En route to its best season, Overlander Ski Club is making plans to upgrade facilities at Stake Lake south of Kamloops.
“We’re well on our way to a record season,” said Alan Vyse, president of the Overlander Ski Club, just returned from a day on the trails.
By the end of February, with a month or more to go, the season ranked fourth in the 22 years the club has managed the trail system. Typically, they log about 10,000 skier visits per season.
“It looks like we could break 14,000. We’ll certainly have snow until the end of March.”
Club volunteers maintain 60 kllometres of trails near Lac Le Jeune, including 3.7 kilometres of lit trails for night skiers and five kilometres of trails where dogs are permitted. The network includes trails designated for snowshoeing, which has exploded in popularity.
“It’s tripled since last year. It’s just phenomenal.”
Vyse said the ski area compares favourably with other Nordic ski destinations around the province, attracting visitors from the Lower Mainland and Washington State.
The club hosted numerous events this season, including the Dirty Feet show shoe race, the Teck Okanagan Cup cross-country race and the Overlander Ski Club loppet. Another event, Ski for Light, enabled visually impaired skiers to take advantage of the trails.
They hope to take advantage of popularity to build momentum for the 2018 B.C. Winter Games. A recently completed stadium area near Stake Lake offers a venue for competitors and spectators. The club was part of the City bid process that recently won the right to host the event.
“We’re certainly ready and willing to be involved in the Games,” Vyse said.
Planned upgrades to the day lodge and addition of flush toilets at the parking/admission area are set to take place later this year. A three-year, $40,000 grant from the Blazers Foundation, along with grants from B.C. Gaming and Pacific Sport, will help pay for those improvements.
“We’re excited about that,” said club member David Takahashi. “It’s a really big boost.”
They’re also looking at extending the lit ski trails.
“Night skiing is really popular. Sometimes there are more people at night than during the day.”
Volunteer labour allows the club to hold fees at a modest level. Through an honour system, night skiers pay a reduced rate of $5 per visit. A day ski pass goes for $13.
The club operates the system on Crown land under contract with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.