Marcia Beckner enjoying a cross-country ski outing on White Lake. (Contributed)

Column: Staying active while social distancing in the Larch Hills

Trail Tales by Marcia Beckner

By Marcia Beckner

Contributor

I these uncertain times of self distancing and very little social interaction, it is reassuring to have a constancy in one’s life – a “go to” place.

For me it is the Larch Hills. Although the chalet is closed and the outhouses are locked, and track setting finished last week, the trails are still open.

Yesterday (March 30), Jim and I checked the Larch Hills Nordic Society website cam after the rain in Salmon Arm. Rain in Salmon Arm means snow in the Larch Hills if the temperature is cold enough. And it was! Fresh snow blanketed the stadium and the parking lot. Headed up for a two-hour late-afternoon ski on the South Loop in brilliant sunshine, breaking trail in four centimetres of fresh snow.

Great for the body, great for the soul!

By the time we finished, the sun was setting and the tall trees on Sentinel cast long shadows. Beautiful!

The Larch Hills ski trails are open; however, there are rules, in light of the current COVID-19 situation: Please stay home if you have any symptoms of illness; only travel to Larch Hills with individuals from your immediate household; ski in small groups with members of your own household; stay two metres away from other skiers and do not congregate at the trailheads or main junctions; and ski with extreme caution to avoid injury.

Folks will be happy to hear Larch Hills and Edgar roads have been graded, so the trip to the hill is not so bone-jarring.

Read more: Salmon Arm considering bid for future BC Games, 55+ Games

Read more: Column: Nordic skiing thrives in the Shuswap thanks to active clubs

This spring we’ve had the pleasure of skiing three local lakes. Gardom Lake is a lovely ski around two islands. At the far north end of the lake, Jelle Artima has cleared off a small oval in front of his place. Growing up in Friesland, Netherlands, Jelle is a dedicated speed skater so we had lots in common. He showed us his Zandstra speed skate blades which he clicks on to his cross-country ski boots. Brilliant! Now he has clap skates. He demonstrated on his small oval. Has me inspired!

White Lake is a much larger lake to ski but it is a lovely ski. There’s the occasional ice fisherman and a small hockey rink in front of a residence which is perfect for the small kids craving exercise while having to be physically distancing.

Rosemond Lake, near Mara, is smaller but beautifully situated, bordered by farmland. We have skied the abandoned rail trail from Sicamous to Mara, which goes through this area, but being on the lake gives a whole new perspective.

And, of course, we have done a lot of skiing on Shuswap Lake in Salmon Arm bay. Last year we were able to ski across the lake to Pierre’s Point but this year the ice in the bay did not freeze completely. Skiing the foreshore is great! A couple of times we skied to town from Raven to various appointments/gatherings.

COVID-19 wreaked havoc with the cross-country ski racing calendar. The apex of the competition season, the National Cross Country Ski Championships, were to be held at the end of March at Sovereign Lake but were cancelled. So sad for all the athletes, families and the organizers.

However, this had been a banner year for the Larch Hills race team having won both the Midget Championship and the BC Championship banners. Congrats to the team!

Happy spring! Stay healthy!

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