Winter Bliss

Gillian is a long-time cross-country skier. She recently joined Trakkers Cross-country Ski Club with her family for the simplicity offered by the bus ride. Read about their first day with Trakkers.

Do you know that feeling of being so happy in an experience… and somehow in the middle of that bliss, when nothing else matters, just wanting to break out and invite others to experience the same? Having it all is not always enough: sharing it all also matters.

My first trip as a new Trakkers member brought me that feeling, along with the fullness of having joined a community where the sharing of winter bliss is central to the values and workings of a club.

My family are long-time cross-country skiers. My mother converted me (from downhill) to the trails when she discovered cross-country, and I was 12. Since adolescence, I have skied enthusiastically with my family of origin, my (and my siblings’) next-generation families, and many friends. Still, my ski community just expanded so simply and so delightfully with joining Trakkers this past fall.

For decades, living car-free in Toronto meant that ski days depended on that occasional good dump of snow on a weekend (when we are able to enjoy our local ravine) or a weekend trip involving car rental, overnight packing and preparations (that was always worth the energy, but not repeatable at high frequency). I first found Trakkers online when the subway only opened at 9am on Sundays, and the Trakkers bus left at 9am. The subway’s fairly recent change to an 8am start changed everything in principle. This year, I finally got organized in practice. And so with my partner, and our 13 year old, I joined in on the first Trakkers Sunday trip of the 2018-19 season.

That morning bus took us to Scenic Caves resort, on a mountaintop close to Collingwood where all the trails were open and perfect, entirely heedless to the grey monotone we left behind in Toronto. To top it off, we won the lottery when I met a young grade 9 student on the bus who had been skiing with his mom through Trakkers for two years, and we hooked up with them for a full day of skiing – all five of us with similar skills, stamina, and delight!

Meanwhile, I was equally delighted to meet the many members on the bus who were not of my skill level. A total of 17 beginner and absolute beginner skiers signed up for the free lessons that day! Witnessing this showed me a whole other side to the club: how the teaching and learning of new skills is central to Trakkers culture. I also learned that there are opportunities to hone my skills and get certified to share my cross-country ski passion with the many newcomers to this lifelong sport. Trakkers’ commitment to teaching, learning and enjoyment of skiing in the woods, without any competitive focus, is unusual and inspiring.

On the way home, it was hard to contain my excitement amidst a rather quiet bus culture …but that aspect of the club did make for a very restful trip home: in the dark, many of us napping, taking full advantage of our professional driver.

Back in the city, my feelings of vigour and happiness lasted days longer than my muscle aches. I have since invited both seasoned skiers and newcomer winter enthusiasts to join us as guests on a Sunday. …And here is my more public call-out to other families with teens who, when pulled from their screens, might get into the zone: both those who already know the route to a well-earned black-diamond-downhill, and those who would aspire to it after a few lessons and a few fun Sundays in the snow.

Experience this aliveness with us on a coming weekend!

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