Marsh Lake Classic Cross Country Ski Loppet competitors should keep an eye out for the trails’ newest residents — a group of six moose.
“I was out setting the trail and I came upon them,” said Jim Healy, the loppet’s chief of course.
The moose seemed rather cavalier about the presence of the noisy grooming machine.
“They just stepped off the trail, watched me go by, and stepped back on again.”
Healy said the moose moved into the area around Christmas and have been seen regularly on the trail and in backyards throughout the community ever since.
“I think they like using the trail, it’s nicer than walking through the bush,” laughed Healy, who didn’t appear too upset about his groomed course being mucked up by hoofprints — although it does make for more work.
Having found such an ideal spot, it doesn’t seem like the moose will be leaving anytime soon.
Healy wants to make sure word gets out about them, and that skiers know not to approach, or as he put it, “get too cuddly.”
The Marsh Lake loppet, now in its 13th year, has had a fair share of wildlife sightings in the past, with plenty of caribou standing by as skiers huff and puff past.
This year, in particular, wildlife appear to be booming along the trail.
“We’ve had a peak year for rabbits out here, so there’s been a lot of foxes and coyotes and I’ve even seen a wolf,” said Healy.
One of the most popular winter sporting events, the loppet regularly attracts more than 300 skiers of all skill levels and ages.
“We encourage families to go out together, parents with their little kids,” said Healy. “Part of the appeal is that the race is open to everyone.”
This year’s race is being dedicated to the late Peter Milner, who was instrumental in starting the loppet when he lived at Marsh Lake.
And the loppet will have a new base of operations — the new Marsh Lake Community Centre.
The Marsh Lake Classic Cross Country Ski Loppet runs Saturday, February 10 — the first race starts at noon.
Registration ends on February 5. Tickets are available at Coast Mountain Sports and Tom’s Variety.