Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cross-Country Skiing at Last!

Finally we got a serious snowfall on Saturday, about 8-10 inches of powder, and they were able to track-set the cross-country ski trails at Glenelg Nordic. And that was followed with a beautiful sunny Sunday for skiing!

The main trails go through 400 acres of public country forest just southwest of Markdale, and the club is entirely managed by a group of volunteers, including nearby landowners. This is beautiful rolling hardwood forest, with the odd pond or wetland, and some patches of reforestation, now getting fairly mature. In places, the trail was really beautiful with snow draped over everything.

Most of the property is hardwood sugar maple forest, and it's actively managed for logging, but they manage to maintain a good balance between the occasional forest harvest, and ongoing recreational use. This time the snow was fresh, the track-setting had just been completed, and the skiing was the best so far this winter.

There was a fair wind with the snowfall on Saturday, so the snow had been blown clear of the trees on the higher elevations, but in the hollows the snow was clinging to every branch. All the horizontal branches of the dogwood understory were decorated in white.

This county forest sits on a very rolling hilly section of a glacial moraine, so if you walked on a compass bearing through the property, you'd be climbing up and down challenging hills. On one side you look down into a deep hollow, and then you're climbing nearly to the top of a hill. They have managed to route the ski trails around the sides of these hills and hollows to at least minimize the death-defying runs downhill!

In one stretch there are a number of dead white pine skeletons, overtaken by hardwoods growing around them. They stand like ghostly sentinels blanketed in white at the edge of the trail.

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