Where to do cross-country skies in Vancouver?

I probably will not sound a cool and tough fella at all if I say that I just love to do cross-country skis. It may look especially silly here in Vancouver, which is famous for its mountain-skiing bases. There are three mountains here in Vancouver — http://www.cypressmountain.com/index_.new.html Cypress, http://www.mountseymour.com Seymour and http://www.grousemountain.com/ Grouse. To get to them it’ll take you just half an hour drive from downtown, pretty close, isn’t it?

OK, To tell you the truth I didn’t practice racing/cross-country skis for seven years, and only in the summer of 2004, after almost three years in Vancouver, I learned that you can do it here. It didn’t catch me by surprise, because everything is possible in North America. Yep, this pleasure you’ll find on mountain Cypress, where you can also do tubing. All right, once inspired, I made up my mind to go there and do a good workout. It could not resist my daughter from going with me: she, too, got inspired by the idea. It is important to note that she learned to do rollerblades and skates real fast, so I counted on her learning real fast cross-country, as well.

We left home late, some time after 11 in the morning, but managed to get to the base pretty fast – in about 40 minutes. In spite of cloudiness, the road in the mountain was clean, and it was only slushy and a little frozen closer to the base. We beat the snow-cleaning vehicle on our way to the top, — it was slightly snowing. Then, it took me awhile to find a parking spot, and here we are – at the cross-country skiing place, where you can rent out all necessary equipment. And the verdict was signed — 58 bucks for two people renting shoes, poles, and skies, of course, plus access to the trail. But I suggest checking their website for detailed information (see above).

What I’m thinking now is purchasing your own equipment in spring or summer, when prices go down tremendously with the season over. Also it may be a good idea to buy a season pass for the entire winter — it will cost from 100 to 150 dollars, they say. Now, I assume, we are set for the forthcoming season, and here we go!

What can I say about the trail? There is quite a bunch of tracks there, like you find these tiny ones in the summer time when on hiking. Entire area designated for cross-country is criss-crossed with numerous trails. The longest one is that on the external perimeter — approximately 10 km, i.e. it is possible to make it in an hour or so. Anyway, all you have to do is to go counter clockwise, slightly climbing upward, and then, after reaching the end/top of the route, you make a U-turn (the movie with the same title just popped up!), and now you roll downward all the time. It’s pure fun now! However, have a look at the photographs…

On your way you will encounter several cabins: there is a stove inside, where you can warm yourself (ye, unfortunately, they are not on fire all the time). There is water, as well, so in case you forgot to bring yours, feel free to take a gulp. We, too, after two hours’ ride stopped at a cabin to take a break, to drink some tea and have a simple snack. From the window we could see snow fall, and it was so dense that in just ten minutes it covered our hut. A little bit more and we were doomed to spend a night there, however the snow stopped and we had to continue our small adventure – this time go back to the base. So, we put back our skies on and hit the road, now sliding down the hill. In ten minutes or so we were at the base, — lots of people, so it was safe.

My daughter excelled in her mission – to learn how to do cross-country. Surprisingly, one time was enough and now she slides like a real professional.  Well, our tour came to the end. When we were returning our skis, the snowfall was increasing and it continued all the way we were descending. The traffic going down the hill grew extremely slow – quite a line. What a drag!

What else can I add about our trip? Yes, to do cross-country skies is fun, a good one I’d say. Interestingly, we met lots of people, apparently from the former Europe – Norwegia, Sweden, Finland, France, etc. who came out on that snowy day to enjoy this unique sport in not-so-much forlorn Vancouver mountains. And we all did really like it in the threshold of the forthcoming Olympic Games 2010.

Well, and I wish you to have fun, too, as we did!

Mitch

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