Sunday, 7 February 2016

Be sure to see the World Community Film Festival when it comes to town

 by Keith and Heather Nicol
    On Friday evening, February 5th we headed down to the Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay, B.C.  to check out the first night of the 25th World Community Film Festival. There was a huge turnout for the films “How to Change the World” and “There you go” that opened the festival.  Like many of the films in this festival these two films focused on social and environmental issues.  On Saturday, February 6th the festival organizers showed 25 other films in four venues that dealt with a wide variety of social, environmental and economic consequences of human activity at both local and international levels. They also showed seven films as part of a family programme.  Overall we saw several films and enjoyed them all. We saw a variety of films on Saturday including :”Bikes vs Cars”, “Nefertiti’s Daughters” “Following the Ninth” and “Jumbo Wild” which were all well attended. The finale on Saturday evening- “Ania” and “Haida Gwaii” played to a sold out crowd at the Sid Williams Theatre! Many of these films had won awards at other film festivals and our only complaint is that we couldn’t see more of the films being presented. But we hope to see the many films we missed through the World Community lending library.
Films were shown in several venues including the Native Sons Hall
      World Community which is headquartered in the Comox Valley is to be commended for organizing this event. And a great aspect of this event is that it travels to a variety of B.C. and other Canadian locations over the coming months. We have already told some of our friends in Nanaimo, Duncan and Vancouver the dates that it will be in their communities. In addition to the films, World Community also organized a Saturday Bazaar and evening banquet for the event. Overall we were very impressed with the festival and the organizers must feel encouraged by the large turnouts for the films. For more information on World Community and the travelling film festival see: 
The bazaar was also well attended with numerous booths and food

Friday, 8 January 2016

The Cross Country Skiing is excellent at Mount Washington, Vancouver Island

by Keith and Heather Nicol
Raven Lodge is a great facility
        The winter of 2015-16 is shaping up to be a good one for Mount Washington. The season started before Christmas and the good weather from late December has been continuing so far in January. We have been cross country skiing on both the 5th and 7th of January and the whole trail system is open. That means over 50 km of x-c ski trails and 18 km of snowshoe trails are ready for action. On Thursday, January 7 there was a interesting mist hanging in the low lying area in Paradise Meadows which made for eerie photos of the sun streaming through the light fog. The skating lanes were fast and well groomed and we appreciated the excellent classic tracks. Many people told us this was the best day of the season and we had to agree that the skiing conditions were superb. 
The x-c skiing is perfect at the present time
And we love Raven Lodge which provides excellent views of the surrounding mountains. Raven Lodge is a full service facility where you can rent gear, register for a lesson, have a meal, relax in front of the fire and even have a sauna! So if you have been thinking of getting out cross country skiing or snowshoeing-don’t delay since the conditions right now can’t be beat. For more information see:
The sun was streaming through the mist
The skating is fast and the trails well groomed!

Friday, 1 January 2016

Near perfect cross country ski conditions at Cypress Mountain near Vancouver

by Keith and Heather Nicol
    Vancouver is fortunate to have 3 alpine ski areas on its doorstep- Cypress Mountain, Grouse Mountain and Mt Seymour. But it only has one place to cross country ski and that is at Cypress Mountain so we headed there on Thursday, December 31 to check it out. We were joined by our daughter Kristie and her boyfriend Eric who is just learning to cross country ski.  This season has seen lots of snow in the local mountains and already Cypress was reporting more than 3 meters of snow on the ground. The forecast was calling for sunny skies with temperatures around – 5 C so we couldn`t have asked for better conditions. We knew that Cypress Bowl was also popular for tubing and snowshoeing so we wanted to be there by around 9:00 am when they opened. Even with this early start, there was a 10 minute lineup to buy tickets and the ticket agent said it would only get busier as the day progressed. As Mike Thomas, the Nordic area manager told us “The 2010 Olympics really put us on the map. Since then interest in snow related activities has just exploded”. 
Kristie striding past snow laden trees
   Cypress Nordic has 19 km of cross country ski trails groomed for both classic and skating as well as 10 km of snowshoe trails.  The ski trails are very wide and the popular lower trails are relatively flat.  As you gain elevation the trails ascend and descend more quickly and the skiing is more challenging.  On Thursday we skied most of the lower trails and also skied the Unknown Lake loop which is higher up on the mountain. We had lunch at a warmup cabin and it was so pleasant in the sun that we ate outside. How many places can you do that in Canada in December?  If you are visiting Vancouver and want to cross country ski you couldn’t do any better than visiting Cypress Mountain. They offer a wide range of activities from alpine and cross country skiing to tubing and snowshoeing. With good weather in the forecast be sure to take advantage of the great skiing out there. For more information see:  

