Winter Hike Program Column – – by Martina Furrer

Over the years, the winter coach program has brought us many happy adventures. I’m grateful for all the fun we’ve had, the many friends I’ve made, and everything I’ve learned since I became your winter program director in 2013.

I inherited a well-loved and well-established program. Without Nina Carlisle and Wayne Crockett’s many years of hard work, the winter program wouldn’t be what it is today. Nina ran the program when registration was still done over the phone and snow and trail reports were only available by calling resorts. I can’t imagine how many hours of work this required. Thanks to Nina, Wayne and Stephen Kamnitzer the Club had an easy to use online registration system by the time I stepped in. It served us well for many years and I will always be grateful for Stephen’s ongoing support and timely troubleshooting.

During my first season as winter program director I decided we should move away from phone registrations entirely and no longer accepted registrations via the hike line. One member was not happy with this change and told me I should “quit and never volunteer for anything again”. Needless to say, I didn’t listen to her. Happier memories include searching for snowy owls (thanks Barbara Euler and Fred Wachta), snow dancing with Emma Rosal, snow tubing at Arrowhead, soaking in the outdoor hot tub at the Auberge du Vieux Foyer in Val-David at -30 C with Sophie Chuchra, and skiing in magical winter wonderlands (remember all that fresh fluffy snow at Far Hills?).

Challenges have kept things interesting. What to do when the trip leader cancels at 6 AM on the day of a trip due to a big snowstorm the night before? Sophie to the rescue. What to do when you think you’ve lost two skiers after the first afternoon of your first ever winter weekend trip? Knock on Christine Gagnon and David Douville’s door to ask for assistance should a search become necessary. So happy everyone looks out for each other. There have been other incidences too like “stolen” sunglasses, snowshoes left on the bus in the morning, skiers with the same first name mixing up their skis, a jacket and watch forgotten in the middle of the sidewalk, and a hiker with icers on backwards. It turns out you can never be too clear with directions.

Our winter fun wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of many dedicated volunteers. A big thank you to all the hike leaders who make these trips possible. Some, like Duro Vukman (helping an injured participant) and Marie-Josée Roy (taking the group on an après shoe visit to a wintery Wasaga Beach) have gone above and beyond to look after participants and make trips memorable. Thank you also to all the members and guests who continue to join us for winter fun.

I hope winter coach trips will be possible again in 2022 and I’m looking forward to more adventures, ski lessons, and après ski and shoe parties (with Lisa Lifshitz’s cake).