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  • Writer's pictureLiz

Snow Valley Nordics News January 11, 2020

Updated: Jan 29, 2020

Hi Everyone! Happy New year and welcome all new members to the Snow Valley Nordic Ski Club!

We began our year with the huge adrenaline rush from winning the provincial early bird sign up contest in early December—our prize is a fleet of kids’ ski gear! Then we waited for the snow. And waited… Then after, shall we say, a less than stellar Christmas season, we got dumped with almost a meter of snow! And on the evening that we decided to postpone the start of Jackrabbits for the first time in memory, we signed up our 500th member! And I swear you all came skiing this Saturday! It was a hive of activity!

We have more new members this year than ever before so here is some basic information everyone needs to know.

Visit our face book page, Onion Lake Ski Trails ( for up-to-date snow conditions and urgent happenings in the Club. This becomes crucial after a big snow as we have seen. Also there are great photos of our trails and people! (This is a public site and one does not need to have a Facebook account to visit.) At the top of the FB page, the link to our website is right there: This is where you can find answers to all those everyday questions like rental shed hours, prices, lesson arrangements etc, etc. Tara Robinson of volunteered a huge amount of time to make the website lovely and user-friendly, so go there and appreciate it.

If all else fails, ask someone at the trails. We’re a friendly bunch and we learned by people explaining things to us and we’re happy to pay it on forward.

Parking: One reason the fb page is important: we try very hard to keep our driveway and parking lot cleared. In exceptional cases like the past week, that’s not always possible. If it isn’t, we’ll tell you on fb.

DO NOT park on the other side of the highway and walk across. There used to be a recreational parking lot there. Now it’s an industrial road for the pipeline and enormous trucks are coming and going all day. If our lot is closed, please stay home or better yet, ski in your local park and impress the neighbours.

Twice now the highway plowing contractor has left a huge windrow in our driveway and made it impossible to get through. This hasn’t been an issue for the past few years and the executive is working on fixing the problem but in the meantime, watch the fb page.

If you come from Terrace and discover that you can’t get into our driveway, it’s not always safe to make a U-turn on the highway. If necessary, drive down the hill to the Kitimat River Bridge. About 1½ km. past the bridge is a turn around spot for the plows where you, too, can safely turn around.

Maps are available in the Rental Shop and on the shelves beside the microwave in the lodge. (There are also printable versions on the website, as well as a geo-referenced map that can be downloaded onto your phone.) Take a map with you on the trails. Refer to it and to the signs at all the junctions. Beginners should get comfortable on the Beaver and Snowbound (it’s the lit track so follow the light poles) and the dog trail before venturing further.

The Moose Highway is a 13 km loop with a few options. Study the map and figure out what you want to do. A popular choice is called the Short Moose, ask in the Rental Shop to have it explained to you. Allow at least 2 -3 hours to do the full Moose – there are some very big hills. Guess which one we call Cardiac Hill? Click here for Snow Valley Maps Online.

In Case of Emergency BE PREPARED. Yes, we can and will help you to the utmost of our abilities, BUT it will take at least 2 hours for anyone (like club volunteers who have gone home, or a Search and Rescue call out) to get to you, and possibly longer. If you are lost or hurt, what are you carrying to help you keep warm and safe? Here are some suggestions for being safe on the trails:

Common sense – It’s dark by 5:30 on a sunny day now. Choose a route that will get you back to the lodge by that time.

Carry a back pack with an extra sweater in it. Also a head lamp or flashlight and snack. Don’t eat the snack unless it’s an emergency.

Carry a cell phone, fully charged. If you have to, call the RCMP, 911. Only they can call out Search and Rescue. If you’re going to need an ambulance, tell them that, it’ll wait for you in the parking lot. Remember, it will be at least 2 hours before anyone gets there. Figure out how to stay warm and dry.

Club emergency supplies are located in several places and they’re all marked on the map:

  • In the old warming hut, that shed thing across the stadium from the lodge, use the left hand, brown door, it has no lock. The emergency supplies are in an old but strong, back pack and can be easily carried by an adult or teen to where it is needed.

