Huffington Post says, “You’re not Canadian until you’ve skated through a forest in the dead of winter.”
And while I’m not ready to go that far, forest skating did feel pretty Canadian.
Being able to skate at all feels very Canadian to me. I learned to skate when I started school, just after moving to Grand Falls, Newfoundland, Canada from England. My father learned with me but shortly after that I was zooming around the rink leaving him behind. Like most Canadian kids, I skated with school for physical education classes, trundling over to the rink carrying our skates. I took figure skating for a few years until it got too fancy, dance-y, and frilly.
Later, with my own kids, I started skating again. I’m not very good, a bit wobbly, but I still love it. When we were on sabbatical in Australia and New Zealand, and we wanted to feel competent at a sport, we went skating. They have ice rinks, they rent skates, and there we felt like stars on ice. Our average Canadian skating ability put us in pretty elite group at a family skate in the southern hemisphere.
But back to skating in the woods this weekend, without kids, not in a skating rink. Instead, outdoors! The woods! My favorite place to be.
What is it? It’s an ice trail through the forest. So cool. They’ve flooded a road connecting campsites and they maintain the ice surface with a zamboni.
There’s an outdoor fire place where you change and outdoor lockers to store your boots.
I loved the woods which seemed to block the wind. Previously my outdoor skating had been on open lakes, ponds, and rivers and so wind was definitely a factor.
The slight inclines, both up and down, presented a new challenge. I’d never skated up or downhill before. Also, no boards to hang on to when you’re taking a break or retying your laces.
There was a great range of ages. Lots and lots of little kids but also some speedy senior citizens whipping around holding hands.
Jeff and I ended up skating in part because our cross country ski plans were set back. We arrived at the park on the day of the Muskoka Loppet, a cross country ski race, and all the ski trails, the easy ones anyway, were in use.
So we skated for a bit instead.
Some evenings they light the trail with by tiki lanterns so you can skate through the woods after dark. I’d love to do that!