The wide trails are groomed for skating and striding

We ate lunch in front of the upper warm up hut


Friday, 11 December 2015

Silver Star comes through with amazing early season skiing

by Keith and Heather Nicol    
     We were recently at Silver Star Mountain Resort near Vernon, B.C. to take in the CANSI (Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructors) Telemark Refresher and do some free skiing on some great early season snow. Many ski areas in B.C. suffered last year through a poor snow year, but so far the early winter of 2015-16 is proving to be much better in terms of steady snow falls. This is especially true of places like Silver Star where the storms just seemed to roll in one after another. On December 5th and 6th the front side lifts were turning at Silver Star and we spent most of our time on the Comet Express- a 6 person lift which serves a good mix of beginner and intermediate terrain. Another bonus was the pleasant temperatures which hovered just a few degrees below 0 C. 
Silver Star is has lots of instructors to improve your tele turns
   Silver Star Mountain Resort is known as a great family resort and we saw a large range of people enjoying the boarding and skiing over the weekend. They cater to young skiers and have a perfect place for them to learn right in the village. Silver Star also offers a wide range of other activities like cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, tubing and their latest offering:  fat tire biking. There should be something for everyone with that large mix of activities. Also with your day ticket you can access all of these activities as well which means that after your day of skiing you can go skating or tubing in the evening or get in a quick cross country ski before dinner. Also you might want to check out Silver Star’s Powpass which gets you 3 days of skiing for a very good price. But act fast since this deal only lasts until December 24. For more information see:

Silver Star nicely blends alpine skiing and riding with tons of x-c ski trails

Silver Star has a popular learn to ski programme for the kids

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Try a Supercamp at Sovereign Lake- Silver Star to improve your cross country skiing !

by Keith and Heather Nicol
There is a variety of Rossignol ski equipment to try out
      We just returned from a great Supercamp experience at Canada’s largest cross country ski trail network at the Sovereign Lake-Silver Star Nordic facility located near Vernon, B.C. The main Supercamps ran from November 20 to December 6, 2015 and they included 3 weekend camps and two 5 day mid week camps. These camps are worth looking at for many reasons including: amazing early season snow, well qualified CANSI instructors and coaches and a 105 km long trail system that is well groomed for classic and skate technique. Add to this presentations by waxing experts, access to a well -equipped weight room and high quality Rossignol ski equipment and what more could you ask for? And did I mention that many cross country ski teams use this area for their early season training camps so you are sharing the trails with some of the continent’s best cross country skiers. Guy Paulsen who helps organize the Supercamps told us that the number of skiers taking part keeps increasing and many skiers come back year after year. This year there were close to 200 who took part and they came from all over North America as well as England!
Our class tried juggling and striding at the same time!
    These camps are geared to everyone from first timers to advanced skiers wanting to improve their technique.  If you want a mid season tune up on your skiing you can still take in 2 more weekend camps which are scheduled for January 15-17, 2016, February 19-21, 2016 and a May camp with dates to be determined. For more information see:
The views from the trails can be spectacular
There are 105 km of trails at Silver Star and Sovereign Lake Nordic ski area

We really appreciated the well groomed tracks for skate and classic skiing