Great year for diehard skiers

Looking down at a carpet of fresh snow surrounded by a snowy landscape, we could truly have been having a mid-winter experience.

It could have been the middle of winter. Standing at the top of Panorama, looking down at a carpet of fresh snow surrounded by a snowy landscape, we could truly have been having a mid-winter experience. Terrific skiing down Panorama and, subsequently, Baby Moonwalk, with snow conditions rivalling some of the best days we’ve had this ski season. But it wasn’t winter – it was early April! Without a doubt, this is a great year for diehards who want to keep skiing into the spring as long as possible. Jim and I count ourselves among those diehards. Tracksetting has ceased due to some mud issues near the tracksetter shed, plus the fact there are few skiers on the hill anymore. But with the soft conditions on top of the hard pack, tracks are not necessary. Out on the clearcut on the south loop, one can ski absolutely everywhere, as we did on Easter weekend. There are 16 to 18 inches of snow in the stadium area so we have a while to go before we’re scuppered. Our personal record is May 17th, in the late 1990s, and we have a photo with the late Pentti Vakeva out on the trail holding the sign with the date to prove it. Pentti was always the first on the hill early season and a diehard like us at the season’s end. We’ll see if we break that record this spring.One of the highlights of our skiing this spring was to ski out to Tom Jordan Shelter with Tom’s granddaughter, Lucy Elliott, along with our granddaughter, Maggie. Well we remember Tom’s untimely death in October 1998, and the subsequent building of this shelter in his memory by friends from the Larch Hills Nordic Society and Shuswap Outdoors. It had special meaning to visit the shelter with Lucy, who had never met her grandfather but had heard stories of his avid skiing the backcountry in the Larch Hills. Someday soon Lucy will have the pleasure of skiing the Great Circle, which was Tom’s favourite run, and know the joy of the backcountry which Tom loved. The Larch Hills chalet is now frequented by few skiers but for me has great memories of  events, activities, and just plain hanging out. The walls bespeak of the BC Championships we hosted in February with posters and a photo display on the bulletin board. The place was packed for the annual auction aiding the food banks after the Santa Cruise in December, the first race of the season. There was the fruit cake that went for a $100 donation to a happy bidder, and the huge oil painting in an ornate frame that went to another happy young bidder. And there were the folks with whom we just struck up conversations: the couple from Edmonton who were on a nordic centres tour in B.C. and told us Larch Hills is their favourite. Music to our ears! Then there was the couple from Washington who usually go on an alpine ski tour in Washington each year with their buddies but, with the conditions not great in their state, decided to head up to B.C. to do the nordic areas. They emailed photos of the Larch Hills back to their friends who decided not to come with them, and waxed enthusiastically about the wonderful trails the Washington gang was missing. Nice feedback. Spring skiing continues. No reports on the website but this diehard will let you know how it is if you get in touch.

Salmon Arm Observer

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