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A Window to Ice Skate

As frost begins to nip and roses bloom on chilled cheeks, it’s time to sharpen your skates and pack up the thermos for heartwarming winter moments on ice. The window for outdoor skating is short in our moderate winter climate so make sure to enjoy some ice time from November to February. Sparkling winter sunlight, smooth frozen ponds and frosted trees make for perfectly Instagrammable moments.

It's the time of year when every pond, lake, and outdoor rink is glazed with solid ice on which to glide and spin your skates. The swish, swish of the blades as they cut across from shoreline to shoreline—or board to board—is a satisfying treat for the ears that will give you a tingle in your toes.

Before you lace up and wobble your way to the surface, ensure the ice is a proper thickness. Farmer's Almanac says three inches of ice is safe for a single person on-foot, four inches is suitable for groups of people, and twelve inches is good for a proper truck (you'll need to head out of town if this is your jam, Fernie's ice is for unmotorized access only). If you're not sure, bring something to penetrate the ice to check for its thickness.

If the ice is safe, there are a few great local spots to skate upon. The Annex Park Pond, though sporadically disrupted with the neighbourhood beavers' collection of logs and sticks, is a great place to set up shop with the kids. Nearby picnic tables make for easy stops to eat cookies and drink hot chocolate. Bring your dog along—after an afternoon skate, you can walk to the nearby dog park so the pup can have a play.

Maiden Lake, next to the Fernie RV Resort (open all year), is perfect for an afternoon game of shinny; the sun shines delightfully here before hiding behind the Lizard Range. 

Alternatively, try Fernie's Outdoor Rink at the Fernie Aquatic Centre. Grab a coffee uptown then walk with your skates looped around your neck in old fashion to the rink. Gearhub is conveniently close if you need a last minute skate sharpen or to hire skates for the day.

If escaping town is more your style, there are plenty of lakes to drive to with suitable ice. Tie Lake, 55km from town (approx 40 minutes in good conditions), is just one of many with perfect clear-blue glass ice. Explore the area and find your own special secret spot! Wherever you lace up this early winter, be sure to do it safely and enjoy the swish, swish this season.

--Jesse Bell

Jesse is a local writer and adventurer with a huge passion for Fernie, BC and the Canadian Rockies.