Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff

Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff

Despite the thaw, the skiing is good on city trails

Some of the best cross-country ski conditions in Alberta outside of the mountains can be found in Red Deer.

Some of the best cross-country ski conditions in Alberta outside of the mountains can be found in Red Deer.

Don Wales, trail groomer with the Parkland Cross Country Ski Club, said the trails are consistently good from Heritage Ranch to Great Chief Park and around the baseball diamonds.

“Everybody is having difficulty with lack of snow,” said Wales. “This is the place to ski. A lot of people from Edmonton and Calgary are coming up to Red Deer just to get on snow. They can’t do it at home.”

Despite the unseasonably warm conditions around the province, the city’s trails have been bustling with activity since early December.

A handful of cross-country races, including last weekend’s Alberta Cup in Grande Prairie, were cancelled because of the lack of snow and poor conditions.

Wales said the city’s trails are slightly icy but skiable.

In early December, ski club volunteers moved snow or “chinook proofed” to get through the warm winter periods. They moved the snow from snow farms or piles, scattered around Heritage Ranch. Using a snowblower, they moved the snow into a sled and dragged the snow into place on the trails.

Typically, “chinook proofing” is only done once a year to get through the warm melting periods.

“That enables us to get past one of these melts,” said Wales.

“This is one of the longest melts we have ever experienced,” said Wales.

Wales said the trails could use a good snowfall.

“Because there is absolutely nothing we can do until we get snow,” he said. “We just have to put up with the icier conditions but it’s still skiable and that’s good.”

To find out about local trail conditions, visit www.parklandxcskiclub.org or, for conditions elsewhere, visit www.stat.ualberta.ca.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com