We’re back!

This past weekend HPSC’s cross-country crew returned with our first bus trip in almost two years! We were limited to 25 people on the bus (that will increase after Feb. 21), but that didn’t damper our fun.

Highlands Nordic had excellent conditions and welcomed us back with open arms. Thanks to them! We offered four lessons – three classic and one skate. Our classes were a bit larger than normal, but everyone was a good sport, which allowed us to accommodate as many members as possible.

There were big smiles all around, happy new members, and returning members seeing each other for the first time in a long while. Thanks to all our members for following all the COVID protocols to make sure that we can continue to run buses. We’ve got two trips on the long weekend (both sold out, but there is a waitlist) and we’ve opened Feb. 26/27 trips for registration. Feb. 26 is going to Highlands Nordic and Feb. 27 is going to a club favourite, Georgian Nordic. With increased capacity, there’s still room on both trips.

We’re going to run buses! Now what?

We finally have some good news – we feel ready to offer bus trips, but the plan looks a bit different than normal years.

The plan

On Feb. 12 (Highlands), Feb. 19 (TBC), and Feb. 20 (Horseshoe Valley), we will run with 25 members on the bus, including our instructors, guides and the bus captain (so the spots open for registration will be less than 25).

After Feb. 21, provided the provincial reopening plan remains the same, we will return to our regular schedule and increase capacity.

The schedule and important registration information can be found here.

Below find the highlights of our most important changes, and keep reading for details of how the bus trips will operate.

Highlights of important changes:

  • You must show proof of vaccination before you can register for trips. Email your proof to vac@hpsc.ca if you haven’t already.
  • You must wear a mask on the bus except if eating lunch (and we expect you to eat quickly). We VERY strongly recommend wearing an N/KN95, which are proven to protect you and others better than alternatives.
  • There are no warmup options at the resorts. At some places you can go inside to use the washroom. At others, there are portable washrooms. We will have the bus available, but it won’t be very warm as it cannot idle all day. This is the reality of skiing this year. If you do not think you will be comfortable under these circumstances, we advise that you do not come with the bus. See below for tips on coming prepared to ski under these conditions.
  • We have fewer instructors available this year due to COVID. We may not be able to accommodate all requests for lessons, especially if there are a lot of people who want to drive up for lessons. We plan to offer three classic lessons and skate lesson, if we have the instructor available. With four instructors on a trip, we can accommodate about 24-30 students.
  • There are new registration (Wednesday 6pm) and cancellation (Tuesday 8pm) deadlines.

COVID-19 policies and procedures:

  • All HPSC members must show proof of full vaccination before registering for a club trip. Please see here for the full club vaccination policy.
  • All day trip participants must be members. There will be no test drive or guest days this year.
  • Members must comply with mask policies on the bus and at the resorts. Proper cloth or medical masks must be worn and cover the nose and mouth. Buffs and improper wearing of masks will not be tolerated. We very strongly recommend wearing an N/KN95.
  • Please do not come on a trip if you are experiencing symptoms of illness, have tested positive for COVID-19, or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. In these instances, we have a more flexible cancellation policy this year.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, please inform us so that we can contact trace.
  • All members will have to fill out screening apps the morning of the trip and show it to the bus captain. The link will be in the day trip registration module. If you do not own a smart phone, do it at home and bring a printout on the bus with you.
  • Failure to adhere to club or public health rules will be considered a breach of conduct and addressed accordingly.

Registration procedures

  • All the trips will appear on the online event calendar once the modules are created. Weekend trips are open for registration on the Monday two weeks prior to the trip (except for the first trip, which will have less registration time). For example, the Feb. 20 trip will open Feb. 7 at 9am. The date a trip opens for registration will be stated on the event description. While in the past we have opened trips up further in advance, this approach will give us maximum flexibility given the uncertainty, while still allowing people to plan.
  • You can find the trips that are open for booking and the schedule here. It is subject to change. If a trip is not on the calendar, it is not yet ready. Please do not email about it.
  • Registration is done online. There are two modules for each trip that offers lessons – a bus module and a drive up module for those wanting to drive up and take lessons. If there are no lessons on a trip, only a bus module will be created.
  • If you want to take the bus, register on the bus module. Generally, you pay for the bus, trail pass, and rentals (if necessary). Please note that resorts are operating differently this year. For example, at Horseshoe you have to reserve and pay for your rentals online through the resort. All this will be detailed on the registration module – please pay close attention. You will receive email confirmation of your registration. If you do not complete payment, your registration will be deleted automatically after 15 minutes.
  • Members who wish to drive up AND take a lesson must register for the lesson on the drive up registration module. You must, however, buy your own trail pass and rentals at the resort.
  • Registration deadline is Wednesday 6pm for Saturday and Sunday trips. After this date, the trip is closed, and registration disappears from the website. All members must register in advance. There will be no walk-ons allowed this year.
  • If a trip is close to selling out, we will activate the waitlist. There are always cancellations. If you are on the waitlist and are offered a spot, you will be notified and must pay within 24 hours. Waitlist spots are held until Wednesday morning. At that point, the waitlist is cleared, and it is first come first served for any remaining spots. We find this policy is fair, while not putting undue burden on our volunteers.
  • You may at some point get a bus voucher (a voucher entitles the holder to a bus ride). You must bring the physical voucher with you on the bus, or you will be invoiced for the bus fee. No exceptions.
  • If you have any questions about your registration, contact crosscountry@hpsc.ca. Do not respond to the registration confirmation email.  

