While conditions have improved in the last week, this season has been one of the toughest starts to a cross country ski season in the past twenty years at the Kelowna Nordic ski trails.
After a solid opening with some early snow, warm and windy conditions melted much of the base in the lower regions at the Nordic ski and snowshoe trails, east of Kelowna, forcing the club to close for 10 days earlier this month.
But president Ryland Garton says conditions have improved and allowed the club to re-open.
“All three of our entrances are open now it’s just that you have to be careful in the lower regions,” said Garton. “We’ve had this about three times in the past twenty years where we had a good snow cover and then it got warm and the rain came in.”
That rain, in combination with a warm wind, eliminated the lower level base at Kelowna Nordic and forced the closure in mid December. However Garton says they have had a good amount of snow in the past week and conditions have improved.
“We’ve had 25 centimetres in the last two snow dumps but we were back to starting from nothing,” he said, noting that recent years have seen great conditions at the club. “The last three years people have been spoiled because we got early snow in November and lots of it and it stayed and people looked at that as a normal year.”
With a lack of snow around the groomer storage area at the lower elevations, Garton was limited in the amount of grooming he could do. Downed trees from the wind and debris from logging in the area made it even more difficult. Now though the snow levels have improved to where grooming can once again take place, although Garton has been grooming sparingly to allow the snow to accumulate.
“Conditions are still good,” he said. “As long as people are prepared to take their time and go carefully on the low areas. Once you are away from the cabin, the conditions get better.”
The Kelowna Nordic club has a membership of close to 500 people, who pay $110 per season for cross country skiing and less for a snowshoe membership.
Drop in rates of $10 for skiing and $5 for snowshoeing apply and are taken on the honour system in drop boxes although Garton says only about 65 per cent of the users leave the money in the drop box.
The club has about 70 kilometres of cross country ski trails and 75 kilometres of snowshoe trails and more information and updated conditions are available at kelownanordic.com.