The future is bright for evening skiers

Land of the Midnight Sun should be considered a seasonal nickname. During the winter season, dusk can hit hours before the evening.

Land of the Midnight Sun should be considered a seasonal nickname. During the winter season, dusk can hit hours before the evening. However, the early twilight hours once again pose no obstacle to Whitehorse Cross-Country Ski Club members.

Thanks to government, corporate and individual sponsors, the club’s trail lights at Mt. McIntyre are operational and better than ever. Shining down on two separate loops, evening skiers (and snowshoers) now have a total of five kilometres of lighted trails to enjoy once the sun goes down.

“It was the contribution of the local community that made this project a success,” said club president Tom Ullyett, in a press release. “The Whitehorse Cross-Country Ski Club appreciates the support from all project sponsors.”

The poles used for the lights were donated by Yukon Electric Co. Ltd. and came from other refurbishing projects from within the territory.

“They’re older poles, but they’re much better (than the ones that were there),” said Mike Gladish, the club’s manager. “The ones we had in the ground were 60 years old. There used to be telegraph poles along the Haines highway and I think that’s where they came from,” he added, referring to the original light poles.

“New lights would have cost us probably $1,000 apiece, these ones were probably $400 to have them reconditioned. They made some changes in them so they could take different light bulbs.”

The original five-kilometre lighted trail, which dates back to 1975, was reworked in the mid-1990s and now consists of two loops, a two-kilometre and a three-kilometre one.

To save electricity, the new lighting system is hooked up to a temperature sensor that cuts the power when the weather drops to minus 30.

“Well, I know it’s working,” said Gladish, pointing out that frigid temperatures have kept the lights off in recent nights. “Normally we have it set so the lights come on at sundown Monday to Friday — and they turn off automatically at 9:30 p.m. — but the temperature sensor overrides solar sensor and the timing clock.”

To celebrate the completion of the lighting project, the club is hosting a Poker Rally January 21 at 7 p.m. Skiers are invited to ride the trails, collecting random playing cards at five different stations.

“When people arrive back at the chalet, we’ll put them in teams of two, they’ll put their 10 cards together and they’ll pick out the best poker hand,” said Gladish.

“In the public eye we’re racing oriented and we’re always looking for ways to make it a recreational event that not racing oriented, but just for fun.”

Contact Tom Patrick at