members mark a few years ago, it became apparent to all that the current chalet was inadequate for all the activities hosted by the club.

We have 150 kids signed up in the Jackrabbit program who gather every Saturday morning for their lessons, 115 Junior Racers who train on the LH trails every Saturday morning and Wednesday evening, various events like the Lantern Ski, Fun Race, Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet, Pirate Loppet, various BC Cup/Championships, and the very popular school skiing program.

Related: Trail Tales: Be sure to try the bogs

The vision was for an expanded chalet which would accommodate these needs. So about five years ago the planning began. A committee of six was struck to get the ball rolling and see the project through. With a projected cost of over $400,000, fundraising was critical and began three years ago.

The very popular Dancing With The Shuswap Stars has been the main fundraiser, bringing in $90,000 for the project. Salmar, SASCU, NORD, CSRD, SIDIT, Shuswap Community Foundation, and Rotary have all contributed funds. Added to the many individuals and local business who have donated, we were shy of our $400,000 goal when last spring BC Gaming awarded us a $100,000 capital grant which put us into finishing mode. To date the cost of expansion has been $450,000. The handicapped washroom and wheelchair ramp will be done next spring.

But it took the thousands of volunteer hours given by volunteers from the community of Salmon Arm and members of the Larch Hills Nordics to see the chalet expansion come to fruition in a timely manner. Plans were drawn up for the log expansion and building began in spring of 2017.

I remember well the hours spent on hands and knees fitting the blue foam-block insulation on the basement floor, then the rebar on top to wire the many metres of tubing to house the liquid for in-floor heating, and cement poured on top of this. The basement of the two-floor expansion was completed for last year’s ski season and the large heated area was well appreciated by all. The focus this year has been the upper floor with all the minutia of detail one faces in building and finishing. It was good fun, though, gathering to paint the inside with its vaulted ceilings!

Related: Trail tales: Appreciating Cec’s Cabin at Larch Hills

And now we are on the finishing stretch in this massive project, and ready to celebrate its completion with a Grand Opening of the chalet expansion on Thursday, Jan. 3 at 2 p.m. Everyone is welcome, come join us in our celebration and think snow!

Submitted by Marcia Beckner

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