By Steve Hubrecht
Skaters, cross-country skiers, fat tire bikers, winter trail runners and many others got an early Christmas present with the world-famous Lake Windermere Whiteway open and in excellent shape by December 25th.
Whiteway-creating conditions cold temperatures and calm nights for the two weeks or so prior to Christmas Day were about as ideal as they can get and Whiteway maintainer Brad Kitching had cleared the skate track a few days before Christmas, with the ice ultra-smooth in some places and bit windblown in others, making for generally great skating.
Heading right out on Christmas Day, Mr. Kitching kept up his unflagging efforts to groom the classic and skate ski tracks, leaving an extra present for valley residents and visitors who headed out on the lake.
Mr. Kitching concurred that things could hardly have turned out better, telling The Pioneer on December 27th that the only thing that messed it up was that Mother Nature sent out her wind demons to blow things up.
He added that during the night of Boxing Day (Monday, December 26th), the classic cross country ski tracks were mostly blown in.
By Christmas Day, everything was going, aside from the Rushmere end, but I havent been able to get there since the wind event, he said.
According to Mr. Kitching, the ice covering the lake in most places is just barely at 12 inches (the thickness at which he can take the Toby Creek Nordic Ski Societys Kubota grooming tractor out), although there are a few exceptions.
Its not 12 inches between Timber Ridge and Fort Point right now, although the ice is thick enough in that area that I am able to drive my little truck through there, he said, adding that hopefully the ice will thicken up there soon. The Kubota really does a much better job than my truck does.
How the Whiteway will shape up in the next few weeks in anybodys guess, according to Mr. Kitching.
It all depends on the conditions. My words of wisdom are get out while its good. It can change pretty fast, so dont delay, he said, pointing out that the temperature had at one point on Tuesday risen to 1 C.
As of right now, the wind has actually been helpful in some places; it has blown the ice quite clear on north-south sections of the Whiteway. Its blown in on the east-west sections, but on the north-south sections, its created a sand-blasted clear black ice with a really good surface. Its better than I can do with the sweeper.
The Nordic Clubs ice skating trail and cross country ski tracks on Lake Lillian are also now up and running.