Drive ups and cross-country day trips

We are making every effort to run our buses this season if public health guidelines allow us to do so safely. The bus experience has always been the cornerstone of our club – the bus is a space for furthering the friendships made on the snow. Plus, you get to sleep after a hard day on the trails.

But, this year is different. We understand that some members are hesitant to take the bus, but still want to take advantage of the lessons the club offers.

If you take a lesson, you too can learn advanced ski maneuvers like this.

If you want to drive up and take lessons this season, there are some things you need to know…

Members on the bus will get priority

Because bus members will be outside all day (i.e., they will not have a private car in which to take refuge), they – particularly beginners – will receive priority for lessons. Drive up members may sign up for lessons and we will let you know on the Friday prior to the trip if there is a spot for you. Our ski school will have fewer instructors this year and we must follow strict guidelines to keep our members safe. This means we just don’t have the capacity to offer lessons on the same scale as in the past.

You must register online for your lesson

Lessons in a winter wonderland at Scenic Caves.

You will now register for the trip online just like bus participants. Look at the calendar and find the trip you want. You will see two modules for every trip – a bus module and a drive up module. Choose the drive up module and follow the instructions to register for your lesson.

You must still buy your own trail pass and rentals at the resort

Unfortunately, we are unable to process payment for your trail pass and rentals. Please arrive at the resort early enough to take care of that before the lesson.

Sometimes we take away your equipment!

Meet the club at the resort and join your lesson

If there is a spot for you in a lesson, we will let you know on Friday. We will also let you know where and when to meet. Generally we meet in front of the chalet 30 minutes after the bus arrives (usually 1030-11am depending on the location).

You must complete the COVID-19 screener BEFORE you join the lesson

By registering for a lesson, you agree to follow all of HPSC’s COVID-19 policies and procedures. On the morning of the trip, before joining the lesson, you must complete the COVID-19 screener (the link will be in the trip status email). The instructor will confirm that you have completed it. If you haven’t, you may not join the lesson. If we discover that you incorrectly told us that you did, you will be considered in contravention of our policies and serious consequences may follow.

What if I want to drive up, but I don’t want lessons?

If you want to drive up and meet your HPSC friends for a ski day (even if you are not a member), that’s fine. Look at the schedule to see where we’re going and just meet us there. You do not register online as you have to pay for your own trail pass and rentals at the resort.

However, we request that if you are experiencing symptoms of illness, please do not interact with HPSC members (it’s best to stay home!). If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 and have skied with HPSC members, we request that you email with a list of people that you skied with so that we can contact trace appropriately. Thanks in advance for considering the safety of our club.

If you have any questions about driving up, please email

Instructor Heather with a couple consistent drive up members in winter 2020. Hope to see you – physically distanced, of course – this year!

Working together to make our XC season happen!

Still hoping for snow over here! In the meantime, I want to make sure our members are prepared for what this ski season will bring the club. Lots of things will remain the same – good friends, lots of laughs, high quality lessons (including beginner lessons). But, there are some things that are going to look a little different this year, and we all – the board/volunteers, members, and resorts – need to work together to make it a success.

These babies are going in my pack!

First, we’ll be hanging out outside most of the time. Good thing us cross-country skiers and snowshoers are tough! All the resorts will have restricted access to indoor facilities in order to adhere to physical distancing guidelines. To compensate, we will have the bus open for lunch (with physical distancing rules in place). We also highly recommend that you bring a small pack to ski with. In your pack, you can bring extra snacks (or lunch, if it’s warm enough to eat on the trails), water, maybe a small thermos with warm liquid, and extra layers (I’ll be bringing my down coat, extra socks, and my big puffy pink mittens that keep me warm no matter the temperature!). There will be limited food options, so we suggest you always bring your lunch this year. We will also be getting ready on the bus and storing our personal items on the bus. Some of you already do this, so it won’t be a major change. For others (like me!), it will be.

