With plenty of snow and better brushing this year, cross-country skiers are gliding smoothly into winter on Morice Mountain.
Located 8 km from Houston on Buck Flats Road, the Morice ski area boasts 26 km of nordic trails groomed for track and skate skiing.
Ski club president Jaret van der Giessen says the trails look extra clean this year thanks to a mower the club bought with a $5000 grant from the Bulkley Valley Credit Union.
So far, the only hitch in the season is the lack of adult skiers who can coach kids in the popular Jackrabbit program.
“This year the club is going to focus more on how to teach adults to ski and hopefully build from there,” said van der Giessen. The club will host its season opener soon, which means a weekend of free ski lessons for anyone interested in taking up the sport.
Club member Jocelyn Ball said it would be a shame if no new coaches comes forward, since the Jackrabbits had about 30 kids sign up for the last two years.
“All the coaches that we’ve had over the years are people like myself, whose kids are 30,” said club member Jocelyn Ball, adding that she hopes some of the parents with younger kids can step up to coach.
Sometime in January, Ball said she will organize a poker ski fundraiser where skiers can race to win a strong poker hand and a jackpot that will be split 50/50 with the club.
Staring in late afternoon, Ball said the annual poker ski can go well into the night if the sky is clear.
“It’s great to ski out here on a full moon and just go,” she said, adding that all the trails are brushed widely enough to see by. “It’s gorgeous.”
As well as stars, Ball said skiers at Morice Mountain regularly see lynx along the trails.
She and some friends also found grizzly tracks by the trail on the last day of skiing in April.
“We turned around and were back in 20 minutes,” she said.
Asked what tips he would give to new nordic skiers, van der Giessen said it’s important to know the difference between wax and waxless skis.
For a first time out, van der Giessen recommends that new skiers borrow a pair of the more convenient, waxless skis. The club has lots of skis to rent, he added.
But if new skiers really want to get into the sport, van der Giessen said it’s best to buy wax skis that can they can adapt to varying conditions.
“The other tip is just to get out and ski,” he said, laughing.
Along with the groomed trails, the Morice ski area features a steep backcountry trail to an alpine cabin.
Two kilometres of the regular trails can also be lit for night skiing, and other 2 km of trail are designated dog-friendly.
For maps of the Morice ski trails, events and membership info, visit the ski club’s website at www.xcskimoricemtn.com.