If you’ve never taken part in the Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet at Larch Hills and wanted to see what it might be like, this would be a good year to clip on the cross-country skis and give it a try.
On Jan. 25, 2020, well before COVID-19 restrictions were in place in B.C. restricting social gatherings, about 470 skiers and more than 200 volunteers were at Larch Hills for the 36th Annual Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet. With the pandemic, and related restrictions, ongoing in the province, hosting such an event again this year wasn’t an option for the Larch Hills Nordic Society. So instead the group has planned a virtual event – one that allows skiers to try the 30-, 17- or 10-kilometre loppet routes at their own leisure.
“What we’re really hoping to do is some community building, get people out there,” said organizer Brad Calkins, stressing the virtual event is not a race, and can be done in one day or several, at a time that’s convenient. “There’s no time pressure, no mass start, you can stop and have a lunch along the way, rewax your skis.”
There is, however, the requirement that the loppet be completed by participants between Sunday, Jan. 17 (It’s OK if you start sooner) and Sunday, Jan. 31. Participants are also asked to share photos of themselves taking part in the loppet to the Larch Hills Nordic Ski Club Facebook page.
Calkins explained signs have already started to go up marking the designated routes, and maps and further information can be found on the above Facebook page as well.
As this is not a race, and because of covid restrictions, there will be no marshalling or first-aid stations, and skiers are required to bring their own food and supplies. In addition, access to the chalet is limited, though washrooms and outhouses are available.
In addition to the other designated loppet routes, the Loppet Committee has recommended an alternate scenic route that is close to the 30k: instead of turning right onto Panorama from Larch Lake Loop, continue to Whoopee North, on to Whoopee South, and then join back in on Panorama.
Those wishing to participate must be Larch Hills Nordic Society members for the 2020/21 season, or pay for a day use and sign in near the chalet. It is also asked that you email a photo and/or your name to email@example.com, so that you can be entered to win draw prizes.