Oh yeah, it was a bluebird day alright; hardly a cloud in the the rich blue of the sunny sky that stretched over Summit Lake Ski Area. A perfect day to get a tour of the lodge’s newly-constructed addition and the new cross country ski loop built last year.
There was a lot of milling about at the beginning of the day, looking at the new building where the lockers and first aid area would be, complete with speeches from representatives from two of the major donors to the addition. Bob Parkinson was there on behalf of Kootenay Saving Credit Union and Columbia Basin Trust’s Lynda Lafleur also addressed the tour group briefly. In a nutshell, both were impressed with the work that had been done by all the volunteers including Eric Waterfield, Butch Warrantz and many many others, and the future expansion plans.
Waterfield’s vision for the hill is to turn it into a year-round recreational destination with facilities for hikers and ATV enthusiasts during the summer months as well as ski and snowshoe possibilities in the winter.
Although the sun was beating hard, there was still lots of good snow on the hill, and the tour group, which had definitely shrunk in size, headed up the bunny hill on skis and snowshoes to the mouth of the 4.4 kilometre cross country trail.
Sandwiched between the bunny hill and the also-new terrain part, the loop begins at the far side of the hill from the lodge, starting off with a gentle rise. Even so, it wasn’t long before layers of winter clothing were being shed on the expedition.
There are some natural points of interest along the way, some marked with a bright blue sign. The first was a giant cottonwood that had blown down in high winds, revealing its earth-heavy roots to passers by. Further down, another sign showed where a bear had scratched a marker showing territory, evidence that the hills are alive at Summit. Another sign stood next to a burned tree, and there was some gentle teasing about how it was known if it had burned in 1912 exactly.
Without signage were the Three Sisters, whose bright sunlit peaks were a highlight of the trek, easy to see as the trail left darker evergreen trees and passed through a birch forest. One skier remarked it reminded her of forests in eastern Canada, which are mostly deciduous, a rare thing out west.
Between the birch trees there were spots that looked like prime picnic territory, especially in all that sun. There are plans to put a first aid station at the far end of the loop at some point in the future as well, just to be safe.
Curving around back toward the ski area, the trail dipped down past a small still pond, offering a bit of a challenge to skiers. In no time at all, the group was back at the start of the loop, looking down the hill and across the valley to Summit Lake. In all, it was an hour of fun in the sun and snow and a great way to spend the time (especially for work).