To say I was not a natural at ice skating would be an understatement. It doesn’t really matter anyway, since my skating debut took place in something of a winter wonderland. The location was a beautiful little 1km skating loop through a snowy forest at Apex Ski Resort near Penticton, BC. Spoiler alert…I didn’t make it all the way around.
A unique experience in Canada
In the five years I’ve lived in Canada, I’ve tried a whole bunch of ‘truly Canadian’ things; swimming in lakes, watching hockey, eating fries covered in gravy and cheese, canoeing, snowshoeing, floating down a river on an inner tube, drinking tomato juice mixed with clams….all that (mostly) good stuff. Ice skating though, has not been something I have been particularly excited to try. Until this Christmas at least.
The thing that finally persuaded me was Apex Ski Resort’s Skating Loop. While they do also have a regular rectangular skating rink, the Skating Loop at Apex is a bit of a unique thing; you definitely don’t see these everywhere. Winding through the snowy forest, the 1km maintained trail offers a totally different challenge than your regular skate on the rink. Plus, it’s super pretty.
After securing some well-loved skates from Apex’s rental department, we traipsed over to the Skating Loop to find it completely covered in a couple of inches of snow. I say “find,” but quite embarrassingly we had accidently walked straight on top of it without realising. Not until someone slipped anyway…
After changing shoes in the nearby cabin, we gingerly made our way back to the ice. My first foot onto the very slippery step outside of the cabin and I almost gave up there and then. I mean, honestly, why would anyone make shoes that purposely slip?! Encouraged by the others to continue, I can proudly say I did make out it out of the cabin and onto the actual ice.
Skating Loop magic
It was at this point that I started learning that Jean Robert is actually something of a skating pro. Not only could he glide forwards and turn around without falling over, he also managed to keep me upright the whole time too! I may have killed his hand while doing so, but we managed to shuffle a whole thirty metres up the trail together without too much drama (he may not agree). With a patience of a saint, we posed for photos and then I gave him the opportunity for a few non-shuffly laps without me. I think he enjoyed that.
Though I may not have glided gracefully around the trail as I had imagined in my head, I still got a taster of the Skating Loop magic. Alone on the trail, it was just us and the tall trees lining the ice. Snow dusted us from above, falling from branches as the wind picked up a little. Despite being so close to a busy resort, the forest was silent if not for the occasional falling snow and my yelping when shuffling down a steeper section. I may not have actually skated much, but I’m glad I had a go.
Apex Skating Loop: The details
The Skating Loop is usually open every day and is maintained by a Zamboni (an ice resurfacer machine as it turns out). We arrived at 11 am to find a completely snow covered trail but Mr Zamboni turned up not too long later. Personally, I preferred the snowy ice (it looked so much softer) but I imagine for the professionals out there it would be a bit of a hindrance.
Tickets for Apex Ski Resort’s Skating Loop are $4, rental skates are $11. If you have your own skates at home I would highly recommend trying to find them before the drive up as the rentals are not in the best condition.
The drive to Apex from Penticton takes approx. 50 minutes. The Skating Loop is a little hidden, but it can be found to the left of the road just when you reach the main parking lot. It appears soon after the RV park.
Tickets and skates can be found in the main Apex Village, so a little walking is required before you actually get down to some skating (or not in my case!) There is a very small cabin at the entrance of the Loop, a handy place to sit down inside when changing footwear.
Have you ever been skating outside of a rink before?
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