Making it through the winter means finding something to love about it. If you want to get enthusiastic about winter, look to Sweden: their winters are colder, darker, and more intense, but people embrace the season by schussing out into the great outdoors via ski or snowshoe.
If you’re going to flip the script and start loving winter, you need to be prepared. As the Swedish say, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.” Good clothing doesn’t have to be expensive; you probably already own everything you need to suit up for a romp in the snow. Dress warm and in layers.
Your base layer (closest to your skin) is there to regulate your body temperature, so it should be close fitting and breathable. Your mid-layer is your insulation, so think warmth without weight; you don’t want to restrict your movement. Finally, your outer shell should ideally be something waterproof. Also, bring a change of clothing for after, so you won’t be sogged the whole way home.
You can rent waxless classic cross country ski equipment (ski poles, ski boots, and skis) or snowshoes at Pippy Park for the affordable price of $5.00 an hour. If you want to learn how to ski, or improve your technique, Avalon Nordic offers lunchtime ski lessons every Tuesday and Friday between 12-1pm at Pippy Park.
Outfitters (220 Water Street) hosts Friday night snowshoe hikes for $10 per person (plus rentals, should you need them). The hikes are 5km, last about 2 to 2.5 hours, and they’re happening all the way to the end of March.
This type of sport attracts passionate folk, so the coaches love to teach and help people improve their skiing. It’s a whole lifestyle thing.
There’s a lot of variety in ski styles, so it always pays to ask around when you’re ready to buy. “It is recommended that most beginners should purchase combi skis and boots, so the skier has the flexibility to skate or classic,” says Jeffrey Cameron, head coach at Avalon Nordic.
The Avalon Nordic Ski Club (avalonnordic.ca) is registered non-profit and volunteer-run club that offers programs and services in recreational and competitive cross country skiing. The club offers a variety of programs and services, including year-round programming for adults and kids, and weekly back-country tours with a club leader on wilderness trails around the Avalon Peninsula. They plan social events, too, so it’s a pretty handy way to meet people that are into brisk activities.
“Go out skiing with a friend … it’s always more enjoyable when with someone!” says Cameron. “Pippy Park trailer park is a great location that is normally very busy with skiers of all levels on a nice sunny Saturday or Sunday afternoon.”
Adventuring with others is also a safety precaution. To be the safest you can be, let someone know where you’re going, and when you expect to be back. Check the ski conditions before you head out (available on Avalon Nordic’s website/twitter/Facebook). Also, GPS is great, but you can’t exactly Google Maps your way out of the back country. Ski smart, and you’ll have a whole new season to look forward to.