Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

Coping with COVID: Have a snow day

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Stay on track with cross-country skiing


View from Cypress to Vancouver Island. Photo by Julie Cheng
It’s a breathtaking view from Hollyburn’s Powerline trail to Vancouver Island. Photos by Julie Cheng

Feeling cooped up with the provincial COVID restrictions and the non-stop Vancouver rain? When I used to be cooped up all day with my young kids, I’d hand them off to my husband at 6 pm and escape by myself for a night ski at Hollyburn Ridge on Cypress Mountain. Often when it was raining down here, it’d be snowing up there.

I don’t mean downhill skiing or snowboarding, but the immersion-with-nature experience of cross-country skiing.

Each winter more than 2.7 million Canadians and 240,000 Vancouverites take to cross-country trails, according to the Canadian Ski Council (Facts + Stats 2017–18).

A winter workout

Cross-country skiing is a great way to stay energized and keep fit while enjoying the outdoors.

It’s a whole-body winter sport that improves circulation, strengthens the immune system, detoxifies the body and relieves stress. I find the combination of exercise and fresh air gives me a good night’s sleep. Best of all, cross-country skiing is easy on the knees and joints.

Sport for all ages

Cross-country skiing is an easy way for beginners to enjoy snow sports. Photo by Julie Cheng
Cross-country skiing is an easy way for beginners to enjoy snow sports.

The whole family can enjoy cross-country skiing.

My youngest was three when she started. We’d head to Hollyburn Lodge for a hot chocolate and vegetarian chili to warm up. Just remember to bundle up with layers and keep everyone’s hands and feet warm and dry.

Enthusiasts pull their toddlers in a special sled and get a great workout at the same time. Many older skiers who fly by me are in terrific shape for their age.

It’s easy to start learning with classic cross-country skis – just think walking/gliding on skis in groomed tracks. Once you become more advanced, you may want try skate skiing, which can be an even better cardio workout.

Nature’s magic

The quiet swish of skis over snow is one of the great joys of winter. It’s peaceful and rejuvenating to wind along mountain trails and breathe in the fresh forest air. The scenery can be breathtaking.

I always end my ski on Cypress by going down the Powerline trail where, on a clear day, you can see all the way to Vancouver Island.

One afternoon, the clouds lifted and the sun peaked out, revealing Nanaimo in the distance. The sun glowed red then disappeared over the horizon. It was magical.

As I drove down the mountain, I slipped below the clouds and back into the dreary city. But I wasn’t feeling cooped up anymore.

Local cross-country ski trails are found on Hollyburn Ridge’s nordic area on Cypress Mountain – a 40-minute drive from Vancouver. There are 19 kilometres of trails for beginner to expert skiiers, including 7.5 km of trails lit for night skiing. If you want to get away from the crowds, especially during these COVID times, ski to the top. The initial uphill burn on your lungs and legs will be worth the effort when you catch all the trails going downhill the rest of the way. These days you need to purchase tickets and ski rentals online and wear a mask on site. Visit

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