It’s the time of year when kids are practising their snowplow, herringbone and their best “Arrrr” for the upcoming elementary schools Pirate Loppet at Larch Hills.
Though I’ve seen plenty of wonderful photos of the event from years past (thanks to former Salmon Arm Observer photographer James Murray, and our current photographer Evan Buhler), I’ve never actually attended one.
I hope to do so soon, though, when it’s my son’s turn to put on a pirate hat and skis.
This is my son’s first year at cross-country skiing with the Jackrabbits program. While we’ve had the off day, where he hasn’t felt like participating, thankfully they’ve been outnumbered by the good days. (A bit of chocolate during the drive to Larch Hills Saturday mornings for Jackrabbits seems to help – for all of us, really.)
Those good days usually involve a lot of smiles (not just from the chocolate), plenty of falling on the bum and the slow, but sure acquisition of the skills needed to avoid that falling part.
Witnessing my son’s joy on skis rapidly warms any sensation of cold I might be feeling, as I become flushed with happiness.
I have my wife and mother-in-law to thank for getting me into cross-country skiing. Wow, I just realized that was about seven years ago. Funny that, as I still consider myself a novice – still falling on my derriere from time to time.
Larch Hills has been my training ground for the most part.
I did visit the cross-country ski trails in Revelstoke. The snow was compact and icy, and I remember ending up going down a steep and winding hill with ditches on either side. Not ever having had a proper lesson, and not having really figured out the snowplow, my descent was rapid, yet it seemed to go on and on. All the while, I was hoping, if not praying, I wouldn’t go off the road, crash into something or someone, or both. There might have been some silent cursing involved too. Thankfully, I made it to the bottom without incident, though I haven’t been back since – first impressions and all.
My father-in-law was with us that day in Revelstoke and it was maybe the following year that he got me a couple of hours worth of cross-country skiing lessons as a Christmas present. I’ve only had time to cash in on one, but oh what a difference it has made. Subsequent practice has also been beneficial.
While I really enjoy cross-country skiing, I have no desire to compete. I do admire the grace and speed involved in skate skiing – but I’m cool with classic. It’s a pace that allows me to take in the beauty of Larch Hills, which is particularly mesmerizing on those days the sun has broken through the clouds (I sometimes carry a camera, hoping to capture some of that beauty).
My hope is that one day soon my son will be up to joining my wife and I on the ski trails. And, of course, I’m also looking forward to his first Pirate Loppet experience. I have been trying to impress upon him, though, that cross-country skiing need not be about getting from point A to point B in a hurry. It’s about having a joyful experience in the outdoors. Even if that includes falling on your bum, for which, I guess, I might be considered something of a role model.