The Parkland AGM and all tours have been cancelled to prevent the spread of COVID-19

Thanks to all who come out regularly and share out great travel presentations. Given the increase in precautionary measures announced by the Alberta Government, and the reality that things will get worse in the next month – we have decided to cancel our social gatherings including the AGM. Lets enjoy the ski trails in relative isolation – it beats sitting about the house -thank goodness for winter!

IF YOU NEED FINANCIAL SUPPORT – CLICK HERE FOR RESOURCES

Stay safe and we hope to see you in the fall!

Next meeting to be determined at
Kerry Wood Nature Centre at 7:30pm 

Please let us know what adventures you are enjoying – post to the Parkland Cross Country Ski Club Facebook page!

Everyone is welcome to join!

A special thank you to the departing executive for all your contributions!!

  • Register for club membership
  • Sign up for mountain tours and courses at our meetings or contact Kelly Bogle
  • Scroll down for recent trip reports!
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  • Kerry Wood Nature Centre 6300 45 Ave, Red Deer, AB



Covid-19 Financial Support

Government Measures as of Mar 20, 2020

The Provincial and Federal governments have announced a number of measures to help Albertan’s deal with the economic issues associated with COVID-19. Some are automatic, and some you must apply for. The list below identifies some of what is available as of Mar 20/20.  All websites referenced in this document as links are shown on the last page.

This information is not exhaustive and is subject to change and correction by the governments. Watch the following sites for updates and more information:

Provincial programs:

Federal programs:

  •   Canada.ca for Covid-19 related information
  • Check here for a directory of services and programs
  • Call the toll-free number only if you absolutely cannot find what you need online (super busy) at 1-800 O Canada or 1-800-622-6232

government programs You must apply for

Provincial Emergency Isolation Support: You must apply – look for it at alberta.ca next week!

  • This will be a temporary program for working adult Albertans who must self-isolate because they meet the Government of Alberta’s published criteria for self-isolation, including persons who are the sole caregiver for a dependent who must self-isolate because they meet the public health criteria, and who will not have another source of pay or compensation while they are self-isolated.
  • It will be distributed in one payment instalment and will bridge the gap until the federal emergency payments begin in April.
  • The program is planned by the government to be accessible by a simple online application through alberta.ca next week and that funds will be deposited in the accounts of eligible recipients beginning at that time.

Provincial Banks and credit unions

ATB Financial customers impacted by COVID-19 – look here for more information

  • Personal banking customers can apply for a deferral on their ATB loans, lines of credit, and mortgages for up to six months.
  • Small business customers, in addition to payment deferrals on loans and lines of credit, will be provided access to additional working capital.
  • For other business and agriculture customers, ATB will work with customers on a one-on-one basis and further solutions are being considered at this time.

Alberta credit unions – contact your credit union directly

  • Credit union members will have access to a variety of programs and solutions designed to ease difficulties with loan payments and short-term cash flow.
  • Both individual and business members are encouraged to proactively contact their credit union directly to work out a plan for their personal situation.

Heat and power utility payment deferral – contact your providers directly

  • Residential, farm, and small commercial customers can defer bill payments for the next 90 days to ensure no one will be cut off from these services during this time of crisis.
  • This will cover electricity and natural gas, regardless of the service provider.

Federal Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits

  • up to 15 weeks of financial assistance if you cannot work for medical reasons. You could receive 55% of your earnings up to a maximum of $573 a week
  • you must apply for this – look here to find more information

government programs You may benefit from automatically

Provincial programs publicized to date:

Provincial student loans repayment holiday

  • The government will implement a six-month, interest-free moratorium on Alberta student loan repayments for all individuals who are in the process of repaying these loans.

Employers

  • The government of Alberta will defer the collection of corporate income tax balances and instalment payments, due after today, until Aug. 31, 2020.

Federal programs publicized to date:

GST Rebate

  • A one-time payment to low- and modest-income individuals and couples averaging $400 per individual or $600 per couple – scheduled for early May 2020.

Canada Child Benefit increase for the 2019-20 year

  • For families with children, who may also require additional support, the Government is proposing to increase the maximum annual Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment amounts, only for the 2019-20 benefit year, by $300 per child – included with the May payment.

Federal student loans repayment holiday

  • The government will implement a six-month, interest-free moratorium on Canada student loan repayments for all individuals who are in the process of repaying these loans.

RRIF changes

  • Reducing required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25% for 2020

Tax Payment and Filing Flexibility

  • For individuals (other than trusts), the return filing due date will be deferred until June 1, 2020.  However, the Agency encourages individuals who expect to receive benefits under the GSTC or the Canada Child Benefit not to delay the filing of their return to ensure their entitlements for the 2020-21 benefit year are properly determined.
  • For trusts having a taxation year ending on December 31, 2019, the return filing due date will be deferred until May 1, 2020.
  • All taxpayers may defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18, 2020 and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. 

Government Programs in the Works

For more information about assistance, please see the websites for each level of government listed above.

