Posted by: Silver | March 8, 2011

Williams Lake

“The more open the country, the more open the arms,” said one of the first people I spoke to in Williams Lake, in reference to the increasingly sparse population as you travel north in British Columbia. And if my personal experience is anything to go by, he was spot on.

I was cheerily met from the bus by my hosts, who immediately took me over to meet another cheerily friendly guy: Mark Savard. Williams Lake has something of a reputation for extreme sports, and, as the owner of Red Shreds (the local bike and board shop), Mark is pretty much at the centre of that community. Given this reputation, my choice of ‘local’ activity seemed pretty obvious, and Mark was completely awesome in helping to make it happen.

First, it was cross-country skiing. And it was a first for me. I’ve clocked up a whole two days of downhill skiing in my life before, but this was my very first time on the shockingly narrow XC skis. I’m not going to pretend that I even got close to really getting the hang of it in the short time we had, and I strongly suspect I spent more time on my séant than my skis when the ground unhelpfully ceased to be flat, but that just seemed to increase the amount I laughed.

Then, after feeding me delicious pasta and thick hot chocolate, Mark introduced me to pond hockey (that’s ice hockey on a frozen lake instead of an indoor rink, just in case you – like me – didn’t know….). The minute I arrived, I was greeted like a long-lost friend by all the other guys and gals on the ice, found a pair of skates and proffered a hockey stick. Whether it was just because I was with Mark, I don’t know, but it was certainly one of the warmest, friendliest welcomes I’ve had anywhere on my journey so far and believe me, I’ve had some warm and friendly welcomes. With a grand total of no more than two hours’ previous experience on ice skates, I think it would be fair to say I was not a major contributor to the game, but I only fell over once (yes, the bruise is colouring up nicely, thank you), and I did hit the puck – twice! (Although, once again, this was largely thanks to the friendliness of my fellow skaters, who helpfully sent the puck to slowly slide directly in front of my stick…)

With my first ‘game’ of hockey successfully under my belt, I feel like I’ve made another important step towards becoming a true Canadian; even more importantly, though, my antics seemed to encourage the sports reporter from the local paper to write an article about me and SOS Children’s Villages, so all in all, this was a very successful – and enjoyable – stop on my journey 🙂

Skiing uphill really isn't that easy, you know...

No Lake Cowichan/Cowichan Lake confusion here: Williams Lake is built on the shores of Williams Lake. The only difficulty is spotting that it is a lake under all the snow

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