This past Sunday, my friends Maria and Kim, and I, along with our three dogs, set out for our first cross-country ski of the year. We decided to head out to beautiful Gros Morne National Park.
We left Corner Brook around 9 am and parked our cars near the trailhead a little before 10:30 am. The trail we chose is part of a network of 14.7 km of classic trails, groomed as weather permits, according to the Parks Canada website (more info on Gros Morne cross-country ski trails found here). We entered at the Wigwam Pond end which is located approximately 1 km north of Wiltondale. A pull-out on the left hand side of the road provides ample space for parking. The actual trailhead is further north down the road, approximately a one minute walk.
To prepare for this ski, I dressed in layers to help regulate my temperature and prevent the dreaded winter sweat (some of which is inevitable). My favourite base layers are merino wool, which I find less smelly compared to polyester base layers when you start working up a sweat. We opted for individual lunches this time, and I grabbed leftover homemade pizza, an apple, some trail mix and a fig bar. I also carried 2 litres of water, enough for my pooch and I. Also stuffed in my backpack were an extra pair of both socks and mittens, and a lighter.
The trail itself was sheltered, weaving through a predominantly fir and birch forest. It was also mostly flat, and well-groomed on the day we were out, although tracks were not yet set. There were some bumps at beginning of trail that needed to be skied around. The trail was lightly undulating at a couple of points with two steeper downhill sections. There were also sections where shrubs were sticking out of the snow, and sometimes unavoidable. With several snowy days in the forecast, this shouldn’t be an issue for much longer!
After a 4.5 km ski in, we arrived at the hut for lunch! The hut is a small publicly accessible shelter. Cozy, with a woodstove and picnic table taking up about half the space, it is also furnished with a Coleman stove, tea kettle, paper and a pile of chopped birch (which of course is not always guaranteed). It’s a great place to warm lunch on the fire, dry any damp mittens and relax! We lit a fire and the space heated up very quickly.
Unfortunately, someone hacked away at parts of the window frames to use them for kindling, creating holes where cold air is able to enter. Not cool! There was also an outhouse beside the cabin, however the snow was very deep, making it difficult to access on foot.
The ski back was equally pleasant, and to our surprise we did not come across any fellow skiers on the trail. All in all, a great day!
To get up-to-date information on the condition of cross-country ski trails in Gros Morne National Park, go to the trail report page.
Guest Post by Erin Fletcher