Coaches, parents and students in the Skill Development program at Nickel Plate Nordic Centre held their annual barbecue at the ski area west of Penticton last weekend. The social outing for everyone is held after the second or third weekend lesson for the kids.
Mother Nature was overly generous (not according to diehards) leading up to Christmas and into the New Year, then gave us spring skiing conditions for two weeks.
This week, she provided more dumps of fresh powder, not quite enough to apply the 20-centimetre rule - "I'm sick today, boss" - but enough to make those of us stuck in an office jealous of those who have the time off.
The Ski Sheriff and Constant Companion Carmen explored Thunder Mountain at Kelowna Nordic Ski Club last weekend. We parked at the small lot on Highway 33 just past Big White Road and then herringboned up the steady grade to rolling terrain.
You can also get there from the club's new Summit Parking Lot on Highway 33 opposite that highway truck chain-up area. The latter lot is not only larger, but has a washroom, especially for early-morning coffee drinkers.
As we headed west on Thunder Mountain Trail (Kallis Creek Forest Service Road), we saw a sign for Old Cedar Trail opposite Mochi's Trail to the Summit lot. We decided to continue on Thunder Mountain Trail to Backcountry to Fletcher Challenge, and spotted the end of Old Cedar Trail at the Fletcher Challenge junction with Panorama Trail.
We dropped into Upper Meadow Cabin sauna (38C with the wood stove fully loaded) for lunch, then headed back to Thunder Mountain on Old Cedar Trail. Backcountry Trail which is generally east-west has a wide-open area after logging for beetle-kill trees. Old Cedar Trail is to the north at the edge of the trees and at a higher elevation, so you look down on the clearing. It's definitely for advanced skiers with some steep whoop-de-doo downhills (heading east). CCC can't wait to do it again, but so wants to do it west-to-east so she doesn't have to climb those hills.
Of note, the ski map posted on the website doesn't show Old Cedar Trail since the map dates back to November 2011. But new paper maps at the lodge and cabin do illustrate it.
For fans of snowshoeing, the Kelowna Nordic snowshoe schedule is posted on the website (kelownanordic.com) under Club Activities and then under Events.
The new Snowy Kitten (names of all snowshoe trails begin with Snowy) was tracked last Sunday. This Sunday, snowshoe director and guide Rick Gee plans another hike there to flag it, remove old flagging tapes and prune back any growth. Meet at the Apple Bowl parking lot in Kelowna at 8:45 a.m. for carpooling.
In the South Okanagan, "thanks to our staff, board members and general membership, we have lots going on at Nickel Plate Nordic Centre in early February," president Esther Skrypiczajko said this week.
Today, there is a hot-dog barbecue at noon: $3 for a hot-dog and drink. Demo Day, sponsored by Peach City Runners and Adventure Sports in Penticton, has been rescheduled for 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Sunday. Everyone can try the latest skis and boots from Salomon and Fischer. Non-members will have to pay the trail fee. A lunchtime barbecue has burgers for $5 and hotdogs for $3 with complimentary drinks and dessert.
Volunteers are still needed for the annual loppet on Feb. 9. You can sign up in the lodge and registration is also available on-line. Some trails will be closed that morning.
"Spectators are encouraged, and can purchase a bowl of chili and a bun for $5," said Skrypiczajko.
As well, "NP is celebrating B. C.'s first Family Day by having a family event on Monday, Feb. 11. Families are invited to come up and enjoy recreating 'clear above the clouds.' A whole family can rent skis, use the trails and have a lesson for $75, or rent snowshoes and use the snowshoe trails for $50. We hope this will be the beginning of a great tradition for us."
The Valentine's lunch on Feb. 15 will be catered by Nickel Plate chefs, Buck Pacholzuk and Elvia Dumas, serving spaghetti and meatballs. Members are asked to contribute a salad or dessert.
"Everyone is invited to join us for this festive occasion, but $8 tickets must be purchased by Feb. 8," she said.
For more information on Nickel Plate events, go to the website: nickelplatenordic.org.
Big White Ski Resort hosted the B.C. Snowboard Association's Provincial Series Boardercross at Telus Park last weekend.
"It was incredibly exciting with more than 70 participants from around the world. This was a provincial-level event with competitors of all ages. A number of riders competed at the FIS level to earn points to qualify for Canadian snowboard nationals. There was also an open category for riders of all ages which showcased some fantastic local and national talent," said senior VP Michael J. Ballingall.
At Big White Ski Resort, your dog can now get his or her or its own season pass.
The free pass has the dog's photo as well as the owner's phone number so it acts as an ID while both are on the mountain. If your canine companion becomes lost while playing with his beloved frisbee, ball or bone, staff and guests will be able to contact the owner immediately.
J.P. Squire, aka the Ski Sheriff, is an Okanagan Saturday reporter and an avid outdoors enthusiast. His column appears every weekend.