Tuesday, 13 January 2015
So what do you do in winter?
Curtis here. I will be the third contributor to this blog. My official title at Shekinah is maintenance and school program director. The way I see it, this blog is a place to share stories of things that happen to us who are the Shekinah staff, as well as to keep the Shekinah community up to speed in terms of what is actually happening here.
I get that question a lot: so what are you actually doing there right now? And I suppose it is a valid question. While it is pretty easy to picture what dentist, or mechanic, or accountant, or student might be doing on any given day, it is very difficult for people to wrap their heads around what a Shekinah staff member could possibly be doing full time for the entire winter! So, perhaps, as this blog unfolds, you will gain some insight into what we spend our time doing way out here as the seasons pass and groups come and go.
When it hasn’t snowed in a while and the driveway is in decent shape, I tend to focus my attention on other projects that could be considered improvements to Shekinah. As an example, late last week I took on the project of building a track setter for cross-country skiing. As you may or may not know, Shekinah purchased 15 new pairs of skis last year along with poles and boots of many sizes. This was a pretty exciting acquisition for us and I remember appreciating how significant this upgrade was from our aging fleet of mismatched skis and boots that had seen better days. The only thing that we were wanting for was a place to ski. Of course, Shekinah is criss-crossed with numerous trails but the prospect of breaking one’s own trail through the snow to go exploring seems daunting and potentially exhausting. And to keep up many trails this way would figure to be a massive effort on the part of the Shekinah staff. So last winter we managed to keep one trail with a nice track on it (thanks to Chris) by just skiing over it every time it snowed and it was indeed a nice ski along the creek and out to the far end of North Boundary trail.
Near the end of the winter (still in 2014), I tracked down an excellent snowmobile aged about 20 years but in remarkably good condition that Shekinah ended up purchasing. And with it I planned on setting a nice ski track on any trail that was wide enough for me to drive down. Fast forward to January 2015 and the groomer I built is a fairly simple design built out of 1 sheet of ¾” plywood, some plastic puck board, a chain for towing, and 2 runners underneath made from scrap 2x4. The process of grooming involves loading a bunch of weight into the sled and then driving around the trails. I did a bit of a test track in the field last Friday and it appears to work pretty well although it turns out a lot of weight is needed to compress the snow properly. Right now, the areas I plan to set track are: a practice loop around the field, out to North Boundary trail (although turning around at the end could be tricky), Whitetail (for those who want to try a hill), and probably Wolf Willow trail. And I hope that guests of Shekinah can put the new skis to good use and take full advantage of God’s beautiful creation.