Category Archives: Sunday Trips

Brief blog about the latest Sunday trip

Our first season with Trakkers!

Every winter, I told myself that I should really join a ski club to enjoy the snow, but every year, I’d be too busy, it was too cold….maybe next winter…

But this past winter, I joined Trakkers Ski Club! Partly because I wasn’t able to run due to a left knee injury. And partly because I wanted to get my preteen son out more during the winter, and Trakkers is the *only* club that allows kids to go on the ski trips. He didn’t need a membership, which was even better, so if he hated it, at least there’d be no financial hit.

We loved it! I ended up buying cross country skis for myself, and then for my son, and for the first time ever, I found myself wishing it would snow! It was fun getting to know the various ski resorts, and all of the members were very welcoming and laid back.

A bonus is that lessons are included in the membership. Although I had done some cross country skiing many many (many) years ago, my son had never been on skis. After one lesson, he felt confident enough to ski, and after one outing, he said he wanted to go the following week!

The most amazing thing for me was that the knee problem I had been experiencing didn’t interfere, because cross country skiing is so low impact and emphasizes different muscles than running.  By the end of the season, my left knee was actually strong enough that I could run again, after being off it for nearly a year.

The only problem? There weren’t enough snowy weekends! So if you’re at all interested, put it on your to-do list to try this club next winter (you can try it by just paying the bus fee a couple of times before buying a membership). It’s affordable, it’s a fun way to pass the winter, and you’ll be so fit by the end of the season. We’ll be back next season!

 

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Destination Georgian Nordic

20140309-171130.jpg
Northern Landscape

Located just off Highway 400 south of Parry Sound, Georgian Nordic’s granite outcroppings and mostly coniferous forest remind visitors that they are entering Northern Ontario. The terrain is dotted with small hills and pretty little streams. Great for photos!

20140309-171910.jpg

Club Atmosphere
Some of the resorts we visit have a definite commercial style with a range of tempting services and products to spend your money on. Not here! Instead, visitors are welcomed into a comfortable, volunteer-driven enterprise which operates as a mountain biking and canoe club when there is no skiing. The roomy chalet is warmed by a wood stove and while there is no formal food service, you may find muffins and cookies available (leave your money in the box) and you can help yourself to the kettle and microwave.

Animal Theme
All the trails have animal names like Otter, Rabbit, Beaver and Cottontail. The chalet is called “Borrow”. Trail details can be found here.

Goergian trails

We are watching the weather and keeping our fingers crossed for a spring skiing trip to this special destination.

Destination Arrowhead

Arrowhead Provincial Park takes a little longer to get to than most other destinations we visit, but for many Trakkers, it is well worth it. This destination has a special, northern remote feel.

Arrowhead SignWe asked Xavier and Sylvia to share some reflections and to suggest trails for different levels of skiers.

Special Memories
“We brought friends from France a few years ago – a mum and her two children plus our daughter Alice, aged 13. They all came on the Trakkers bus. The French kids were new to cross-country skiing but had a great time falling and laughing. It was a unique, very remote experience for them and they did find it cold! Whenever we see them they still talk about their good memories of a true Canadian winter!”

Arrowhead trailTrail Choice Suggestions
“For a beginner, we suggest taking the 5k Arrowhead Lake Trail. It is lovely with many views of the pretty lake. There is one big climb and a downhill, but otherwise it is mostly flat.”

“More advanced skiers should try the Hardwood Hill Trail loop. It’s worth the climb to the upper parking lot with the charming little Mayflower Warm-up Chalet at the start and finish of the trail. This is one of our all-time favourites with rolling downhills where you can stay in the tracks for a thrill! “

Other Tips
“This is a remote location, so ski with a buddy. And don’t forget to bring snacks, water and a map with you on the trails.”

Sunday Trip – The Inside Story

For many Trakkers, a Sunday trip is an easy getaway where all you have to do is sign up by Thursday evening and show up before 9:00 am to board the bus. So simple! Members may not know how much goes on behind the scenes to make it all run so smoothly.ski busesHere’s a peek at some of what happens each week leading up to, during and after a trip along with some of the people involved.

Announce the destination
On Monday, Sunday Trips Director Katja confirms a destination. Gleb (Website Director) and Florence (Communications Director) post the information on the website and social media. The team continues to monitor weather and snow conditions, checking with resorts to see how well they can accommodate us and to make sure we go where the skiing is best. If there is a change, the new destination is posted.

Collect registrations and payments
Members register and pay through our recently automated online sign-up process.

Confirm trip details and standby seats
By Thursday evening, we know the number of registrations and how many spaces will be available for standby passengers. On Friday, Katja confirms the number of buses and destination with the bus company.

Prepare Bus Captains and Instructors
Steve (Ski School Director) lines up instructors and lesson groups. Sam (Bus Captains Director) downloads the registration lists and prepares kits for the Bus Captains. On Sunday morning, members arrive at the bus and are checked-in efficiently. Bus Captains give updates and announcements to their passengers and deal with any questions during the trip.

Reconcile payments and participants
After each trip, Christina (Treasurer), Sam and Gleb reconcile payments with participants before opening registration for the next trip.
Now that’s a team effort!

What can members do help it work well?
According to Katja, it really helps if people can sign up as early as possible. This allows the opportunity to make extra coach arrangements if need be. Payment online also really helps.

Katja, can you tell us about a Sunday trip challenge that worked out well?
“One Sunday last year we had a big decision to make about whether to proceed with our trip to Georgian Nordic near Parry Sound. The temperature in Toronto was -28. We did not cancel the trip. Upon arrival at our pick up location, we found a bus full of people who were prepared and excited about going. We checked with people on the bus about whether they were OK to proceed and the reaction was pretty much unanimously one of, hey, that’s what we’re here for. So off we went. When we arrived at the destination, the temperature was -30!

