Building a city ski and snowshoe culture
Last night, two neighbours and I, met at the O-train pathway and cut a cross country ski trail to the Ottawa River and east to the Mill Street Brewery.
What could be more Canadian than enjoying a great apres-ski beer only a few kilometres from home? And more importantly… WHY ISN’T THIS A THING, OTTAWA? In what other Canadian city could you ski as a real form of transportation? To a pub! In theory, using the existing pathway system, we could ski to the Market, to Westboro or heck, even the Glebe.
What would it take to make the pathway system a year-round network with skiing and snowshoeing in the winter? Turning the pathways into a winter activity network turns otherwise ordinary (and unused in the winter months) walking and cycling paths into a really unique experience when the snow falls. And best of all, the infrastructure is already THERE.
All it requires is some hardy Amonte-ian (or likeminded rural Ottawan) with a snowmobile to flatten a track. It wouldn’t take much to make a winter recreational network. People might start to realize that you don’t actually need to drive to Mooney’s Bay or Gatineau Park to have an Ottawa winter adventure. You can be Joe Ski or Jill Snoeshow and enjoy your winter city starting from your front door.
And I bet tourists would love it.
Get on it already, hipsters
City cross country skiing has all the elements of popular hipster culture: fixies (1 speed skis with no brakes), flannel (immense opportunity for flannel wearing – although, in a purposeful and less ironic fashion), rustic atmosphere (literally, it’s off the beaten path) and the two great pathway destinations involve craft beer and artinsal bread.
WHY ISN’T IT A THING, HIPSTERS? GO BUY SOME SKIS, BEARDOS.
Ski conditions post weekend snowpocalypse
Ski conditions yesterday were a bit tough. With the accumulation of snow from our weekend storms, breaking the track was a hard slog. We put the “avid skiier” in the lead for the leg-busting task of making tracks.
While there is a sense of pride from breaking fresh tracks and being part of the artisinal Hintonburg Cross County Street Ski scene, I wouldn’t mind seeing more people embracing winter culture within the city limits.
If you can’t beat winter, stop throwing salt at it and embrace it.
Pros of rogue cross county city skiing :
- It’s FREE! (A ski pass in Gatineau park is $11 per person)
- You don’t need to drive to Gatineau Park (great for car-free city dwellers or car owners who are tired of shovelling their car out of the driveway)
- You can make a bakery or a pub your apres-ski or mid-ski destination
- Free parking! Wedge skis and poles into a snowbank by the door
- DIY track making = “rustic” backcountry winter experience
- You get to feel like an arctic explorer… within city limits
- Hot pretzels at the Mill Street Brewery! (Evening menu only.)
- DIY track making (hard work in deep snow)
- Sometimes walkers will walk over the ski tracks
- Twinges of resentment. Why can’t the NCC run their ski track making machine on the Ottawa side once in a while?
Did I mention the pretzels? Mmmmm…. hot pretzels.