She’s wide and low with lots of moving metal parts but the paths that “Ellie” cuts on the trails of Ellenwood Lake Park are beautiful to behold by cross-country skiers.
The new snow groomer was christened with a bottle of bubbly on Sunday, Feb. 3, surrounded by members of the Friends of Ellenwood Park.
In the past few years, the group has worked to promote winter recreation on the 114-hectare property.
Spokesperson Stephen Sollows delivered a short speech before cracking the bottle on the machine.
“A number of years ago it was the vision of a local man to make this a Nordic ski area for the people of South West Nova Scotia.
“Brian Hatfield worked tirelessly with politicians, community leaders, and the local recreation department, to get a heated cabin available, which would help facilitate that dream. He was successful,” said Sollows.
He described how the group promoting off-season use was formed and how it expanded from interest in skiing to other activities, including nature hikes, brunches and lunches, geocaching, photography, drumming lessons, bird feeder workshops, pumpkin carving and talks on the environment from TREPA.
There were 629 visitors who signed into the park in 2009/10 from December to March and 642 people in 2010/11 over the same time period.
In the past six years there have been six ski clinics for novice to intermediate skiers. There have also been six family fun days.
Several organizations provided grants for improvements at the park for off-season use and the group picked 550 bags of garbage from ditches to raise more funds.
Last year they received the 2012 Doctors Nova Scotia Strive Award and a $5,000 grant.
The cabin is open from noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays until May, when events organized by the Friends of Ellenwood Park will cease until October.
Cross-country skis and ski boots are available at the cabin for loan at no cost.
Visitors are encouraged to sign the guestbook when they arrive. The gate is up at the entrance and visitors must walk approximately10 minutes to reach the heated cabin. Associate memberships ($10 annually) are available. The funds help to maintain roads, trails and the cabin.
Check out the website for updates.
The provincial park’s regular season runs from May 17 to Sept. 2 for campers, with a supervised beach, boat launch and picnic areas.