If there’s one image that captures the road ahead for Hay River’s Ski Club, it’s Chuck Lirette standing next to a giant ice block.
“I’m 6 feet tall so it’s close to that in height and very heavy. About ten by ten feet in diametre,” said Lirette, Trail Supervisor at the Hay River the Ski Club. “It actually took out the sign for the Brendan Green trail,”
The giant snow rock is representative of the devastation the recent floods had on the Hay River’s ski trials and the clean up ahead.
“Right now it’s too wet and too muddy to survey the damage. It will take a while to get through the snarls of trees, until we get in there and see the true extent, there’s not much we can do until things can dry.”
The Ski Club has around 160 members and also hosts day-pass groups and tourists.
“Our trails have sustained some significant damage. They sit 50 feet off the river and int between is brush. All the ice and water pushed the brush onto the trails. In some places the brush now sits up to 14 feet height,” said Lirette.
Lirette said Club applied to the GNWT for funding to assist with the clean and have been denied.
“There’s no assistance available to us for now as recreational trials don’t qualify… we are hoping to organise work parties with our membership, a few guys with chainsaws to get in there. We will slowly work.”
The clean up is estimated to start mid-summer when the trail dries out — “it will be be volunteer commitment,” said Lirette.
For now, it’s not safe to walk around the area. “With the standing water it’s slippery and muddy. They are not passable the way they are. Even the golf course has not opened with all the water.”
Located 12 kilometres south of Hay River, the ski trail extend 15 kilometres — five kilometres of which are illuminated.
The Brendan Green and Solitude Trails cross over the river and the Ricardo Pool Trial are most effected.
“The last 600 or 700 metres of the Ricardo loop is parallel to the river and it’s really bad there. You couldn’t even walk through it,” said Lirette. “The best way to describe it is a ‘snarl’ – dirftwood, trees, willows, ice, and mud.”
Ashley Coombs, the club’s youth co-ordinator visited the Ricordo Pool Trail recently and said it is broken in several places.
“The trees have been pushed in by the river. There’s definitely sections of it you can’t get through at all. I wouldn’t recommend walking through right now.”
Lirette agrees: “I’m trying to find the words: it don’t look so good,” he said.
“We’re basically on our own to reclaim our trails.”