Today was an unexpected pleasure – a skate ski on Great Slave Lake. Skate skiing, for those of you who haven’t had the great pleasure to try it, is executing a skating style technique while on skis. Its the most physically demanding of all types of skiing, as its hard to do slowly,and it requires both upper and lower body strength. Its also hard to learn, but once you have, its addictive. We didn’t think we would skate ski much up here – when the temperatures are cold, there really isn’t enough glide on the snow to make this any fun.
So how did we manage this? Well, as I mentioned in my last post, the government folks have been building the local ice road, which travels right by our house. Its an 80 foot wide swath of nearly bare ice on Great Slave Lake, running from Yellowknife to the nearest community across the bay, a distance of about seven kilometers. They seem to have been working on it for ages, and although it seems like it’s finished, being as I said, 80 feet wide and seven kilometers long, it’s still not open. You can drive on it if you like, but the bright orange barricades remain across the entrance. Lots of heavy trucks are on it regularly, improving the road, so obviously the ice is very solid. Why on earth it remains closed is a mystery to us all.
Apparently they make it so wide for two reasons: the lack of snow helps the ice to become thicker, and also they don’t want snow drifts from the edges, which can easily blow and cover the road in snow as hard packed as cement. For this reason also they don’t plow the snow, creating more snow banks, but instead pack down new snow with a weight.
Last night there was about a cm of new snow, and it warmed up to minus 20, which means that the snow is warm enough to create a nice glide. (Nice might be overstating it, but certainly nice enough to make it worthwhile.) The trucks were out working today as usual. There were a few going back and forth.
We put on our skate skis at dawn, (that is, just shortly after the 1010 am sunrise) and skied from our door over to the ice road. Other than the trucks packing the snow we had it to ourselves. The newly packed snow, just a skiff on a perfectly flat ice surface, was really terrific to ski on. It was a cloudy and overcast day, so as we moved away from town, out towards the main part of the lake, we lost sight of where we can from. The light was flat and it was a little hard to make out the ground. It was a little like skiing into space. There are some evergreen trees stuck in the ice is a few places, random Christmas trees marking recent fishing holes, so we had those to guide us, as well as the sign announcing the speed limit of 40 km/hr, (which I was careful not to exceed).
As I glided along in the vast ice road, the width of about a 6 lane highway, the widest road between here and Edmonton some 1000+ kilometers to the south, I was wondering, again, why the road is still closed. And then it hit me – the government of Canada created the ice road for me! For my personal use and skate skiing pleasure! Wow. I am one lucky Canadian. As is my husband, because I let him use my road too. Stephen Harper must love me. Thank you Stephen. Thank you Canadian taxpayers everywhere. Your contribution is appreciated. I will ski on!