Every autumn I partake in the spreading of all sorts of ridiculously entertaining prophecies about why it’s going to be a great winter for skiers. I’m not talking about the Farmer’s Almanac long-range weather “predictions” that apply to such long-range weather “predictions” that apply to such broad areas they’re as accurate as astrological charts and horoscopes. (The Almanac’s “Southern Ontario” is anywhere below Geraldton, for instance—that would be the part of Ontario that has roads). No, I’m talking real science that if it could be bottled and sold, I’d truly have a no-fail, get-rich-quick scheme to beat all other no-fail, get-rich-quick schemes. I polled a few ski industry men and women from B.C. who were in Toronto at the ski show in October and here are 10 for-sure signs we’re going to have a great winter.
10 Thick squirrel tails. Christopher from Sun Peaks reports they’re huge this fall, and you know what they say, “The thicker the tail, the deeper the pow.” (Of course, they were skiing October 8 at Sun Peaks so it’s hard not to be optimistic.)
9 Grouse eggs. Jim from Red Mountain was busy counting the number of sets of eggs individual grouse had been laying around Rossland. He’s happy to report the number is three—and that’s a good number. Or better than two anyway. If you’re into grouse eggs.
8 Fur vs. leather. Mike from Golden reports the peelers in town have been far more into fur lately rather than traditional leather. I sent him back to do more investigation.
7 Lions and tigers and bears. When Ontario’s air conditioners were still humming on high, Mike from Big White (no relation to Mike from Golden) watched the deer head into the valley in September. Goldilocks had the place to herself when the bears started hibernating early, shortly after the deer split.
6 Firewood. Well-quoted but slow-moving First Nation Native Canadian Aboriginal guy, Running Beaver, from the Pemberton Reserve is a solemn harbinger when it comes to classic good-winter-tocome observances: “White man chop lots of ﬁrewood.” You said it!
5 Wasps. Christina from Whistler was pleased to testify that wasps (the buzzing kind, not the hyphenated-surname ones that ﬁ ll Ontario’s ski club rosters) are in the ground instead of in the trees. Highly signiﬁ cant I’m told.
4 Huckleberries. “The biggest in years!” says Robin of Silver Star. (Of course, Silver Star is related to Big White and huckleberries are related to bears and bears hibernated early and….)
3 Rat shacks. Ken from Panorama spends his summers on the water and was pleased indeed with the size of muskrat lodges this fall. How this is all connected to an impending brilliant winter for skiers needs no explanation.
2 Warm lakes. Perhaps not as scientiﬁc based as rat-shack size, but if you happen to ski downwind from a big lake like I do, warm fall temperatures are good. They keep the lake open longer into the winter. And nothing makes better powder than cold temperatures and open water.
1 Laszlo. And ﬁnally, this infamous octogenarian from Nelson by way of the Ukraine has skied Whitewater long enough to know it’s going to be a good winter. And if Laszlo says so, then it’s good enough for me.