Ullr has been kind to our little winter hamlet amidst the Rocky Mountains, providing both frequent moisture and low temperatures that can keep a skier smiling. A few bouts of wind, some waves of moisture from the west, and the snowpack just keeps piling up. The anticipated widening of the trails due to increased holiday visitors was superseded by thick blankets of snow, narrowing and softening the trails. Our local winter wonderland is truly a wonderful winter playground. We are blessed to have conditions that sustain winter’s hold with enviable consistency.
Not all winter resorts enjoy the reliability that we sometimes take for granted. We do have our warm or dry spells, but we can usually still find places to slide in the leanest times of winter months. Living on the ridge that divides the water flow of our country towards the east and west, as well as a unique geography that traps cold heavy air in the valley floor can do that for you. Not so fortunate at this point in time, are some of the resorts of the Alps region from whence the very term Alpine comes from. We have many members of our local nordic community representing us in the Biathlon in the Alps of Austria as this is being written.
There is a little mountain town on a high plateau near the Austrian border with Germany that is one such place. Seefeld is a mountain town with several modestly sized Alpine ski areas around it. It does not carry a large presence in downhill skiing circles, but it is a gem of the nordic world. With over 250 km of groomed cross-country trails connecting 5 villages, eight snowcats to groom those trails, most of them on a daily basis, and an infrastructure that allows moving easily from one town to another by a public bus system, this town has created a Nordic paradise. Skiers come from all over the world to enjoy moving around the winter landscape of the Alps on skinny skis.
Conflicts with the heavy traffic of other users are managed with a separate trail system that supports a mass of winter hikers who trek with poles in hand to some of the same destinations, scenic overlooks, neighboring villages or “huts” with full service restaurants, cafes, or bars located in remote mountain forests. Imagine putting your skis on from the doorstep of your abode, Skiing along well-cared-for trails to arrive at an isolated mountain lodge for a warm Bowl of soup and cup of tea, perchance sample some of the local distillery products (Schnapps in that neck of the woods).
We are positioned well with the raw materials needed to create an experience such as this that could expand the resort offerings of our local tourist economy. Some might consider that with long wait times in lift lines, congestion on the slopes, and with day ticket pricing flirting with the $200 mark that the Alpine system is nearing its capacity. We have the fairly reliable snow, cooler temperatures, trails and terrain that would support a nordic renaissance.
Considering Seefeld as a model, one can envision the growth of our own trail system, which has boosted our summer visitation with an inundation of mountain bikers, to become a draw to people interested in a less expensive, healthier, less stressful winter activity alternative. It would take a lot of cooperation and collective will, as any such undertaking does. We have made a good start with the grooming of community trails such as the Fraser to Granby trail, Fraser River Trail, Grand Park loop and Lunch Loop. Let’s keep that momentum going by being sure that we don’t let this trail system get extinguished by new development projects, by planning for interconnectivity and by grooming them frequently enough so that they are a reliable place for locals and guests to depend on and by giving them the kind of attention and care that we do our summer trails.