Plenty of snow is usually a good thing for the Larch Hills cross-country ski trails, but January’s snowfall and the accompanying downed trees has been a challenge for those who maintain the area.
“It’s been really difficult,” said Larch Hills Nordic Society president Ed Bouma. “I would say we’ve probably removed between 700 and 800 trees so far, and they’re still coming down.”
Bouma says it won’t be until the summer when trees downed on some of the trails that aren’t trackset can be removed.
Volunteers with the necessary experience have been assisting with the tree removal – a job that is not without risk. For example, while two people were cutting up two trees near one another on Larch Hills Road, another tree fell between them.
“When that happened, we were warning everybody, make sure you’re aware of your surroundings, look around, don’t be having a lunch underneath a leaning tree and all that kind of stuff,” said Bouma.
As for the snow itself, depth measurements for the ski area dating back to 2007 show January 2020 to be a record month. As of Jan. 9, the area around Cec’s Cabin had received 133 centimetres of snow, the summit 142 cm, the south hub 123 cm and the parking lot 99 cm. The last year measurements approached those numbers in January was in 2009, when Cec’s Cabin received 114 cm, the summit 137 cm, the south hub 89 cm, and the parking lot 71 cm.
“When you go up to the south hub and ski up to Cec’s… It’s like a wall of snow up there,” said Bouma. “On each side of Larch Hills Road, it’s like 50to 60 feet of snow. It’s so heavy on the trees it almost forms like a wall. You’ve never seen anything like it.”
The snow and downed trees had Larch Hills volunteers scrambling to get the trails ready for the first of the Teck Cup BC series event, Jan. 4-5. Bouma said the trails will be ready to go for the 36th annual Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet on Saturday, Jan. 25.
“The snow right now is fantastic,” said Bouma, pointing out the silver lining to the recent snowfall. “Because there’s a lot of it and it’s fairly fresh snow, it’s really nice to ski in.”