Today, I returned to the scene where I skied for the first time in my life and retraced the steps which helped me fall in love with this activity 20 years ago.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was a life-changing event when I skied a 6K loop on the Kananaskis Village trails in Feb 1997.
My girlfriend and I went to stay for the weekend at the Delta Lodge at Kananaskis. Arriving late Friday afternoon, we went for a walk and stumbled upon Terrace trail. “What are those grooves in the snow for?” was my first reaction, then a couple skiers came down the hill and I realized it was a cross-country ski trail.
It looked like fun, so the next morning we rented waxless skis, boots, and poles at Peregrine Sports Rentals at the village and headed out. It was a very cold day, so I first purchased a warm hat at one of the stores in the hotel. I was decked out in blue jeans and a big down coat.
We decided to head south on Terrace trail. I don’t remember doing any research on the elevation or difficulty of the trail. If I remember correctly, the paved walking path was actually groomed and trackset going south from the village rather than as it is now, where the trail runs through the open field. I guess Tracksetter Jeff would be the final authority on whether my memory is accurate. Pretty sure he groomed the trails for my first ski trip.
Terrace ski trail ends at 600 metres and you start climbing Kovach on those S-turns. Climb, climb, climb I thought it would never end. I was wearing my coat around my waist by now. It’s about a 65-metre elevation gain to the Aspen junction at 1.7K.
Aspen gave me my first taste of the fun with some very exciting downhills. I also remember one of the turns gave me my first experience of a faceplant but I’m sure I came up laughing and grinning. I was sold!
The loop was completed with more fun going downhill on Kovach, then onto Terrace Link and Terrace. Thinking it was going to be a long day, we even took bagged lunches which the hotel provided. I still use the lunch bag.
After all that fun, I thought I should give downhill skiing a try, which I did, and enjoyed it too. The peace, quiet and remoteness of the xc trails is probably what convinced me that I was going to be a cross-country skier.
I didn’t go again that winter, but in October I bought my first set of skis. In the winter of 1997-98, I went skiing 12 times and logged 89 kilometres, many of them on Ribbon Creek which was a perfect beginner’s trail back then.
Today, I was out early enough to be able to use my waxable skis with VR50(0/-4) but the sunny spots were already becoming soft and wet. The temperature when I left Kananaskis Village around 1 pm was +9°C.
In the photos below, notice how faded the colour has become on my backpack. I’ve skied over 21,000 kilometres since that first fateful day.