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Sunday, March 3, 2019

Chilling out with icy adventures across Ontario; its a slippery slope


   One-Tank Trip for March 2/19

   (c) By Jim Fox

   There’s still time to “chill out” with icy adventures before they melt away.
   We’ve had more than our share of icy weather throughout the winter, leading the more hardy to embrace newer forms of slippery pursuits.
Snowkites and ice fishers dot Rice Lake at the Elmhirst Resort. (Photo by Justen Soule)
   One of the latest is snowkiting over a frozen lake along with ice climbing walls of frozen water.
   Also known as kite skiing, the sport involves using kite power on snow or ice similar to kiteboarding on water.
   Snowkiting is now big at Elmhirst Resort on Rice Lake, near Peterborough.
   This is because of Stephen Elmhirst’s “passion for the sport” as he’s recognized as a certified trainer and promotes the event year-round, said the resort’s Christine Painter.
   The resort offers introductory lessons and there’s an annual snowkiting weekend in January.

   Conditions have been “ideal” this winter with all the cold weather and the snow cover on the lake.
   Elmhirst (1045 Settlers Line) in Keene also has an outdoor skating rink on the lake, horse-drawn sleigh rides, snowshoeing, ice fishing and a Fire and Ice spa package. elmhirst.ca; 1-800-461-1940

   Walls of ice
   For those whose idea of embracing winter is scaling a wall of sheer ice on the face of a gorge or climbing a frozen waterfall can get their thrills in Elora and Ancaster.
Ice climbers brave the slippery slopes of the Elora Gorge. (One Axe Pursuits)
   Known for the scenic beauty of its gorge, Elora offers visitors a challenging 20-metre-high ice wall.
   It’s open to experienced climbers and beginners alike who can learn the ropes of ice climbing from experts with tour operator One Axe Pursuits.
   “We cater to people who want to really enjoy the winter and not hide from it,” said One Axe’s Christa Niravong.
   The company’s operation in Elora, northwest of Guelph, runs usually through the end of March.
   For perfect conditions, One Axe diverts water from Irvine Creek over the edge of the gorge so it can freeze and form the ice wall.
An ice climber is on the way up at Tiffany Falls in Ancaster. (One Axe Pursuits – The Heart of Ontario)
   There’s also an ice climbing site at Tiffany Falls in Ancaster, near Hamilton, operated by the company.
   Elora also has numerous trails around the gorge for snowshoeing, cross-county skiing, skating and tobogganing including at the Wellington County Museum and Archives. oneaxepursuits.com; (519) 846-8888
   Experience Hamilton’s waterfront at the Pier 8 outdoor rink while Burlington’s Discovery Landing has the huge Rotary Centennial Pond for recreational skating.
   Other for-free skating options are Harmony Square in Brantford and Terra Cotta Conservation Area with a frozen pond and trail. theheartofontario.com

   Dashing through the snow
   The province has a “full range of outside activities including snowmobiling, snowbiking and fatbiking – the winterized version of mountain biking,” said Helen Lovekin of Destination Ontario.
   There is also the most extensive, interconnected system of snowmobile trails anywhere with 30,000 kilometres maintained and supervised by local clubs. www.ofsc.on.ca
A snowbiker rides the trails in Wawa. (Northern Ontario Travel)
    Called the “younger, more hyperactive cousin of the snowmobile,” snowbikes or skibiking is the latest sport.
   It’s like riding a dirt bike but instead of wheels, it has two skis, with riders converting bikes.
   Some places are now renting them including Wawa where two-and three-day guided tours are offered.
   Fatbikes are zipping along winter trails and city streets with their extra wide tires that allow the mountain bikes to propel through most varieties of snow.
   Outfitters in the Muskoka region are especially big on fatbikes and the Old Railway Bike Trail in Algonquin Provincial Park is popular along with mountain biking trails in Torrance Barrens Conservation Area. ontariotravel.net

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Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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