Suburban Ski Day

A sunny Sunday afternoon in January was the perfect day to go check out a few kilometers of trails through a local green (winter white) space in the Edmonton suburbs.

I thought Sundays were for run days, you ask?

That too.

But with my knee-hab progressing at the snails pace that injured ligaments are wont to do, I made my rounds at the gym this morning logging some klicks on the stationary bike then logging a couple klicks of running intervals on the treadmill and…

Those ski trails through the vast swath of snow in the utility corridor were calling.

By chance we live near a utility corridor. There are at least two of these in the city that run laterally, east to west, across the suburbs. About fifty meters wide and spanning the width of the whole city, ish, their purpose is to leave some big open space to run transmission powerlines or major infrastructure without going over, around or through homes. And since there only a minimal day-to-day danger associated with well constructed infrastructure, the utility corridors become huge greenspaces where the only development that can legally occur is an asphalt path or an unfixed trash bucket.

If you live right up against one of these corridors (and many people do) you are, of course, dealing with the generally unsightly view of massive power transmission towers out your back window.

If (instead, like me) you live just a few blocks away, you are less bothered by the view but still close enough to walk to a place where long straight asphalt trails make great running paths or groomed ski trails emerge mysteriously in the winter and stretch for kilometers upon kilometers of gently rolling straightaways.

We parked in the recreation centre parking lot adjacent to where the ski trails passed and hopped aboard, exploring for an hour of exhausting skiing on a Sunday afternoon.

My knee was a bit tender from my morning workout, but in the end it was a perfect day for some low-impact outdoor sport, and a bit of suburban skiing adventure, too.

Public Service Announcement: Ski Trails Aren’t Walking Trails

To be clear, everything that follows is NOT about either an inflated feeling of entitlement or a misperception of my rights. Public parks are public places for everyone to enjoy.


But imagine a huge suburban field covered in snow.

After a long winter, that field will almost always be crisscrossed with trails of various sorts. People of all ages trudge through the snow and make walking paths. Animals run into the crisp snowfall and tramp down courses. A maintenance vehicle might drive through to clear a path or empty trash. And skiers lay tracks that are groomed by repeated use into great recreational loops.

Yet, even after a months-long winter these paths need rarely cross.

Walking paths can pack and trace to useful places like benches, sledding hills, ice rinks.

Ski trails can loop and whorl away from the walking trails.

Even with almost no planning or coordination, the two uses of this space need never interfere with each other and still but a mere fraction of the field of snow be disturbed.

So, it was a little upsetting that after a week of work to cut, groom, regroom, use, groom yet again, and eventually make into a useful ski trail…. that someone decided to use that trail as a walking path and crush the effort that myself and other local cross-country skiers had put into building our trails.

Again, we’re not entitled to respect of those trails, but it has long been an unspoken courtesy that unless it is unavoidable or has cut through a high traffic area, you DON’T walk on ski trails.

Walk on the walking paths.

Ski on the skiing paths.

And we all get along.

There’s no sign. There’s no law. There’s no one to yell and say ‘no’ when someone does this. There’s no tit-for-tat revenge plot. There’s nothing at all whatsoever stopping someone from doing this.

It’s just kinda rude and frustrating. Unneighbourly.

Thanks for understanding.