COLUMNS: Perfect time of year for fun

The best days of winter in the Cariboo Chilcotin are now upon us.

The best days of winter in the Cariboo Chilcotin are now upon us.

Late January and early February is the time we begin to notice winter’s icy grip loosening and temperatures becoming milder. It means winter recreation is just beginning to hit its peak. We live in the perfect area for outdoor fun — especially in mid to late winter. It’s all right here at home — from exploring the backcountry and cross-country skiing, to ice fishing, snowshoeing and everything in between. The Williams Lake Winter Carnival takes place this weekend and is not to be missed. It’s at Boitanio Park on Saturday and Sunday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day.

Free activities include horse-drawn sleigh rides, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, plus skating at the Cariboo Memorial Complex.

Personally, I’m looking forward to judging the chili cook-off and sampling each delicious entry. Mild winter weather throughout the Chilcotin and Cariboo makes our region a popular getaway for people from all over the province, so there’s no reason for locals like us to travel anywhere else. Around Williams Lake, cross-country skiers can head for the 30 kilometres of trails at Bull Mountain, 16 km north of town, and to the Corner Lake Ski Trail near Horsefly. And of course, many people simply head out to their own favourite trails. There is downhill skiing and snowboarding at Mt. Timothy, 24 km east of Lac la Hache, which has a family-friendly ski hill and snowboard park, accessed by a quick T-bar or chairlift ride up the mountain.

The region from Williams Lake to 100 Mile House is famous for wide-open wilderness snowmobiling, and of course there is the Gold Rush Snowmobile Trail that stretches from Horsefly south to 70 Mile.

Snowshoeing is becoming more and more popular because it’s suitable for all ages and abilities. And for many people, there’s nothing like an outdoor skate on any of our hundreds of lakes and ponds — or ice fishing on a lazy weekend. Try doing that around Vancouver or Victoria! Yes, we have it all for winter recreation — and to top it off, we’re staying fit while strengthening our region’s economy.

Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.