Cancellation procedures

  • The cancellation deadline is Tuesday at 8pm for Saturday and Sunday day trips.
  • You must email cancellations@hpsc.ca with the trip number (NXXXX) and the cancellation request. The cancellations team will email you a confirmation of receipt.
  • If you do not follow this procedure before the deadline, you will be considered a “no show” and will be charged for the bus ($30).
  • If you do not come because you are sick or have been in contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, you may email crosscountry@hpsc.ca within 72 hours after the trip to get a full refund. Please do not come on the trip if you are sick! If we find our no-show rate is too high (costing us too much money and depriving others of seats on the bus), we will have to re-evaluate this policy. Please do not abuse it and use it only when you are genuinely not feeling well.

Is the trip running?

  • An email will be sent to all registered participants by Friday at 12pm. Please do not email for information prior to this time. If you do not receive an email by Friday at 12pm, check your junk mail. Then check the status page on the website. You must log in to see the status page.
  • This email/the status page will contain all the information you need for the day trip, plus a link to the COVID-19 screening form that will be used for that day.
  • If we must cancel a trip, we will refund you in full. A bit of inclement weather doesn’t deter us (even rain), but if we deem it unsafe to be on the trails or roads, we may cancel. We appreciate your understanding; cancelling/changing trips is a very difficult decision for our team, and we do whatever possible to get you out skiing. In the past couple of years, we have only cancelled trips when there were extreme weather warnings for high amounts of rain/freezing rain and damaging winds.
  • Trips can also be cancelled due to insufficient registration numbers. Pre-COVID, this didn’t happen, but if not enough people are comfortable enough taking the bus, we won’t run it.
  • Sometimes resorts will have varying conditions depending on local weather. In the past we’ve been able to be flexible and find an alternate resort if conditions at the scheduled resort are poor. We may not be able to operate this way this year. Some resorts are limiting access to one group/day. Thus, we may have no option but to cancel if a resort is not available or deemed safe.

 Lessons & other programming

  • We will be offering lessons on day trips, however, due to less instructor availability (due to COVID and other factors), the amount and nature of the lessons will be scaled back. We will try to ensure all beginners get lessons. We cannot guarantee lessons to everyone who wants them.
  • We are offering guided snowshoeing on many trips. Please sign up for it in the registration modules.
  • There will be no race program.
  • There will be no social events.

Tips for a successful COVID season

  • Please seriously consider wearing N95 masks. They are proven to help protect you and others better. We need to protect ourselves if we are going to run successful trips.
  • There will be capacity limits in the chalets as the resorts, meaning we must use our bus as “home base”. We will store our bags there, get ready, eat lunch etc. Be prepared to spend more time outside than normal. It is up to you to determine if you can handle this given the temperatures.
  • Come prepared with enough warm clothing considering the lack of indoor space. More is better than less.
  • We recommend that you ski with a small backpack that contains extra warm clothing (a dry base layer, warmer mitts, dry socks etc.), snacks, and water.
  • Patience. Everything is going to take longer. Our volunteers are learning new procedures. Please have patience!

Conditions update, January 24

Conditions continue to be great throughout the region! If you can, take advantage of it.

Members have been to many resorts over the past week. Hardwood is excellent as usual and less hard packed after more snow fell. Horseshoe also looks excellent, although the #8 (or the North Red, as many of us know it from the old days) hasn’t been groomed even though the website said it had been. That’s annoying as it’s a tough, longer trail. One member who went to Mansfield reports that they’ve got in a classic track and it was pretty good with just a few thin spots here and there. A couple members went to Albion and loved it. While conditions can be spotty if new snow hasn’t fallen, it is a lovely place we highly recommend. Mono Nordic looks like it’s got much better conditions.