Brian and Jovana at Georgian NordicFortunately, it was not windy. People were very well-equipped with masks, hand warmers and other and warm gear. We made a pact to only ski in groups, watch for frostbite and to stop skiing if we felt it was risky. The experience built camaraderie and yielded some of the best photos of the year. Everyone’s lashes, hair and beards were frost-tipped. Trakkers were determined to have a good day, no matter what. And they did!”

 

Destination Horseshoe

Of all our regular destinations, Horseshoe is the most expansive.

Three distinct groups of trails are spread out across the Copeland Forest. Some members have discovered the out of the way collection of South trails across Horseshoe Valley Road from the Nordic Chalet. Here, you’ll find very few skiers even on the busiest days. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of some dog sledding tours near the farm loop.

Dog Sledding at HorseshoeThere are plenty of lovely flat runs perfectly suited for beginners (yellow labelled trails). People who just want to glide along enjoying nature may choose the blue trails.  Separate snowshoe trails lead to a pretty lookout.

If you think that means there’s nothing much for the ambitious skier, think again. The red expert trails have plenty of fun hills with enticing names like Heart Attack Hill, and Achey Breaky and Terry’s Test. Check out this video of a group of skiers heading down the long hill at Craiger’s Corner.

 

Destination Hardwood

Hardwood Ski and Bike is an excellent choice when snow conditions are less than ideal. It has a reputation for grooming to a very high standard, making the most of the snow available.

On arrival, one is struck by the energy of the place. This resort effectively mixes elite, competitive skiers of all ages with newcomers to the sport and families just looking for an active day in the snow.

Hardwood Hills 053

Popular Trails and Hills
Hardwood trail with fresh snowCharmingly labelled with names of Winter Olympics host cities, the trails offer choices for every level of skier. If you want a long ski with plenty of hills Lillehamer is for you. Fit beginners may like Nagano for its 8 kms of gradual hills with sections for smooth gliding in between.

Hills are one of the features Sandi likes best about Hardwood. “Rolling hills, like Hewy, Dewy and Lewy, provide some interesting moments – short but what a ride; while the good number of steep downhills, like The Eliminator and particularly The Elevator, keep the heart pumping, the knuckles white and the hair standing on end! George’s Hill, in comparison, looks quite tame but turns out to be the scariest and best of them all.”

 

Favourite Spaces
Hardwood Hills 046Hardwood has teaching and practice areas, a full service café with Wi-Fi, a fully equipped ski shop, extensive repair facilities, and a huge area dedicated to shelves for storing packs and extra gear. You can really spread out  here.

 

 

Hardwood Hills 048A new West Wing opened this year with expanded seating in a mezzanine overlooking one of the eating areas.  The carpeted floors feel good when you’re roaming around in your socks!

 

 

 


Shopping! 

Sandi is a big fan Hardwood’s store. “I often save up to hit its racks instead of buying ski clothing at a Toronto mall. A few years ago, I purchased a pair of top-of-the-line skis but they ended up being a little too long.  The following year, I mentioned this to a staffer, saying I was planning to put the skis into the ski swap. ‘No way,’ he said.  ‘We sold you those skis and helped you fit them so it’s our responsibility.’ And the Hardwood store replaced the skis with a new pair, binding and all.  That’s service!”

If you’re a Hardwood fan, you are in good company. Get Out There Magazine readers voted it the best cross-country ski facility in eastern Ontario for 6 years in a row.

 

 

 

 

Destination Wasaga Nordic

Here is Celeste’s review of Wasaga, our next destination.

Trakkers at Wasaga

Two busloads of Trakkers at Wasaga

Why would anyone wake up before 8 on a Sunday?

  1. Your house is on fire.
  2. You are the firefighter putting out a house on fire.
  3. You’re going cross country skiing with Trakkers!

This is my third year as a Trakkers member. I came once as my mum’s guest a few years back thinking ‘sounds like fun, I’ll try it out this once and sleep in all subsequent Sundays,’ and loved it so much I rarely ever miss a Sunday of skiing!

Wasagas NarniaThis week we’re going to Wasaga Beach which has beautiful long sandy beaches, lovely swimming in Lake Huron, and amazing summer fun for the whole family (or at least that’s what the website says). But did you know Wasaga is just as fun in the winter? and, in my opinion, way more beautiful! My favourite thing about skiing at Wasaga Beach Nordic is the feeling of disappearing into a magical white forest right out of a storybook. Getting onto the bus in Toronto and arriving at Wasaga is like going through the magic wardrobe into Narnia.

Wasaga High Dunes HillWasaga has plenty of tiny, twisty, trails that roll along in and out of the forest. They range from gentle, friendly trails perfect for learning and a nice relaxing afternoon ski, to REALLY steep dunes that if you are at all new, perhaps you ought to take off your skis and walk down. But if you do decide to brave the steepest hill, know that it ends in a fairly open field so there is plenty of padded snow to crash into.

IMG_1753Wasaga is the cosiest of all our destinations. Unlike most of our places, it doesn’t have a big lunch room so if your timing is off, you may literally share a chair with one of your pals at lunch – all the better to get to know other Trakkers members. Alternative spots for lunch are the nearby tiny cabin with a wood stove or a ski shelter on one of the trails. Make sure to pack your own lunch. Complete the cozy, magical setting by bringing fresh baked goods to share with me 🙂 and your red cheeked-ski pals (I especially like dark chocolate things).

One last point about Wasaga. It is a swell place to take a pile of photos as EVERYONE will be smiling and having fun. So, wake up early this Sunday and come skiing with me. (Don’t forget the chocolate banana bread!)