The first ski trip of the season is sometimes tough. For one thing the trails might not have been groomed, which was the case when I and two friends went to Birds Hill Park on a crisp afternoon late last month.
The weather was beautiful: sunny, calm and about -17 C. The three of us met at a Safeway parking lot on Marion Street in Winnipeg at 1 pm. and headed out on highway 59 towards Birds Hill Park.
About 10 cars graced the parking lot at the riding stables when we arrived. All of us were in high spirits and ready to tackle the trails.
As we got out of the car a man walked towards us from the stable carrying his skis and we stopped to chat with him. The Esker trail was a “challenge” he said. So we headed towards the Aspen trail which is 6.7 km long and considered novice.
It was a challenge alright, as the trail was not groomed and the ski tracks were all over the place, crisscrossing the path. It was a good work out for sure. It took us a bit over an hour to complete it. Usually it is about 40-45 minute trek.
Being out in the woods on a beautiful winter day is a treat. There is such a peace about the trail and one never knows what one will see. This time we saw a white tail deer, however when it spotted us it ran out into an open space where other deer were grazing.
Later on, as we crossed the Chickadee trail and went to look at the map of the cross-country ski trails by its entrance, a group of Chickadees fed on a slab of grain in the hand of a young woman. As I entered she set it down on a stone and the birds flew around us to get at the food, not at all afraid.
We did not encounter many people on the trail that afternoon however we did have a great time and great exercise. The white snow crunching under our skis, the blue, sunny sky overhead and the trees covered with snow above us. What a glorious day!
After our rigorous workout we decided that we deserved a treat. So we entered the Ranch dining room and bought hot chocolate/tea and French fries. The fries tasted sooooooooo good, grease and all. Then we headed home satisfied with a great day on the trail.
If you are interested in finding out more about the cross-country ski trails at Birds Hill Park, there is detailed information and some terrific maps here:
All photos by Arny Hjaltadottir