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!
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
The winter will be here before we know it! If you want to buy gear rather than rent, you may want to think about it sooner rather than later. Last year, cross-country ski gear flew off the shelves as people sought safe ways to enjoy winter outside. While demand may not be at the same level (especially if downhill is open and some indoor fun returns), I still expect it to be high. October is usually when new stock arrives. So, where can you buy gear?
Velotique – a bike and ski shop in the east end. They are probably the most knowledgeable about skis in the city. My top recommendation for a city retailer.
MEC – we all know MEC. I don’t find the staff is as knowledgeable anymore, but if you know what you want, it’s a great option.
Skiis and Bikes – I think they sell cross-country equipment? It’s been a while since I’ve been in the store. But you can give them a try too.
If you can get out to Hardwood or Highlands Nordic, both have top notch pro shops with excellent staff who can fit you right. My top choice because I trust them.
Call the resorts to find out their shopping policies. You may still have to book appointments this year.
Hardwood, Highlands and sometimes Velotique host ski swaps where you buy used equipment (or take your equipment to be sold). If we receive information about ski swaps, we will share on the blog and on the Facebook group. These generally happen in October and November.
I hope everyone was able to have a great summer under the circumstances. Great weather to spend lots of time outdoors.
The HPSC board is planning for the winter. We hope to be able to ski and snowshoe with you all this year! I missed everyone last winter. I know that everyone must have lots of questions about what the year will look like. Trust me…so do I! Given the public health situation changes constantly, it’s tough to plan. We will be implementing policies that are in line public health guidelines, but it is not clear what those guidelines will be yet. But here are a few things that you can probably expect on the cross-country side this winter.
Keeping the fun on the snow
While HPSC is known for our fun day trip social events (bus potlucks, socials at the resort etc.), we will be keeping our fun strictly outside on the snow this year. This year isn’t the time to start sharing food. But, we will have lessons and guided snowshoeing, as usual. We are also introducing a new afternoon guided ski option for beginners on select day trips (especially in January). Volunteers will lead a group ski for beginners, allowing new skiers to learn the trails better and meet more people at their ski level.
Improve your ski skills
For those wanting to hone their skills – or learn some! – we will be offering lessons with our great group of certified instructors. Normally our lessons are small groups (about 6/class) and it is easy to distance on cross-country skis. We hope to be able to run normal lesson programming this year. Only the indoor components will likely change – probably no eating lunch with your class and no video analysis (at least indoors). We also will likely stagger the lesson start and end times so as to alleviate congestion on the bus at lunch.
Get comfortable outside
While we don’t know what the indoor distancing guidelines will be this winter, the resorts have said that there likely will not be much indoor access again. Plan to spend more time outside than usual (you may want to travel with a small pack with snacks and extra clothing, as I suggested last year). We will work with the bus company to have the bus as our home base. What that looks like exactly is still being worked out.
Speaking of the bus…
With our mandatory vaccination policy, we are comfortable running buses this year. What the experience on the bus looks like, however, is still being worked out. Masking is likely to be required, and we would likely ask members to refrain from eating and drinking and walking around the bus to socialize. We all will also need a healthy dose of patience, as we all will likely need to get ready on the bus.
Once our policies are worked out, we will be communicating them to the membership through the website, this blog, and SnoBiz. We appreciate your patience as we work hard to plan a great season. We will update members as soon as new information becomes available.
With stay at home orders and lockdown restrictions, we’ve got to get creative this year if we want to ski. Luckily, cross-country skiing requires nothing more than some gear, snow, and a sense of adventure. Yes, you can ski in the city!
You won’t find groomed trails in Toronto, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ski. When we get enough snow (think a solid 5-10cm for most people), dig out your skis and head for your local park, Toronto city-owned golf courses (if not in Toronto, be sure to check your municipality’s rules), or anywhere that isn’t private property and has snow.
I’ve been skiing in Toronto for years. Every year I notice more and more people doing it, but this year the pandemic has definitely encouraged more people to try out urban skiing. I stick mostly to High Park and the Sunnyside boardwalk (as it’s my local area), but other popular ski areas include the Toronto Islands (you’ll have to take the ferry over), the Leslie St. Split, the boardwalk at the Beach, Sunnybrook Park and the Don Valley, and along the Humber River. I’m sure there are many more local parks that are great for skiing that I simply don’t know about. Get out and explore your local neighbourhood. Even a small local park can be fun for a little ski time. If you live in the northern GTA, you’re lucky to have access to conservation areas and forests (still won’t be groomed though).
Years of urban skiing has taught me a few things…
Don’t expect it to be like skiing on groomed trails. If there’s a lot of snow, it will be a slow trudge through it (honestly, I often think snowshoes would be the better option). If it’s harder packed, you’ll notice your balance is tougher to maintain. Embrace it for what it is!
I recommend using an old pair of skis in case they get scratched up (and in my experience, they will, especially if you are like me and ski on some questionable snow). If you only have one pair of good skis, maybe save your urban ski adventures for when we get a big dump.
Generally stick to fields/grass unless we get a lot of snow – then you may be able to ski on the paths/roads.
Dogs hate skis. Expect to be barked at and chased.
We just got a lovely snowfall with more on the way. So get out and ski in your local area and share your fun with your fellow club members in our Facebook group!