There are snow squall watches out for Barrie today, so maybe more snow on the way.

Be sure to check the websites for conditions before you go to the resort:

Hardwood

Horseshoe (tip: Horseshoe is notorious for not reporting accurately. If you want to go, check Hardwood. If Hardwood is reporting sketchy conditions, you know that Horseshoe will be worse)

Scenic Caves

Highlands

Wasaga, Arrowhead and other provincial parks

Albion Hills

Mono Nordic

Mansfield

Conditions update: January 18, 2022

After that snow dump, my report is short: conditions everywhere should be very excellent! Especially for classic. Even for places closer to the city (Mono, Mansfield, Albion, which is opening Jan. 18). Temps are supposed to rise a bit Wednesday and then drop again. A few more days of grooming should consolidate the bases and make for excellent skiing for both classic and skate on the weekend.

Members have also been having lots of fun skiing and snowshoeing in the city after 30cm of snow fell. Get out and play in the snow!

Hardwood

Horseshoe (tip: Horseshoe is notorious for not reporting accurately. If you want to go, check Hardwood. If Hardwood is reporting sketchy conditions, you know that Horseshoe will be worse)

Scenic Caves

Highlands

Wasaga, Arrowhead and other provincial parks

Albion Hills

Mono Nordic

Mansfield

Conditions update: January 12, 2022

While we can’t run buses, we know that members will be getting out on the trails themselves if they are able. Someone requested that I do a conditions update so members know where the best conditions are in a particular week. This is the first installment! I will be covering the resorts we generally visit around Barrie and Collingwood, and a couple closer to the city. This is not an exhaustive list.

Scenic Caves has the best conditions with a 30cm base. Highlands reports an 8cm base with track in, a little thin on the Back Red and Hawberry, but I expect the main trails are in great shape. Hardwood and Horseshoe have about 15cm base depths and good conditions, although they still need more snow to build up those bases. They were just able to put in a decent track this week. Wasaga is apparently open with track set and reporting good conditions, although looks like a thinner base (10cm). Closer to the city, Albion is still closed and Mono has skiable coverage, but no track. Probably decent for skating. Mansfield is open but the trails are ungroomed. You are welcome to ski on the trails if you want.

More snow overall not likely to come until next week, so conditions not likely to improve until then. Will be very cold Friday/Saturday. Be careful of those fingers and toes if you venture out Saturday am in particular.

Check back early next week for the next installment!

Before you ski, check out the conditions on the resort websites:

Hardwood

Horseshoe (tip: Horseshoe is notorious for not reporting accurately. If you want to go, check Hardwood. If Hardwood is reporting sketchy conditions, you know that Horseshoe will be worse)

Scenic Caves

Highlands

Wasaga, Arrowhead and other provincial parks

Albion Hills

Mono Nordic

Mansfield

Dec. 29 Scenic Caves Trip Canceled

Unfortunately we have had to cancel our Dec. 29th trip to Scenic Caves. Unforeseen operational issues combined with the lack of winter make it impossible to run the trip.

The first trip is still tentatively scheduled for Jan. 2. Keep an eye here, on the website and on our social media channels for updates.

Cross-country day trips, COVID style (December update)

As we get closer to the season, I am sure that everyone has questions about what the experience on the bus and at the resorts is going to be…here are some answers! We encourage new members to read this carefully. The experience will not be what we are used to, but with some patience and good humour, we can have fun.

What can I expect on the bus?

As of now, the buses will run at almost full capacity. Masks (cloth or medical masks) are mandatory. A buff is not a mask. Proper masks must cover the nose and the mouth. Not wearing masks properly will not be tolerated. Please note that studies show that medical masks (especially N95s, which are more widely available now) are more effective than cloth masks with no filter. While we will not dictate what kind of masks members should wear, we strongly encourage members to choose the most effective masks they can. This keeps all of us safe.

While the bus is in motion, we expect members to stay in their seats (except for quick washroom trips). We ask that members don’t eat or drink (except quick sips if medically necessary). No sharing of food and no consuming alcohol.

At most places, we will have to eat lunch on the bus or on the trail. When on the bus for lunch, please ensure you eat lunch quickly to limit the amount of time that you are not wearing a mask.

