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Williams Lake friends ski the distance to Vancouver on the local trails

Making tracks at Bull Mountain for over a decade

Longtime friends and retirees, Rick Nelson and Ray Hornby have been skiing together at Bull Mountain for over a decade.

Rick has been skiing at Bull Mountain for over 20 years, increasing his days on the snow since his retirement, Ray has been joining him for regular daytime skis once he retired as well.

“There used to be quite a bunch of us, and then over the years we’ve lost members due to illness and age and things like that,” said Nelson. “We find it quite a challenge because he’s got a GPS unit and we’ve been keeping track of how many kilometres over the years, so it’s been kind of fun, it makes it interesting.”

“As the year goes on, you can say ‘OK, I’m at 100 Mile now or I’m at Cache Creek or whatever.”

The goal by the end of the year is to make the equivalent of the distance to Vancouver, so just over 500 kilometres.

He estimates they ski the trails 40 or 50 times a season, depending on conditions.

In the 10 years they have been keeping track, the pair think they have skied an estimated four or five thousand kilometres in total, nearly the equivalent of skiing across Canada.

Rick is 80 and still loves getting out on the trails.

“I really like it, it’s great exercise.”

“I would come up here every day if I could, as long as my body will let me and the conditions are OK.”

This year there have been a lot of challenges to making kilometres though, as early season snow was deep but hard for groomers to pack due to it being so light and deep and the temperatures being so cold in December.

The pair are less likely to be out in the cold weather than in previous years.

“I’m behind this year. Last year this time I had 16 (visits), this year I’m at 11.”

The pair are also both on the Williams Lake Cross Country Ski Club executive.

Ray helps maintain trails by clearing trees and also organizes the grader to maintain the road for access to the trails.

Rick helped with the club’s firewood sale fundraiser and coordinated the clearing of the proposed site for the new day lodge facility. A wildfire crew from the Cariboo Fire Centre provided some of the labour to make that happen last fall.

“Just whatever we can do to help out, keep the place running,” said Rick.

“Since we’re out here so much, it’s easy for us to see what the conditions are like and talk to people.”

Rick is looking forward to seeing the day lodge built, the club’s goal is to have it ready by next season.

“It’s big. It just makes this more of a destination and people can come up and enjoy it and then actually stay afterwards.”

He thinks it will be a massive asset to parents with kids in the Jackrabbits skiing program.

The club is still working on fundraising for the finishing of the day lodge.

“It’s getting busier and busier, it’s really nice to see,” Rick commented.

Read More: Williams Lake’s cross country ski trails a dog’s favourite

Read More: Williams Lake club bringing new cross country ski lodge to Bull Mountain

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Ruth Lloyd

About the Author: Ruth Lloyd

I moved back to my hometown of Williams Lake after living away and joined the amazing team at the Williams Lake Tribune in 2021.
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