  • On the NE corner of the Beaver, it’s marked on the map, in a big, blue barrel on a high wooden stand.

  • In the outhouse at the junction of the Lone Wolf Trail and Moose Highway. It’s in a rubber maid box on a shelf above the throne.

  • In the Moose Hut, another rubber maid tub.

  • On the SW corner of the short Dog. Another blue barrel on a wooden stand.

  • At the Onion Lake Viewpoint, in the outhouse. This one is accessible to both skiers and snowshoers.

Watch for these first aid locations on your travels so you’ll know where they are if you need them. And plan not to need them. Please DO NOT open up the emergency supplies unless you have to. There is no food in them to avoid animal problems. There is an insulite pad, blankets, hats and mitts, first aid kit, a tarp and rope as well a a few other items. Sam Lambright (with the help of Bart DeFreitas from Canadian Ski Patrol Skeena Zone) put a lot of work into getting these organized this fall. She plans to check on them once a month. This could get a bit onerous for just one person so she’d like a few helpers. If you’re interested, let her know (

Volunteers – the lifeblood of the Club. We’re all volunteers: the executive, coaches, groomers, Rental Shop staff, Snowflake café ladies…everyone! And I’ll tell you a secret… most of us have day jobs. So if something isn’t done, understand that it will get done as soon as we’re off work and hopefully, have some supper.

Or…you could do it! And believe me, it doesn’t have to be a huge job like grooming to be appreciated. It can be small things like sweeping the lodge floor on Saturday afternoons. There’s always the need after 70 odd kids have had lunch and if it doesn’t get done, then we need a volunteer to catch mice!

Shovel snow. Sometimes it’s a little, and sometimes it’s a lot but it has to be done. Even if you just do 10 minutes worth, it helps. And by the way, to who ever shoveled out the “yard” between the lodge back door and the wood shed, Thank you! That was a job and a half!!!

Sand. There’s a garbage can full of sand/salt right next to the entrance gate. There’s a scoop too. Shaking it on the deck and steps makes us all safer.

Firewood. We go through a lot. The shed is just outside the back door and anyone can grab an armload or two. It doesn’t have to be the whole box filled up.

Make soup or goodies for the Snowflake Café on Saturdays or for other events. Contact us at and we'll forward the email on to her.

Garbage. if you can, take a bag home when it’s full. There are lots of clean bags under the sink in the kitchen to replace the full ones.


Grooming We join a Ski Club because we want groomed trails to ski on. That involves big, expensive machines. We have just one more payment to make on our Prinoth Snow Cat (known fondly as the “Snow Kitty” to honour Kitimat who donated a sizable chunk of her purchase price). We also own a big snow mobile that pulls a Ginzu groomer.

Ginzu being pulled by the snowmobile.

Snow Kitty.

Grooming is rather complicated especially when we get a big dump of snow. First, the trails have to be track packed. That means the Snow Kitty drives around with the track-setting comb and pans up, and it’s just the big cat tracks packing down the snow. This is really hard to ski on so don’t. It’s not fun. It usually takes 2 circuits of a trail to get it packed enough to set tracks, and that’s usually another 2 trips around the loop.

The Snow Kitty travels at about 5 or 6 km per hour under good conditions. So imagine, 4 times around the Dog, about 4 hours, from big snow until ready-to-ski. The Beaver is about the same. The Moose, being 13 km, takes about 8 hours.

This year, with all the logging that’s been happening around the trails, we’re getting a tremendous number of tree blow downs. One or two is normal but 12? And that’s just on the Doggy Trail! So that adds more time and just sheer muscle power from the guys who have to wade through waist-deep snow carrying a chainsaw to cut the trees and get the logs off the trail. And since they work during the day, they’re quite often doing it in the dark.

Did I mention the volunteer groomers REALLY appreciate cookies? (At least, that’s what Dean tells us!)

The Ginzu is used for touch up work after the Snow Kitty has done her job, or when the snow is too thin to put the SK on it. So understand that instant grooming is not a thing. It takes time, and patience is a virtue. Also it takes cookies.


So that’s it for now everyone.

Welcome to the Club!


Enjoy the winter!

Liz Thorne

(Pres. SVNSC)

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