Second, members need to be very careful when registering. Due to changes in the procedures we have to follow at the resorts, we cannot allow members to make changes to their registration options on the bus this year. Be careful not to make any mistakes; if you do contact to rectify by Thursday 6pm before the trip (the trip registration deadline). If you have to make changes after that, you are responsible for doing so at the resort and will incur any extra costs.

Third, we’re all going to need a big dose of patience this year! Everything – loading and unloading the bus, getting the tickets, getting our rentals, organizing lessons – is simply going to take more time this year due to physical distancing guidelines. But if we all have some extra patience and understanding, treat each other with kindness and respect, and work together, I am confident we can make this a safe and successful ski season.

Looking forward to the day when we can be within 6 feet of each other. Until then, patience!

Remember – wear your masks, practice physical distancing, and wash your hands!

Cross-Country ski and snowshoe schedule online

Although summer seems to have returned to Southern Ontario, HPSC has winter on the mind!

If you are interested in where we are cross-country skiing and snowshoeing the year, the provisional schedule is now available on the website. Please note that dates and locations are subject to change as we continue to work with the resorts to confirm plans for this winter.

All resorts offer rentals and have wonderful ski and snowshoe trails. We will, as usual, offer lessons on every trip, unless otherwise noted (at the start and the end of the season). While we may not be able to offer our lessons series this year, there will be beginner lessons offered on every trip. If you need to learn to ski, we will teach you!

Stayed tuned to the website for changes!

Just a reminder of the magic of winter! March 31, 2019 at Hardwood Hills. All it takes is colder temps and good dump of snow!

First snow…

Was I ever excited to wake up to a thin blanket of snow this morning. Not enough for a ski in the park, but I had an awesome trail run!

We are getting ever closer to ski season. While the board is busy firming up our policies and procedures for this coming season, there’s lots that you can do to prepare for the ski season.

We are still running Ski Fit! This is a great way to get some exercise in High Park with your fellow members. Remember that this year you need to register on the website to participate. There are limited spots.

If you aren’t coming to Ski Fit, still get outdoors for consistent exercise so you are fit come ski season. Run, walk, hike, bike…whatever makes you happy! There is also cross-country ski specific training I covered in a post from last year. Don’t let a blustery November slow you down. It’s one of my favourite times of the year to run.

Finally, it’s time to think about making yourself – and consequently your ski community – safe for the winter. As cases increase, particularly in hot spots like the GTA, public health experts recommend that we decrease our close social contacts to keep the spread down and our communities safe. This is particularly important as the holiday season approaches. As difficult as it is, we know that prolonged, un-masked indoor social contact spreads the virus. If we want our ski season to run, let us, as the HPSC community, commit to keeping ourselves out of high risk situations. If we all follow public health guidelines to the best of our abilities and circumstances, we can keep each other safe and hopefully ski and snowshoe all winter long.

This bout of snow will disappear, but winter will arrive in full force soon. Do your snow dances and keep yourselves and your loved ones safe!

Classic vs. Skate: What’s the difference and what do I choose?

If you’re new to cross-country skiing, you may not know that there are two different styles of skiing – classic skiing and skate skiing.

Classic skiing is the original form of cross-country skiing. Skiers ski in preset tracks made by groomers using a technique we call diagonal stride to propel themselves forward. With the skis in the track, the skier puts their weight on one ski, pushes off, and glides on the other ski. Then repeat! (This is a super simplified technique explanation). Most people will start their cross-country ski careers in classic. While classic technique is actually difficult to master and perform efficiently, it is relatively easy to get moving on the trails and takes perhaps a little less fitness to do so.

Instructor Regina works on her diagonal stride during an instructor training session.
HPSC member Natalie gave skate skiing a try last winter!

Skate skiing emerged as a newer technique. Done outside of the classic tracks, it resembles an ice skating motion (hence the name) with the skier pushing off the skis laterally to propel themselves forward. When done well, it’s fun and fast! There is, however, arguably a steeper learning curve to skating; while it varies between individuals, generally it takes people longer to get functionally moving with skate skis. And it can be exhausting at first. But if you stick with it, it becomes lots of fun, and less tiring as your technique improves.

