- Marcia Beckner photo                                Skiers approach the first bog at Larch Hills.

- Marcia Beckner photo Skiers approach the first bog at Larch Hills.

Trail tales: Be sure to try the bogs

By Marica Beckner, Observer contributor

We are blessed with an amazing variety of opportunities for ski outings in the Larch Hills.

Last Wednesday the Wenches, who traditionally ski off set track, decided on skiing a couple of the bogs up near Cec’s Cabin. Access to each of the bogs is well marked.

Once through the bush, cleared by George Zorn and his crew (thanks, guys!), we emerged into the open and on the bog across which we wended our way. It’s quite magical, actually, skiing this open, flat, deep snow bog surrounded by heavily snow-laden forest. A unique view-scape in the Larch Hills backcountry!

I highly recommend skiing the three bogs. Just remember fat basket poles to handle the deep snow.

The school ski program was very successful again this year with many elementary schools in District #83 having sessions in the Larch Hills with members of the Larch Hills Nordic Society volunteering to take the classes out on the trails to acquaint them with the trail system, share various ski techniques, and basically have fun.

Lots of students embraced the scarily-steep Camel’s Hump, and clamoured to have another go at it!

Anyone reaching the bottom without taking a spill en route down received a loud cheer form the crowd. Well-deserved!

These elementary students put their new skills to good use as they participated in the annual Pirate Loppet last Friday. A total of 450 kids from Grade 3 to Grade 8 took their places on the start line and skied their best to complete the 3 or 5-km route. Amazing pirate – and wench – outfits were sported by the students while adult pirate marshalls lined the course at strategic spots to cheer the skiers on.

Hot dogs, hot chocolate, and cookies greeted the finishers, hosted by the Shuswap Lady Striders.

Class photos were taken on the side hill, awards were presented on the main hill. We have a crew of guys to thank for the tracks set for the Pirate Loppet. The Pisten Bully had broken down after the Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet, plus all three snowmobiles. We had been without tracksetting for over a week. The part arrived on the Wednesday and three guys worked all day Thursday to install the part in order to have the Pisten Bully do its magic on Friday morning for the pirates.

Thanks to Dave Brubaker, Steve Raffel, and Bent Kristensen for their tireless dedication to the mechanical end of our skiing experience!

Next week Jim and I, along with six more adventurous skiers from Salmon Arm, head to Quebec to take part in the Tour De La Gaspesie, a week-long ski on the Gaspe peninsula, including the Chic-Choc Mountains.

An annual ski event, the tour welcomes upwards of 100 skiers to experience the Gaspesie by ski. Distances are anywhere from 35-km to 25-km/day. One has to be prepared for the weather, which can be brutally cold, but one always has the option to ski a shorter distance or, indeed, take the shuttle to the next overnight location. No need to prove anything or be a hero. By all reports the area is beautiful so just to be there will be an adventure.

The PyeongChang Olympics open this Friday. It will be exciting to watch the cross-country ski events, especially Canadian Alex Harvey, who has been proving a contender on the world Nordic racing scene reaching the podium in World Cups this year. For me, it is a very special week. It is exactly 50 years since I marched into the 1968 Grenoble Olympic stadium as member of Canada’s speed skating team. I will revisit those memories as I watch the Opening Ceremonies on Friday.

See you on the trails!