Do you realize that there are cross-country ski trails in many of the parks in Winnipeg? Some are groomed, which makes a huge difference for the skier.
I used to downhill ski in my younger days. However, since there are no hills close to Winnipeg I gave it up. For the last 16 years I have enjoyed cross-country skiing right inside the city.
Assiniboine Park is close to where I live, so I ski there regularly. Kildonan Park is another great place. So are St. Vital and La Barriere parks.
This winter ski season started late as snow was scarce. Sometimes the trails have bare spots making it difficult to slide. However, for the avid skier, a bit of grass or dirt won’t deter from the fun of being in the company of great friends, breathing in the fresh crisp air, hearing the crunch of the skis on the snow-covered ground, having a picnic in a snowbank and listening to birds chirping cheerfully.
It is a great way to beat the winter blues, even when the temperature drops to -30 C and perhaps as low as -45 C with the wind chill. As long as the trail is sheltered by trees and bushes it doesn’t feel as cold as some people might think. I have been out there many a time in -30 C and colder and sometimes a lot warmer.
Looking back a few years, I remember the last Saturday of February in 2004 was one of those rare days in the middle of a Manitoba winter that cannot be forgotten. Three of us gals decided that it was a perfect day to ski down the La Salle River to the town of La Salle to have lunch, which was delicious.
Having finished our lunch, we were ready to make the two-hour trek back. The sun being high in the sky had melted the icy snow on the river and it was much easier to ski back. The most amazing thing was that there was not a soul skiing on the river that morning except for us.
Soon the sun was baking our backs and we were getting rather hot, so we took our jackets off. Then our sweaters and T-shirts until we were eventually down to our bras. I think the temperature got up to 18 C that day.
For more information about cross-country ski trails in Winnipeg visit http://winnipeg.ca/publicworks/ParksandFields/Parks/xcountryski.asp.
Arny Hjaltadottir is a Winnipeg-based writer.
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