BC Cross-Country Ski Championships on the way

The Pirate Loppet last Friday was a howling success.

Bastion Elementary School student Maggie Rodwell at the annual School District 83 Pirate Loppet held at Larch Hills.

Bastion Elementary School student Maggie Rodwell at the annual School District 83 Pirate Loppet held at Larch Hills.

Here I go again – gushing about another Larch Hills loppet!

The Pirate Loppet last Friday was a howling success. Great weather and tracks, well-organized, lots of great costumes, terrific black powder gun start, a cadre of AARRRRGH! volunteers and 380 skiers grades one to seven. What better recipe for a wonderful day?

Congrats to the organizers, volunteers, skiers, teachers, and parents. The pervading atmosphere was one of having fun – from the Larch Hills Junior Racing team skiers who burned around the course, to the kids who were out there for the first time. Pirate marshalls at each junction on the five kilometre route cheered on the skiers, then closed in behind the final skier to provide her with a noisy, colourful escort to the finish. Hot dogs and hot chocolate, co-ordinated by the Shuswap Lady Striders, rounded out the day.

Last week’s Observer had a wonderful article by Tammy Thielman on the Geezers group, initiated by Clint Smith. This group of mainly retired guys – but welcomes gals, as well – goes on an adventure every Thursday, four seasons of the year. This Thursday we are going to ski to the Summit, weather and snow conditions permitting. So nice to get out on non-set track in the tall trees north of the North Hub.

Last Wednesday, the Wednesday Wenches, a group of mainly gals – but guys are welcome – did the Great Squiggle. A few years ago when there was logging on the north side of the hill, and the Thicket and Caribou Memory on the Great Circle were not skiable, we would go out Clearcut Connection, as usual, then turn left at Larch Ledge up and over to Deer Track and down to North Hub. This became the Great Squiggle.

Instead of circling around the Summit on the west, we cut to the east of the Summit. On Thursday there were 16 of us that started out. Beautiful sunny day, great snow.

There is nothing quite like single-track skiing through a quiet forest with the snow-laden branches brushing your shoulder. The forest was not actually that quiet with the chatter of the gang.

At the North Hub a few of us decided to head down Treebeard’s, Hermann’s favourite trail, and since it was his birthday we had to do it. Soft fluffy snow, super skiing through the giant trees, sunlight streaming through the branches. We are blessed with such trails in the Larch Hills.

En route, Hermann was telling us about the early days of Shuswap Outdoors! when Tom and Connie Crowley would ski with a group up to the shelter Larch Lake on New Year’s Day and Connie would lay out the makings for a cheese fondue. Rather grand way to start the year. We’re encouraging Hermann to reinstitute the tradition.

The BC Championships are soon upon us.

As hosts for the event, Larch Hills volunteers are gearing up, making soup for the days on the hill, sending out the race invitation to the clubs in B.C., arranging for all the volunteers needed to make the event go smoothly.

Our own ski racers have been training to defend their title brought home from the BC Championships at Stake Lake, Kamloops last season. All Larch Hills skiers, five to 70-plus, are encouraged to enter this event to help Larch Hills bring the championship to the Larch Hills again this year. Go to the Larch Hills website:    skilarchhills.ca  for information.

Think snow!

Salmon Arm Observer