Marcia and Jim Beckner explore the backcountry in the Larch Hills on Dec. 30, 2020. (Contributed)

Marcia and Jim Beckner explore the backcountry in the Larch Hills on Dec. 30, 2020. (Contributed)

Column: Pandemic prompts more people to head for Larch Hills

Trail Tales by Marcia Beckner

By Marcia Beckner

Contributor

“Let’s do the Whoopies!” exclaimed one of the intrepid backcountry skiers as we emerged from Moonwalk onto Larch Lake Loop.

We had just completed a five-hour backcountry ski, out to Far East summit, but the keenness to keep skiing managed to override any fatigue. So we did the Whoopies. So glad we did so when we got back to the chalet.

With the excellent conditions on the hill, our backcountry outings have been wonderful. Doing the Great Circle clockwise was a new experience for me. It has its advantages in that you are not faced with the long Caribou Memory climb at the end, as you would doing it counter-clockwise.

Our ski to the Far East summit took us into new territory for some of us. Blaine and Judy have spent many hours clearing access to various trails in off-season, and leading us enthusiasts during ski season into wonderful backcountry terrain.

Much appreciated!

With Covid shutting down most indoor activities and all adult team sports, plus many children’s sports, cross-country skiing has become the go-to activity for lots of folks new to the sport.

The membership in the Larch Hills Nordic Society has grown from 1,000+ last year to more than 1,400 this ski season.

One only needs to check out the parking lot on the weekends – I’ve never seen the parking lot so full other than for the loppet or major BC Cup/racing events.

Last Sunday was so much fun skiing the lower trails and seeing all the young families having a marvellous time. There is one notable thing about cross-country skiing: everyone is smiling! Not a grouch among the crowd! Same could be said for the myriad snowshoers exploring the woods.

Read more: More leisurely event planned for 2021 iteration of popular Salmon Arm loppet

Read more: Larch Hills Nordic Society sees more trouble at ski area

Due to Covid, the 2021 Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet had to be cancelled. In normal times, it would have been held right about now. So the loppet committee got creative, and are encouraging interested skiers to ski the virtual loppet. Between January 17th and 31st, the tracksetters are hoping to trackset the 30km loop every day. Signs have already been put out for the 30-kilometre route which includes the 17-km plus the 5-km. Pick a distance and ski it. Then let Karen at the LHNS office know you have done it by email at manager@skilarchhills.ca. Great if you can include a photo of yourself, and others, along the route. Great draw prizes for those who email in.

A positive side effect of Covid: folks who have always been the support staff at the loppet – timers, course marshals, calculators, food preparation and serving – can now ski in the event. What a boon! You must be a member for the 2020/21 season or pay for a day use ticket and sign in to use the Larch Hills trails. Just remember the Covid restrictions: adults ski in a maximum group of four skiers, and keep a three-metre distance between skiers.

I am so looking forward to skiing the 30km at a leisurely pace, and enjoying the no-pressure event! The chalet, unfortunately, has restricted access: only seven people at a time allowed either upstairs or downstairs. And keep your inside time to 30 minutes. The washrooms are accessible from the outside.

Will it ever be nice when Covid recedes and we can have full use of this marvellous facility!

Stay safe. Stay healthy. And think snow!

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

cross country skiing

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The current B.C. Men’s curling champions, Rick Sawatsky (Vernon and now living and working in Kelowna, from left), Andrew Nerpin (Kelowna), Jim Cotter (Vernon) and Steve Laycock (Saskatoon), have yet to find the win column at the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary. (Black Press - file photo)
B.C. looking for Brier victory

Team B.C. falls to 0-2 Sunday, March 7, with 10-7 loss to Wild Card 1 entry from Manitoba

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
One of two Kelowna General Hospital COVID-19 outbreaks declared over

One outbreak declared over after two deaths, seven cases; another outbreak remains ongoing in the hospital

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna care home after 12 cases noted

Two staff members and 10 residents at Cottonwoods Care Centre have tested positive for COVID-19

There is no true picture of how many youth in Penticton are experiencing housing instability or true homelessness. The Foundry and the city of Penticton are trying to find that out.
How many youth are experiencing homelessness in Penticton?

Foundry Penticton and the City have partnered on a youth survey open until March 13

Chelsea Ishizuka was borned and raised in Penticton but has now moved to Japan. When she found out there was a popular restaurant there named after Penticton, she had to go check it out. Here she is with the owner (right). (Facebook)
Popular restaurant in Japan named after city of Penticton

A Pentictonite now living in Tokyo discovered the eatery and the history behind its name

Coldstream’s Kalamalka Secondary has teamed up with Globox on a fundraising raffle for its graduating class of 2021. (Photo supplied)
Okanagan secondary school grads glowing over fundraiser

Kalamalka Secondary teams with company on fundraising raffle, replacing annual apple pie fundraiser

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Most Read