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Author: Travel Alberta

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My girlfriends and I gave ourselves a challenge this winter – a fitness challenge. It’s tempting to hibernate for the season but as we’re discovering, it’s much more rewarding to stay active. As part of our adventure in fitness, we committed to a weekend of cross-country skiing.

Once we’d done some basic research on the benefits of this sport, our Nordic experiment began to make sense. Did you know that Nordic skiers have twice the cardiovascular and muscular fitness as those who aren’t active? And even when compared to other athletes, Nordic skiers live longer and healthier lives? Now we just needed a place to go and a place to stay.

Heaven near Hinton

The Big Bear Cabin at Entrance Ranch turned out to be a spacious yet cozy log cabin getaway for the five of us and just 10 minutes from Hinton and our ski destination. Upon arrival, we unloaded our rented ski gear and stocked the fridge with breakfasts and lunches for the weekend. The red wine is next for unpacking and soon we are gathered around the wood fireplace.

The next morning, we set out for the Hinton Nordic Centre in William A. Switzer Provincial Park, a quiet place of pine, spruce and aspen forests. We stashed our lunches at the rustic day lodge, studied the trail maps and geared up.

With 35 km (22 mi) of groomed trails, the area is ideal for beginners and experts, as well as skate and classic skiers. We decided on the newbie-friendly Boogie Trail and spent the next hour trying to glide elegantly like the experienced skiers whizzing past us.

By the afternoon we found our groove. A couple of us hit Barf Hill where we had many a tumble trying to herringbone up the hill and a few spills snowplowing down – a fitness challenge indeed but accompanied by gales of laughter.

Fine Dining with Mountain Views

After a solid day’s work on skis, we drove just 15 minutes west of Hinton for a gourmet experience at Stone Peak Restaurant in the Overlander Lodge. We take in a memorable mountain sunset from our window table while waiting for our artisan salads to arrive. Our server had helped us make selections from the award-winning wine list, as well as healthy choices from the mouth-watering entrees like seafood risotto, Chinook salmon fillet, and chicken breast stuffed with spinach, black beans and goat cheese. We toast to a successful first day out as the stars begin to emerge in the clear evening sky and pledge that our adventure in cross-country skiing will become a regular winter activity. And of course, no one will be stiff or sore in the morning.

Activity Highlights
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Unique Stays
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