The skis, boots, and poles are different for each. Classic skis are longer than skate skis, and classic poles are shorter than skate poles. Skate boots have more ankle support than classic boots. Skate gear tends to be more expensive to rent.

Conditions will dictate which technique will be more fun on any given day. I love classic skiing when there’s lots of fresh snow, or it’s a perfect blue wax day with fresh track. If you only skate ski, you’ll miss out on the beautiful classic-only trails Ontario has to offer. On a harder packed, or icy, day, give me skate skiing! That’s when you can really fly. Temperature can also play a critical role; if it’s really cold, skate skiing is going to be a slog.

HPSC offers lessons in both techniques! Learning both will open up a whole new world of skiing.

If you only skate ski, you miss out on fun adventures like this! (Orford, QC 2019)

Cross-country ski/snowshoe 2020-21 season update

We are currently planning the best we can for our season given COVID-19. To make the experience as safe as we can for members, we anticipate the following policies will be in place:

We are committed to running buses provided we can do so in accordance with public health guidelines. If they run, we will have reduced bus capacity (approximately 30 people) and one bus/trip (meaning trips are limited to 30 bus spots). Mandatory cloth or disposable masks (worn properly, covering both the mouth and nose) in all indoor spaces (bus and resort). NO EXCEPTIONS. We have confirmed that almost all of our resorts will accept bus groups this year (except Wasaga).

Friends at Georgian Nordic! Let’s repeat, just 6ft apart.

We will ask our members to commit to spending as little time inside resorts as possible. The bus will be an indoor lunch spot option. But not a social lunch – no more than a certain number of members on a time and please eat quickly and leave. We recommend bringing a pack to ski with that has food and extra clothing. If not too cold, eat on the trails. It will definitely be a different experience this year! Think of yourself as a backcountry explorer.

We will leave the resorts a bit earlier, at 4pm, to reduce the amount of waiting time at the end of the day.

Ski school is committed to providing lessons, although we may have to scale down our offerings in the interest of adhering to public health guidelines to keep everyone safe as well as based on our instructor availability. Luckily our classes are usually small and physical distancing when teaching isn’t a problem.

Drive up members will have to register online for lessons, and will be responsible for purchasing their own trail passes and rentals.

Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available. The board of directors is working hard to formalize our policies and will release them at the beginning of December. We ask for your patience as the situation is very fluid.

We are excited to get out skiing! Keep healthy and safe in the meantime.


Heather Steel, Director, Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing

HPSC at Horseshoe Resort 2020

Enjoy a XC ski/snowshoe stay-cation with HPSC

The XC team is pleased to announce that our Family Day long weekend adventure is booked! Trip W6 will be heading up to Hunstville for three days with options to ski and snowshoe in three different places: Arrowhead (one of our favourites!), the trails near the West Gate of Algonquin Park (Fen Lake for groomed trails and Minnesing Trail for backcountry skiing), and the Frost Centre in the Algonquin Highlands. This will be a self-drive trip, car-pooling with those in your bubble.

The cost for this trip is $310 for three nights, double occupancy; the single supplement is $305. We will be staying at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Huntsville – Muskoka. The rooms come with a fridge and microwave, so you can bring much of your own food if you want. We are hoping to offer instruction for beginners and perhaps guided snowshoeing, but this is not yet confirmed. Trip sign ups start on Thursday, October 29th at 8:00 pm.

A little about the ski and snowshoe locations! The Frost Centre has 22 km of trails at all levels, plus backcountry trails. Facilities include two on-trail, self-serve warm-up cabins (equipped with wood stoves), washrooms, outdoor toilets and parking; we are confirming that these facilities will be available in 2021. Arrowhead Provincial Park we know and love, but may not get to this year as a day trip. Arrowhead has an extensive set of classic and skate trails as well as snowshoe trails, some lovely classic-only ungroomed trails, and warm up buildings (note, these may not be available this year). The Fen Lake Ski Trail is located at the West Gate of Algonquin Park. It offers four loops from 1 to 18km with both easy and more challenging sections. All trails are groomed and trackset. A shelter and toilets are located at the beginning of the trail and at Fen Lake. Alternatively, the Minnesing Trail (23 km from the West Gate) has four loops ranging from 6 to 32 kilometres. The trail is maintained for backcountry wilderness skiing and is not groomed. Snowshoes are permitted on this trail.

