Here is an excerpt of my newsletter, you can subscribe to them here.
First I want to wish you all the best for
this festive season and 2023!
Let’s all step back and relax a bit from the madness of everyday life. Don our warm winter wear and hit the trails for some solitude in the pines, fresh crisp air, and good cheerful company with our fellow Nordic skiers and snowshoers.
Let us be thankful for all the good things we have here in Canada. We can be glad that the Covid bug, though here to stay, has been tamed and we can enjoy our winter outings once again.
Not to say let’s be careless and catch or share this around but I think attitudes have changed for the better. More people are less likely to go out if they are not feeling well. And if you must, wear a mask as a courtesy to others, like I see they do in Asia.
Remember closed chalets and warming huts, no food or repair services, using temporary cold outhouses (if there even was one) and having to change in your car? All that added hassle but not at a reduced price! (more on that issue below)
Those inconveniences are gone. Despite this, it did increase the popularity of our sports, which was welcomed.
Many locations are keeping paperless booking systems that were set up during Covid for online payments. This can secure a day for you and even a time slot to be there, days in advance. Just don’t make it too far ahead as the weather can be a spoiler.
– Good weather and snow conditions are important for our outings. For the third year in a row,
will be a major influence on Canada’s weather systems.
I took a skeptical look at our weather horoscope for this winter. It’s sounding like crystal ball gazing as no one really knows. From weather networks to the Farmers Almanac one can get a broad range of forecasts.
Supposedly it will be colder than normal here in Ontario, with more snow too, but also more rain, Ok make up your mind. A season of changeable weather they say…… Umm, that kind of covers all the bases. Lol..not helpful but entertaining.
Scary Weather Alerts
– I was having a conversation in the kitchen this week at our big family feast about weather sensationalism. We agreed that over the years weather has turned from what we expect as normal forecasting into drama the networks hype to promote as entertainment or exaggerate as a real concern. They turned our daily weather forecasts from typically boring news into something that would get our attention and ad dollars. (eg. – freak weather as clickbait on the Weather Network)
What was once a snowstorm we would weather through and shovel out, now is broadcast as “ the storm of the century” “a snow armageddon” or some terrifying anomaly. Now kids stay home from school, and highways/businesses close at a hint of anything that might be. OMG!
As the Brits like to say “Keep Calm and Ski On”. Sure there can be bad weather that you should avoid, delay your plans and make you stay home.
But don’t get conditioned by the media into thinking that you can’t handle Canadian winters anymore. We all can remember lots of blizzards and storms that we “survived” without much fuss. (And I know I am writing to the wrong audience anyway, as most of you are hardy skiers and snowshoers who have trekked through some pretty crazy weather in your day.)
Trail Pass Value $$?
– As I update info on the OST site every winter, I have seen prices continue to climb. I always saw Nordic skiing and snowshoeing as a lower cost way to get out and be active than the more popular and expensive cousin, downhill skiing. It does not feel so much that way these days.
The old timers are telling me it’s getting overpriced, questioning where is the value? Why the large increase for essentially a very simple activity in the woods?
Top resorts are charging more; $42 at Hardwood, $40 at Horseshoe, $35 at Nordic Highlands, and $31 at Scenic Caves… A leap in a few years on average from $25 to $40, a 60% increase folks. Not cheap anymore, and when you take the whole family. Ouch!
As Nordic skiers and snowshoers, our needs are basic, a trail that’s groomed. (And sometimes poorly.) There are no snowmaking services or ski lifts, and less equipment and staff are needed to groom and run a Nordic resort compared to downhill locations. Even paper maps are a thing of the past.
Certainly, resorts/clubs enjoyed a few good profitable years recently. Because of Covid limitations, more people got out on the trails, and the numbers doubled.
Also, the rise in popularity of snowshoeing and Fatbikes is added income. And some resorts even make more money in the summer by charging mountain bikers trail fees!
I do support these resorts and I am glad they exist as a choice for some who wish it as a more up-scale destination. And I want them to be profitable, to stay in business… Yet it seems they are making more income from the same property than ever before. (BTW the free listings and extra business I give them on this site comes with little in return to me, not even thanks.)
I do understand there are many costs to running these places (insurance, property maintenance, wage increases, taxes…) but the optics are not looking good.
Even when adding more lunchroom space is that cost not offset by the increase in visitors? And as nice as better/more food choices at the lunch counter, or a fancy pro shop or more rentals are, you do have to pay extra for these.
Compare this to Ontario Park trails (Arrowhead & Wasaga) and Nordic club trail passes. Most have inched up only a few dollars in the last few years into the mid teens $$ in price and remain sane, good value.
Now with that said, thankfully for our sports, you can do Nordic skiing and snowshoe, almost anywhere at no cost, even in your local park on a good snow day. These sports have their roots in a basic means to get around, a natural, no frills, low tech activity to enjoy the outdoors and stay fit. Let’s not get fooled that money has to be spent to have fun.
So why is it getting so expensive? I wish I knew. Are running costs getting that much higher or are enterprises testing the market to see how much we are willing to pay = more profits, yet fewer people can afford to visit? Are they getting greedy?
(And after the holidays, I am going to make contact and see what resorts say and tell you later.)
Enjoy the trails – Dan Roitner
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