Income Support

  • Federal Emergency Support Benefit delivered through the CRA to provide up to $5.0 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment
  • EI Work Sharing Program, which provides EI benefits to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hour as a result of developments beyond the control of their employers, by extending the eligibility of such agreements to 76 weeks, easing eligibility requirements, and streamlining the application process. This was announced by the Prime Minister on March 11, 2020.

Programs for Indigenous and Metis populations; people experiencing homelessness and people experiencing domestic violence are also being planned.

Let’s ski under the full moon!

Tuesday night’s “meeting” is a social ski and campfire at Little Chief Park. Bring your skis (or don’t) and anything you wish to roast over the fire. We will gather at 7:00 Feb 11th in the cook shelter and ski, chat, and have a good time. We’ll supply the hot chocolate – you bring whatever else you want (including reusable dishes and cutlery. We have lots of mugs. See you there! There will be no meeting at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre this month.

Cascade Fire Road 2020

Cold, cold, cold…

cold, cold, cold!

Ice climbers and skiers alike hung around the kitchen table at the Canmore Alpine Club clubhouse longer on Saturday morning than planned as we waited out the finale of our -30 week. Plan B involved heading in to Canmore for a walk along the river before lunch. Then we headed out to Lake Minnewanka in the afternoon for a shortened ski up the Cascade fire road. Our leaders (thank you!) were Dion and Linda. John, Amanda, Diane and I made up the rest of the group on Jan. 18th. Nice to get out!

The group split up after: a couple of us soaked in the Hot Springs while others headed back to Alpine Club House and heated up Amanda’s yummy dip for us. We had decided on a menu full of Mexican foods (heat!) to take us out of the -30 realities. Las cervezas, enchiladas, verduras y pasteles eran excelentes. Spent another relaxed evening around the fireplace.

Warmer temperatures welcomed us Sunday morning when we headed to West Bragg Creek Provincial Park. We found a diversity of trails to accommodate fat bikes, skiers, and snowshoers. And a diverse group of skiers…folks like us on classic skis, skate skiers, 10-year olds happily making their way on own. Many dogs too! Some had owners who could control them around other skiers and others have owners yet to learn how to do that! After a couple of hours skiing each day and we arrived back in Red Deer around 4:30. NIce to get away.

Submitted by Nancy Bain

Elk Lakes Hut 2018

 

Frequent communication and conjecture were the order of proceedings in the lead up to our departure for the Elk Lakes ski tour.  After communication via about 4000 text messages re: transport logistics we (Lisa Marr-Laing, Nancy Bain, Linda Dicken, Amanda Brosius and yours truly, Jane McCallum) were on our way to Kananaskis, with Kelly and Richard to follow later. I was excited as this was my first back-country ski trip in Canada; but disappointed that Peter was unable to come as he was ill.

Conjecture about snow conditions continued during the trip – should we bother with skis, skins, what wax, what type of skis?  Indeed, would there be any snow – should we take hiking boots, and if so, would we need ice crampons?  We consulted Skier Bob and made the call that skiing was the go (but take your hiking boots just in case).

The “take your hiking boots in case” approach is something we are very familiar with in Australia where the snow can be marginal to non-existent.  All the discussion about skins, wax, type of skis was a bit beyond me, as down under, an old pair of fish-scaled skis serves me and Peter well.

Capably chauffeured by Linda, we arrived at Ribbon Creek Hostel on Friday night after a detour to the University of Calgary to collect all, (well almost all), our rental gear.

Everyone was on skis, (well almost everyone), by 9:45am at the Elk Lake car park Saturday morning and we were off.

As snow, unfortunately, had not eventuated overnight, the discussion about snow conditions continued.  I was in heaven, on skis, with snow all around and thinking the conditions were pretty darn good.  Given that my ‘terms of reference’ re: snow quality are from a place where, in the snow ice, rocks, bare ground, and tree roots are the norm, I kept my mouth shut and listened.  The consensus was that the snow was ‘surprisingly good for the time of year’.  Light snow on Saturday night and until mid-morning on Sunday night made it even better for the return trip.

Saturday’s ski to Elk Lakes Hut was 12km with a few rest stops, one at the Blueberry Hill Trail picnic table to refuel, check the pulks and put on/pull off skins.

Lunch at Blueberry Hill turnoff 

We took a leisurely 3 hours 53 minutes to get to Elk Hut, ascending 343 metres.  Richard led the way, often leaving his pack at the top of an ascent and skiing back down to check on us. 

Nancy and Linda with pulks.

Everyone was incredibly impressed with Nancy and Linda’s ability to ski with great control both up and on some tricky descents with their pulks behaving well behind them.  More impressive was Lisa’s ability to keep up with us without skis.

“Skis are overrated…”

Our speedy and incident-free descent, (even though we encountered what Kelly called a ‘dipsy doodle), from Elk Pass to the hut followed the road as the snow conditions on the trail were a bit dodgy.