Last year’s Family Day trip in Sault Ste. Marie was a blast. Let’s make it a great one this year!

Ski swap season is almost here

A couple of our favourite resorts are holding their annual ski swaps this year, but have modified procedures to comply with physical distancing rules. Plan early if you want to attend.

If you need equipment, look at Hardwood Hills and Highlands Nordic. While the equipment is second hand, they know their stuff and can help fit you.

(We do not have any affiliation with these swaps; if you have questions, please contact the resorts directly).

XC Ski Season 2020/21: An Update

While we won’t be racing this year, we still can have fun on the trails! Photo: Michael Connor.

Dear XC Ski and Snowshoe Members,

I hope you have had a wonderful summer. I’m sure there is still lots of sun and heat to enjoy.

The board has been hard at work all summer planning our upcoming ski season – made especially challenging, as you know, by COVID-19.

Membership for the club is now open (as of Sept. 1). I know that many of you are probably unsure about signing up when there are so many unknowns. I hope that this update will provide a little more clarity about what is (likely) to come.

First, our membership fee is set at $140. You can sign up and if you don’t use your membership (i.e., sign up for a long trip or day trip, take a lesson) by the end of January and you don’t want to use your membership the rest of the year, you can email us ( by 11:59pm on February 1st to get it deferred to the following season. Doing this will not affect your quest towards a 25-year membership.

Second, while I don’t have a crystal ball, I think the following is the most likely scenario for our XC season: we will run one bus/trip at reduced capacity (likely around 30 members). We have no idea what demand for the buses will be, but we anticipate less demand. If there is enough , we will try our best to run trips on Saturday and Sunday. If there is not enough demand for that, we will reduce to one trip a weekend, alternating Saturdays and Sundays. Members can drive up to meet the bus and take lessons (for which you will have to sign up online so we can plan). If there is not enough interest to run the bus at all, we may consider organizing a drive up season. We would offer lessons at the resort, but instructors and members would be responsible for getting there on their own. You would need to be a club member to get lessons, and this is contingent on our Ski School being willing to participate.

Third, we are discussing a number of safety policies, including:

We can still toast marshmallows!
We just need to be a little further apart…

Masks (on the bus and inside the resort)

Reduced capacity on the bus (see above)

Bus safety policies (cleaning after arrival and after lunch, boarding procedures)

Limiting indoor time as much as possible (bus open for lunch to limit resort time)

New bus and resort procedures (e.g., no walking around the bus visiting with friends, staggering lessons so everyone isn’t returning for lunch at the same time)

No social events (i.e., no potlucks, wine and cheese etc…sorry!)

No race program (no programs that encourage large gatherings)

These policies are not yet official and may change as I communicate with the resorts and work with the XC team to create as safe an environment as we possibly can. Our focus will be getting out to ski and take lessons, having fun together, physically distanced of course, on the trails.

While we are doing what we can to minimize the risk, we cannot completely eliminate the risk. Members will have to do their own personal risk assessments. If you decide the risk is too much for you, we wish you a wonderful winter and will welcome you back to the club with open arms when you feel it is safe.

Stay tuned for more information! We ask for your patience as we and the resorts are figuring this out as we go. It may take some time to figure out all the specifics.


Heather Steel

Director, Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing

Costume skiing is pandemic approved…just 6ft apart!

Next season planning

As summer swings into high gear, I wanted to take this opportunity to assure our XC ski and snowshoe members that we are planning the best we can for next season.

The situation with COVID-19 is very fluid, and we are exploring a number of different possibilities for running trips in a COVID-19 environment. We may not have answers soon, but rest assured we are doing our best to make a ski season – in some form – happen if at all possible.

We will keep our members informed of developments the best we can. In the meantime, enjoy the summer!


Heather Steel

Director, Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing