Sunday, 22 January 2017

Adaptive Cross Country skiing is alive and well at Mount Washington

   by Keith and Heather Nicol
Cross country skiers know that one of the great aspects of the sport is that it gets us out in the fresh air and is an ideal form of exercise since it strengthens our legs and arms and is also an aerobic workout.  Mount Washington in the Comox Valley has been having a great 2016-17 season so far with a very busy Christmas season and so far January has generally had very good weather for skiing. But people may not know that Mount Washington also has a well established adaptive skiing programme.  Recently I spoke to Steve Latta, the programme’s Nordic coordinator about how it works and who can participate. “We try to get people with a variety of challenges to try x-c skiing and this might include people with spinal cord injuries, amputees, visual impairment and cognitive issues. We have 12 trained guides who help out on a regular basis. Our main focus is helping with the Woody Gundy School programme and last year we had 54 students in our classes over the winter. We also have a number of adults who use our services and we also have a 4 day Ski Festival in early January where skiers get to come to really get immersed in the skiing since they are out day after day. This year we had 6 skiers take part which is about the maximum we can take”.  
Some of the skiers and guides at this year's festival

One of the best parts of the programme is that it is financially attainable for most people. Once people join BCAS (British Columbia Adaptive Snowsports)  for $47 per year all rentals and instruction is free. And Mount Washington offers trail tickets for ½ price to BCAS members under VISAS (Vancouver Island Society for Adaptive Snowsports) guidance.  People can also try x-c skiing with the VISAS “Have-A-Go” programme where skiers can buy a 1 day membership in BCAS for $10. For more information you can phone Steve Latta at 250-871-4488 and you can book a lesson at 250-334-5755.

A sit skier has 3 people to help guide them around the trail




Sunday, 15 January 2017

Maple Lake offers skating and other winter activities

   by Keith and Heather Nicol
     We were at a dinner party on Saturday, January 14 and Norm Reynolds mentioned that he had heard that people were skating on Maple Lake near Cumberland. After 6 weeks of abnormally cold weather for the Comox Valley snow was lingering on many lawns and ice was forming on small lakes. With the weather about to change on Monday  (rain and + 6 C) it seemed like a good idea to check this area out on Sunday morning before the forecasted thaw changed conditions. We had not been to Maple Lake before but it is easily accessed off the Cumberland connector by turning on Minto Road and following it past a cemetery and under the Inland Highway to a parking lot. From there the actual road to the lake was quite icy and rough so we gathered up our skates and walked the short distance to the lake. 
Keith checking out the ice on Maple Lake

     We were joined by Steve Faraher-Amidon who also likes outdoor skating. Once on the lake we could see some areas that had been shoveled off for skating but we also saw several people ice fishing and other people out walking their dogs and enjoying the pleasant weather.  The sun was out and there was no wind making this a special setting for a winter outing.  We skated on one pond on reasonably good ice and then checked out another “rink” that had some natural flooding along the edges. This “rink” was larger but the flooded area had not frozen solidly so we skated on the smooth non flooded surface.  If the weather cooperates again this winter skaters might want to check this area out and if readers know of other outdoor places to skate in the Comox Valley let us know. Be sure to confirm that the ice is solid enough by checking its thickness along the shore. The Red Cross recommends at least 20 cm of ice if groups are going to be skating or walking. We will certainly be back to check out Maple Lake if we get another cold snap. 
Steve skating on another "rink" that had natural flooding along its edges