Our dinner at Elk Hut was sumptuous as well as copious – we all seriously over catered.  Appetizers, fabulous turkey with stuffing, gravy, potatoes, cranberry sauce, a great salad and yummo desert ensured we had sufficient fuel for perhaps the next year’s skiing.

Elk Lakes Hut is super comfortable with a wood burning stove, a large loft sleeping platform that doubled as a sauna (the fire sure warms up the place), two comfortable eating areas and a reasonably well-equipped kitchen with propane stoves, an oven plus propane lanterns.

The crew at the cabin before the return journey.

Light snow made Sunday’s ski even more enjoyable.  We had ample energy, fuelled by unbelievable breakfast pancakes courtesy of Kelly and Richard.  Cookies from Kelly plus Tim Tam biscuits, (famous Australian cookies, guaranteed to help you cope with Aussie accents and humour), at Elk Pass ensured that everyone’s energy levels were appropriate for the descent.  Four Tim Tams could be deemed excessive, but we all agreed tour leaders burn up lots of energy, especially when they are in hiking boots trying to keep up with skiers…

Sunday lunch at Elk Pass.

Almost tropical plummage!

Back at the car park with huge smiles on our faces after 3 hours and 48 minutes of skiing we set off for a very snowy trip back to Red Deer – thanks Linda for the great driving .

Bouquets to all for a terrific introduction to back-country skiing in Canada.  Looking forward to the next gig.

The author

Great Divide Trail

Great Divide
Snow, snow and more snow was the theme of our trip to Lake Louise. The forecast was for cold in Central Alberta but warmer in the mountains and maybe a bit of sunshine on Sunday. Ha! Mother Nature, as she so frequently does, decided to change things up a bit. Friday was a bit snowy but everyone of our group of eight arrived safe and sound at the Lake Louise Hostel.

Waking up Saturday morning to a winter wonderland of beautiful powder snow and lots of it. It was colder than we had anticipated; about -16 degrees (plus a wind chill) but that did not bother our group of dedicated skiers. We were all very excited to hit the trail and we arrived at the trailhead at about 10:00 am.

The Great Divide Trail is about 7.5 km one-way. It is double track set with a skating lane. A dogsled operation runs on its own track for the first 2 km. This trail follows the old 1A Highway and it is fairly flat with some gently rolling stretches. It ends at the Great Divide exhibit and picnic area on the Banff – Yoho National Park boundary.

While the track had been groomed the previous day we did have to do a fair bit of trail breaking through all of the fresh snow. We had hoped our later start might have allowed for a few other skiers before us but we were the first to get out. Everyone took turns at this and that made the work a lot easier.

There were very few skiers on the trail on Saturday but we did meet up with a few.  And we saw the dog sleds going as well. That looks like a bit of fun too.

The trip to the Great Divide signpost marker took about two hours. We did stop briefly for a snack and warm drinks. Thanks to our trip leader Linda and co-leader Lisa for checking on everyone and ensuring we were all doing OK with the weather and trail conditions.

 

At the halfway mark, we had lunch and a brief rest before turning back.

The return trip was easier in that the trail was a bit better packed and the glide was much improved. At about thirteen km we met a group of skiers coming out of one of the side trails. After chatting with them we decided to take a little detour to explore the trail through the woods. That was a ton of fun. A few really nice hills to glide down, still pretty wide so lots of room to manoeuvre if needed. The shelter from the trees provided a nice break from the wind. After this delightful detour we got back on the main trail and finished up at exactly 16 km from start to finish in four hours.
To refresh ourselves and replenish our energy reserves we decided a top at Laggan’s for a warm drink and a snack was a great idea. Delicious!

Back at the hostel, a number of folks decided the sauna was a definite must, a few others thought just a rest in the lounge area would suffice. The sauna at the hostel is great. It really helped warm up and loosen muscles.

A tradition on the ski trips is to share a meal together. A wonderful array of appetizers before supper served in the lounge and then supper. What a feast! Lasagne, spanokopita, salad, tabouli, a beautiful variety of dessert treats and excellent wines made for a wonderful meal. After the meal we “retired” to the lounge area, got a beautiful fire going and thoroughly enjoyed the company and conversation. Not too much later the good food and the activity of the day caught up to most of us and off to bed.

Sunday morning was clear but COLD -20 plus a wind chill. The group, ever optimistic, decided to get to the Cascade Trail and hope the weather was warmer. Unfortunately, it remained at -20, so the decision was to drive to Canmore in search of warmer temperatures and possibly ski at the Nordic Centre. After a coffee break at Beamers, the decision was to go for a walk and then head back to Red Deer. And that is what we did. A nice walk along the river allowed us to chat a bit more and get to know how trip partners even more. Lovely!


Thanks to Linda D. and Lisa M-L for leading us. Thanks to Nancy B., John D., Tatiana T. and Jochen T. and Neil K. for the super fun weekend. And thanks to Tatiana for providing many of the great pictures.