A portion of the Lost Lake Cross Country Trail system could open this week, with a little help from Mother Nature and crews with shovels.
Roger Weetman, manager of recreation services for the Resort Municipality of Whistler, says the recent snow has helped but in places it was too light and blew away. Now crews that have been collecting ice scrapings from Meadow Park are physically patching up the bare areas in a bid to get the trail network open by Boxing Day.
“It’s a difficult start, but we’re doing everything we can to get it open,” said Weetman, who is looking forward to warming temperatures and more snow this week to create a better base.
While Lost Lake has been able to open early the past two years — despite a cat groomer that needed maintenance last year — Weetman says it’s more typical for the trails to open in the second or third week of December with natural snow. It’s a bit late to start after Christmas, but not unheard of.
“This is relatively normal for us,” he said last week. “Being at an elevation of 650 metres, this is a relatively normal amount of snow, and the good news is that with the subarctic weather we’ve been getting the ground is really frozen so that when any precipitation falls it definitely sticks. The snow is good quality as well, we just need a little more of it.”
One of the benefits of a later start is that all of the cross-country and snowshoe trail signage is already in place. Staff and volunteers are on call, and ready to open the trails within 24 hours of a snowfall.
As well, the snowcat was repaired early this year and is ready to go when there is enough snow. Early season conditions will be improved with the purchase of a new four-stroke snowmobile and $6,000 snowmobile groomer that requires less base to groom and set tracks. Even 20 cm of good snow would be enough.
The snowmobile will also improve conditions as the facility switches over from day to night skiing.
“The idea behind that is that we’ll also be able to go out and do a quick 3 p.m. night groom, and go around the (lighted) loop to provide a more viable nighttime product,” said Weetman.
“We’ve also got about 40 volunteers that have been orientated and are ready to go, and we have four or five staff that have taken their Level 3 First Aid and who will be based out of the Mons ticket booth.”
The new patrol location is a pilot project for Lost Lake, as is a program to turn the trail by the float plane dock on Green Lake into a multipurpose trail for people living and renting those homes. The loop is about 750 metres, said Weetman, and doesn’t subtract noticeably from the trail network.
As for the network itself, he’s advising skiers to be cautious this year when travelling on the trails near the Riverside RV Park and Campground expansion which have changed in the last few months.
“There are a couple of grades and corners that are a little different, and it’s a hilly section of our trail network, so people need to be aware of that,” he said. “We’ve put up signage to let people know it’s changed, but people should get used to the trails and know what speeds are safe — just a little more cautious than years previous.”
Updates on the trails are just a phone call away. Call 604-935-PLAY (7529) and press “2” at any time to get an update on the trails.