Saskatoon

Winter groups growing in Saskatchewan as winter settles in

The warm weather may make some reach for the electric blanket, but organizers of winter groups say they're seeing growth among those ready to take on winter weather.

Cold temperatures are ready to return by the end of next week

The Buffalo Narrows Ski Club has grown substantially since it launched in the 2012-2013 season, ballooning from 12 members at its start to more than 100 current members. (Submitted by Matt Mazurik)

Saskatchewan experienced some warmer temperatures last week, but Environment Canada predicts both Saskatoon and Regina will see the mercury drop in the coming days. 

However, even though the colder weather will cause many to reach for a cup of hot chocolate and an electric blanket, there's no shortage of things to do outside in Saskatchewan, even during the winter months.

Aditi Garg is president of the group SaskOutdoors. She said with brighter daylight and a quieter environment, winter is the perfect time to get outside, whether it be building a fort for fun, or playing a round of winter-time nature bingo.

"We're not saying: 'go winter camping in the back country tomorrow,' but maybe you could start getting curious about going outside by learning to layer and learning how to dress for the weather," said Garg.

Aditi Garg, president of SaskOutdoors, spoke with Blue Sky about some of the ways people can get outdoors to embrace the winter weather that dominates much of the year here in Saskatchewan.

She said there are numerous locations she considers winter gems in Saskatchewan, noting she usually ventures out to Waskesiu or Duck Mountain for some frigid fun, as just because something is usually classified as a summer activity doesn't mean it won't compute in the cold. 

"A lot of people think of garbage clean up as something that can only be done in the summer or spring, but winter time is actually pretty great," she said. "Things aren't wet or sticky, or gooey, so it can sometimes be a little easier to pick stuff up." 

In the northern community of Buffalo Narrows, there's no shortage of people who are embracing the icy temperatures. 

Organizers of Buffalo Narrows Ski Club say they've seen exceptional growth since it launched during the 2012-13 season, climbing from roughly a dozen members to more than 100 currently.

Matt Mazurik is one of the group's co-founders and he said the growth has been satisfying to watch. 

"You start with nothing and then at the end, you come out with a pretty beautiful 13 kilometre network of trials, it makes you feel good," he said. "Especially when there are lots and lots of people out using them and appreciating them."

The growth has also been noted in sports outside of skiing, as the Boreal Outdoor Recreation Association (BORA), which maintains and builds forest trails around La Ronge, have seen more people eager to take on the lower temperatures.

Mike Maggrah, one of BORA's board members, said the 19 kilometres of non-motorized trails they groom and maintain are regularly frequented by fat-bike riders and snowshoers alike. 

The northern community of La Ronge can be seen in Northern Saskatchewan. Organizers with BORA say they're seeing more and more people coming out to take advantage of their trail system. (Google Maps)

"We've seen a lot more interest in it and there's a couple of other groups in Northern Saskatchewan that are sort of starting up and working on the same thing," he said.

"So, it seems like it's increasing and there's more and more interest, even in the last two or three years, so I can only think that it's going to improve as more people find out about it." 

Environment Canada predicts Saskatoon's temperature to be hovering around - 20 C with Regina hovering around - 19 C by the end of this week. 

With files from Blue Sky

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