Six members of the Kelowna Nordic Ski Club checked out the 16 kilometres of snowshoe trails at Silver Star Mountain Resort last Saturday. The regular snowshoe group is also working on the snowshoe trails of the popular cross-country and snowshoe area beside McCulloch Lake.
The conditions were excellent, like mid-winter, except there was brilliant sunshine instead of the usual valley cloud. No twigs, no rocks and excellent grooming on what has become our favourite loop, the Carl Wylie Trail, named after the long-time Sovereign volunteer and father to now-general manager Don Wylie.
Neighbour Silver Star Mountain Resort opened for the downhill season on Thursday with a pleasant temperature of -1C, a village base of 46 centimetres, alpine base of 66 cm, two cm of new snow and 24 cm during the past seven days. However, skies were overcast, wind moderate and the visibility was that challenging 'variable.' All 25 alpine runs were groomed and so were the 25 cross-country trails. Lifts open 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. were the Comet Express and Silver Queen. The Summit Chair, Alpine Meadows Chair and the Discovery Park Magic Carpet will open today. Silver StarÃs on-mountain shuttle is now operating 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Tube Town Adventure Park will open Dec. 7.
You can sign up for email daily reports at skisilverstar.com. Thursday's came with a mountain map with the open territory shaded in yellow. Nice.
Big White Ski Resort also opened for downhill on Thursday, two days early, with -1C, light wind, limited visibility, high overcast, two cm of new snow, 14 cm in the past seven days and a base of 48 cm. Three lifts were in operation: Lara's Gondola, Plaza Quad and Ridge Rocket Express for access to 12 runs. More lifts, runs, Mega Snowcoaster Tube Park and the skating rink are expected to open today.
"Eager skiers and snowboarders lined up as early as 7 a.m. to get the coveted first chair up. Quinn Best, Jeff Willard, Craig Thomason and Alex Acorn all earned bragging rights for the season as they came decked out with lawn chairs just as the sun was coming up, all in the name of fresh tracks," said senior VP Michael J. Ballingall.
With reduced terrain came reduced rates, with Big White offering 50 per cent off single day lift tickets, equipment rentals, and private and group lessons on Thursday and Friday.
For more info, go to: bigwhite.com.
Apex Mountain Resort is opening today but Crystal Mountain has delayed its opening to next Friday.
In the South Okanagan, the junior racing team from Nickel Plate Nordic Centre will have a float in today's Santa Claus Parade in downtown Penticton.
"The kids will be wearing their flashy team suits as they hand out candy and free rental coupons to spectators," said president Esther Skrypiczajko.
"They will be accompanied by coaches and parents. All Nickel Plate members have been invited to join them and wear their NP jackets."
Members should meet at 3:30 p.m. on White Avenue west of Main Street. The parade will start at 4:30 p.m. sharp. Some of the junior racers will walk, some will roller ski and some will roller blade.
Due to the lack of snow, snowshoe trails have many obstacles still showing, she added.
"The Tuesday group ribboned the first half of Prospector's Point, but then turned back. It is recommended that the trails not be used until there is more snow."
Weather permitting, the office will be open this weekend which means that rentals will be available and season's passes can be picked up.
"Due to the unseasonably warm weather, please check the website before you head up there," said Skrypiczajko.
Kelowna Nordic Ski Club is reminding season pass holders to place the dashboard card sent out with memberships face up on the dash of vehicles while parked in any of the club parking lots.
In news, the Nordic No. 1 geocache has been moved to a new location this season to provide a new challenge for members who found it last season.
The club has also added a second geocache that goes by the name, Nordic Dog. As the name implies, this new cache will be located on one of the dog trails. The first few dogs that bring their masters to the correct spot will be rewarded with a doggy treat. Once the trails are groomed, the coordinates for these caches will be posted at the main cabin.
Last Saturday, six snowshoers from Kelowna Nordic had a pleasant, though mainly sunless, day at Silver Star Mountain Resort. The temperature was just below freezing all day and there was plenty of snow.
Last Sunday, Craig, his dog Peedie and snowshoe director-leader Rick Gee flagged and pruned Snowbound Trail. A bridge on that trail used to help snowshoers cross Kallis Creek. It has disappeared although a log supporting it remains. So be careful when crossing the creek. Craig broke through when he stepped off the log onto the ice. In other locations on Snowbound, where near the marsh, the ice is not too strong yet.
A second bridge over Kallis Creek on Snowy Vista had drifted downstream a little way. Craig and Gee pulled it upstream so it should be usable. It's just a few metres downstream from the original site.
The next trail maintenance trips are Dec. 8, 9, 15 and 16. All leave the Apple Bowl parking lot in Kelowna at 9 a.m,. All require snowshoes, lunch, water and pruning tools if you have them.
A winter hike through Rose Valley Regional Park could be a little smoky this winter, thanks to a large fuel modification project.
"When there's adequate snow cover and both air quality and venting conditions are favourable, the Central Okanagan Regional District will burn collected piles of wood debris in a four-hectare portion of the park," said communications officer Bruce Smith.
Before proceeding with burning on a particular day, local fire authorities and news outlets will be advised as well as Rose Valley Elementary School.
"This more densely-forested section of the park is in steeper terrain above West Kelowna Road and has been closed since the spring when the debris piles could no longer be safely burned," said Smith.
This work completes a large fuel-modification and fire hazard reduction project that began in the fall of 2011 and covered approximately 50 hectares of Crown land between the Rose Valley Properties subdivision, Westlake Road, Rose Valley Elementary, West Kelowna Road and McPhail Court.
Once the wood disposal is complete, this section of the park will re-open for visitors.
J.P. Squire, aka the Ski Sheriff, is an Okanagan Saturday reporter and an avid outdoors enthusiast. His column appears every weekend.