The Larch Hills Nordic Society hosts a grand opening of phases 1 and 2 of its ongoing trail lighting project at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021. (Marcia Beckner photo)

The Larch Hills Nordic Society hosts a grand opening of phases 1 and 2 of its ongoing trail lighting project at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021. (Marcia Beckner photo)

Column: New lighting makes for magical cross-country skiing at Larch Hills

Trail Tales by Marcia Beckner

We are certainly going to have a white Christmas!

And in the Larch Hills one is surrounded by trees super loaded with snow – magical!

Both in our backcountry and track skiing outings we have been blown away by the beauty which surrounds us. This promises to be a wonderful ski season!

This past Saturday there was a ceremony at the chalet which heralded the completion of a project the Larch Hills Nordic Society undertook two years ago. With short days in the winter and folks wanting to ski into the evening, headlamps were just not cutting it. A committee was formed to research trail lighting and, with much fundraising and gathering of resources, the project got underway.

We now have the first two phases of lit trails completed in the Larch Hills – the dream of many come to fruition! The grand opening of the lit trails was attended by many skiers, dignitaries, donors and folks involved in the project. As the ribbon was cut, the lights came on and quite a number of us of us headed out on the lit trails to celebrate this new chapter in the Larch Hills Nordics’ evolution. On the current 3.4-kilometre route there are 65 light poles with efficient LED lighting.

Next year will see the addition of another 2.7 kilometres when phases 3 and 4 are constructed. The total cost to date is $290,000. Thanks to grants, plus corporate and private donations, the expense has been met. What a boon to have this addition on the hill!

Read more: Event marking completion of first two phases to take place Saturday, Dec. 18

Read more: Hit the lights: Ceremony marks opening of lit trails at Larch Hills

The Junior Race Team is certainly taking advantage of the new lighting during after school training sessions. Sure beats headlamps! Skiing lit trails gives the skier a totally different experience than during the day. Try it some evening. Arwen’s Dream will have a completely different feel, quite wonderful actually. Lights are on every evening from 4 to 9 p.m.

Thanks to the hard working committee who brought this lighting project to life – Jeff Orchard, Rob Van Varseveld, Randi Ostby, Duncan Moore and Craig McBride.

Lots of terrific skiing and snowshoeing to be enjoyed over the Christmas holiday. With the plethora of snow, the Piston Bully has been out setting track all over the hill. The backcountry is calling out to be explored, the snowshoe trails are exemplary.

The popular Lantern Ski will be held Thursday, Dec. 29, with a cadre of volunteers heading out at 4 p.m. to light the lanterns which will have been placed along the five-kilometre route by another cadre of volunteers earlier in the day. If you would like to take in this magical event, arrive anytime between 5 and 9 p.m., and ski the route in the direction indicated. Be sure to watch out for the candle Christmas tree!

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the chalet will not be open for the traditional hot drinks and goodies. So bring your own and enjoy outdoors.

Come Jan. 22, 2022, we will be hosting a modified Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet. Modified in that although there will be the usual distances which we have had all the past years, and each participant will be timed, there will be no posted results (one can find them on Zone 4 after the event), and there will not be the grand beef on a bun and other food and drinks at the finish. COVID-19 has put a kibosh on that. As modified as the event will be, we’re just happy to have a loppet!

A lovely Christmas season to all. Happy skiing and think snow!
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