There will not be any capacity limits enforced at any point unless we feel it is necessary after the first few trips. We are confident that members will be courteous of each other and work hard to make our trips a success.

What can I expect at the resorts?

Members are expected to follow all resort rules, which will be communicated on the registration modules and in the day trip status email/webpage.

Resorts all have different policies, but in general, we will not be able to store bags/get ready/hang out in the chalet like we normally do. You will be able to use the indoor washrooms (only Wasaga will have portable washrooms). You will be able to pop in for quick spells to warm up (emphasis on quick; Wasaga, Georgian Nordic, Kawartha are exceptions in that we anticipate no indoor space). If you want indoor space to eat, you usually will have to use the bus (Scenic Caves is the only exception). The bus cannot idle all day, so it may not be very warm, but it will be out of the wind.

Because you will be spending significant amounts of time outside this year, we recommend that you bring a small day pack filled with items to help keep you warm should you have to wait outside while not skiing. While everyone is different, this could include extra gloves/mitts (really warm ones!), a dry top base layer (maybe something thicker than what you ski in to keep you warmer), an extra pair of socks, and a down jacket that folds up small (a great investment in the winter). Pack water and extra snacks – a hydrated and fueled body is a warmer body!

At the end of the day, you may not be able to get fully changed like you are used to. Bring a dry top and dry socks and ensure a warm parka is on the bus waiting for you. Departure times are generally (with some exceptions) going to be earlier to account for the increased time spent outside.

The caveat…

Policies and procedures were set before Omicron was identified. We are watching the public health situation closely over the next couple weeks and may alter our policies and procedures in accordance with public health guidelines.

Please note that the Dec. 29th trip has been cancelled (largely due to the slow arrival of winter). We will tentatively start our season on Jan. 2. Keep an eye on the website and our social media channels for updates. That trip would open for registration on Dec. 20.

Cross-country day trips begin Dec. 29!

Your cross-country ski and snowshoe team is excited to announce that the first trip of the season will be a rare mid-week trip for us – Wed., Dec. 29 to Scenic Caves! Since Christmas and New Year’s both fall on weekends, we couldn’t schedule our regular New Year’s celebration on the weekend. So we’re trying something new!

Are you off work in between Christmas and New Year’s? Get in a ski on what we hope will be relatively quiet midweek trails. Ring in a new year with friends and enjoy the first HPSC trip back in nearly two years!

We will have access to the log cabin and the adjacent washrooms. There is no food, so bring your own. You may want to bring a ski pack with some extra food and warm, dry clothing. There are rentals.

No lessons on this trip – let’s just get our ski legs back!

Registration opens Dec. 15th.

Cross-country schedule online + registration procedure changes

As we get ever closer to the ski season (where did that lovely snow go?!), the cross-country ski and snowshoe team has posted it’s schedule on the website (in the season update). The schedule is subject to change as we work with the resorts to make this season a reality!

Regular members will notice a change to how our registration process will work this year. Normally we load the registration modules for all the trips at the start of the season and members can register for trips far into the season. This year, we are not doing that. Given the uncertainty surrounding COVID, we need the ability to remain flexible and mitigate losses should we have to cancel trips. Therefore, trips will open for registration TWO WEEKS in advance, generally on Monday at 9am.

For the first few weeks of the season, this means:

Dec. 29th (Scenic Caves, no lessons) – opens Dec. 15.

Jan. 2 (Scenic Caves, beginner lessons only, guided snowshoeing) – opens Dec. 20

Jan. 8 (Highlands)/Jan. 9 (Hardwood TBC) (both offer lessons and guided snowshoeing) – opens Dec. 27

Due to restrictions at the resort, we are limiting trips to one bus. If the trip is full when you want to book, put yourself on the waitlist. There are always cancellations and many people get on trips if they put they put themselves on the waitlist.

There are no walk ons this year. If you want to come ski with us, please register.

Cross-Country 101 Virtual Session

Have you joined the club and are interested in cross-country skiing? Never skied before? It’s been a long time? This is the session for you!

We are offering a virtual session for new (and returning) members to get you primed for the ski season. Heather Steel, Cross-Country Ski and Snowshoe Director, will cover all the basics of skiing (types of skiing, gear, wax, clothing etc.), how the club works (registration for trips, bus procedures etc.) and answer all your questions.

Date: Nov. 22

Time: 7pm

Register: HPSC – Cross-Country Skiing 101: Sliding on Skinny Skis

Session will be limited to 100 people. Must be registered members of HPSC. We will send a zoom link the day before the session.