Yellowknifer builds groomer used to clear Frame Lake ski trail after snowfall

·2 min read
Kurt De Blieck has been grooming the Frame Lake ski trails, using a homemade contraption. (Natalie Pressman/ CBC - image credit)
Kurt De Blieck has been grooming the Frame Lake ski trails, using a homemade contraption. (Natalie Pressman/ CBC - image credit)

Kurt De Blieck says his Australian shepherds need daily exercise, which is why he's regularly out skiing on the Frame Lake trail.

"I wouldn't say I'm very good, it's more just to get out and get the dogs out for a walk," he says.

Although cross country skiing is a great way to pass the long winter, the trail can be difficult to navigate after a snowfall, De Blieck says. Which is why he built a groomer that has been attached to his snowmobile to clear the trail for other skiers.

De Blieck says it took him two weekends to build the trail groomer which mainly involved materials from his own yard and wood that he picked up at a salvage event near government dock in Old Town.

He says he found a prototype online and went from there.

Copyright 2021. All rights reserved.
Copyright 2021. All rights reserved.

De Blieck's groomer was made to clear trails used for both cross country and skate skiing. He says he took on the responsibility because he heard another Yellowknifer, who previously kept the Frame Lake trail cleared each year, is moving away.

De Blieck says he lives near the trail and plans to clear it after every significant snowfall.

He says he has already put the groomer to work and cleared the trail, which has received a positive response from skiers.

"I just hope everybody has fun on the trails," De Blieck says. "And have a good time in the winter, it's a long one."

A scenic winter exercise

Skiers in Hay River have their own community member to thank for providing cleared trails.

Chuck Lirette, who has been involved with the Hay River Ski Club since the early 2000's, says clearing the trails takes him about six hours to complete, but it's not a chore for him.

Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada
Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada

"I enjoy being out there on the skidoo and in nature," he says.

And there's no shortage of beautiful scenery while out there.

"You'll see different birds and sometimes you'll see rabbits and the occasional fox when you're out. But there's a lot of variety on the trails here."

Lirette says he also enjoys providing a vital service that allows families to get exercise during the cold winter months.

"No use having trails if you don't have people using them. So I mean, ultimately, the reason that we do it is for the cross-country skiers and families and kids to get out there and to make use of them, to enjoy them," he says.

With files from Natalie Pressman.

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