Trakkers offers free lessons to members and guests. Lessons range from absolute beginners to advanced skiers, for classic skiing and skating. CANSI (Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructors) certified instructors provide lessons on Sunday Trips. Sylvia has been an instructor for many year and tell about her latest Beginner Hill Lesson.
Sunday, January 20 was a cold day for Trakkers who headed to Hardwood Hills Ski and Bike. I was happy to have five keen students for my Beginner Hill Lesson despite the -34° wind chill!
Because everyone was at different levels, we started on a very small hill. Getting the right body stance was important to practise to build confidence. We gradually moved to snowplows. We didn’t move to higher hill until everyone was comfortable.
The benefit of having a lesson dedicated to hills is there is plenty of time to practise.
Some highlights were:
learning herring bone technique to get up the hill
body position and straight run
snowplow turns to manage turns on trails
In addition to the many skills learned, we all managed to stay warm for the 75-minute lesson!
The special moment came when everyone skied snow plow and snowplow turn on a higher hill. Applause and cheers rang out for an absolute beginner who clearly made the most progress.
If you’re hesitant on hills, sign up for the Beginner Hill lesson. With the guidance of your instructor, working at your comfort level and having lots of time to practise you will feel the difference!
Niki has been a Trakkers member for a number of years and is a first-time bus captain volunteer!
After years of participating in events and Sunday ski trips, I decided to try my hand at contributing to Trakkers Ski Club through bus captaining duties. The January 6th Sunday ski trip was my first go at the role so I decided to make a post-ski treat for everyone on my bus pre-post-ski-nap. I ended up making a nice healthy no-bake energy ball recipe. I can’t take credit for the recipe though, that entirely goes to Dinner Mom. For all those who asked, here is the recipe below:
Chocolate Date Balls are sweetened with medjool date paste so they’re free from refined sugar. Easy, no-bake, vegan recipe with just 6 ingredients! Total Time: 15 mins Servings: 224 balls Calories: 74kcal
8 medjool dates pits removed
1 cup uncooked old fashioned oatmeal
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup almond butter or your favorite nut butter
Fill a glass container with very hot water. (I heat about 2 cups in the microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes.)
Add dates to water, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 5-10 minutes. This softens the dates and makes them easier to puree. It’s not necessary if the dates are very soft.
Remove dates from water and place in a small food processor along with 1 Tablespoon of water that the dates soaked in.
Pulse until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add additional water to thin the consistency of the paste, if desired.
Set date “paste” aside.
Combine oatmeal, cocoa powder and coconut flakes in a medium sized bowl.
Add date paste, vanilla extract and almond butter to the dry mixture.
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!
Stefan and Vera arrived from Germany a few months ago, with their two children. They became members of Trakkers Ski Club to experience a local winter outdoors activity. Read about their first adventure with the club as they participated in the Sunday trip of December 16.
Absolute cross-country beginners, brand-new with Trakkers, and just a few months into Canada: Saturday evening, we scratched our heads whether we had every form filled correctly (we didn’t), all the gear ready (mostly), and enough food stocked up to survive Canadian winter (just so).
What a brilliant experience this was – for all four of us!
Finding the bus was no problem at all. Getting the kids out of bed on a Sunday morning may still need some practice. The bus ride itself was a breeze with a few friendly chats along the way. I haven’t travelled in a bus for years. Sitting in the last row brought up memories from long past school outings where the last row was the place to be. Travelling with kids, we were also quite relaxed to find that there’s a washroom on the bus, and an electric plug for smartphone people, and even cup holders (just not for oversized refillable venti thermos cups).
Slowly nibbling away on our food supplies, we enjoyed watching the landscape flying by, and getting whiter and whiter. The bus ride was convenient, it was a pure luxury on the way back with sore muscles and pleasantly tired.
Finally, we arrived at Scenic Caves – what a beautiful winter day. We quickly grabbed our gear and kids (and figured out we could leave some stuff in the bus and in the log cabin).
So, beginners we are and enrolled in Xavier’s beginner’s course. A very good decision, even as proficient downhillers, to learn the basic cross-country was essential, and big fun as well. Xavier is a brilliant instructor and took us through snow ploughs and quick steps along the tracks, and even recruited some of the other skiers coming by to demonstrate how going down a little hill.
After this, we moved around far from elegant but felt sufficiently prepared to explore the easy peasy lemon squeezy tracks through the forest. What a difference to our downhill experiences in the European Alps where slopes can get pretty crowded. We enjoyed the peace, wondered about animal tracks in the snow, and experienced a nice blend of sweat (uphill) and adrenaline (downhill).
Easy peasy track, but expressive map-style.
This was fun. We are so glad we joined at the start of the season, and will surely be back as often as possible. Every one of us, had their little successes and learning opportunities, and when we stepped back into the bus, we were tired and joyful. What a beautiful day. Thank you, Trakkers.
Note to ourselves: Add sunglasses next time. Bring even more drinks. Remember to take the improvised toboggans again for the kids, and bring more books.
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!
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!
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.
All the trails have animal names like Otter, Rabbit, Beaver and Cottontail. The chalet is called “Borrow”. Trail details can be found here.
We are watching the weather and keeping our fingers crossed for a spring skiing trip to this special destination.
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.
We asked Xavier and Sylvia to share some reflections and to suggest trails for different levels of skiers.
“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!”
Trail 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! “
“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.”