BRISTOL – Members of the Salt and Pepper Ski Club, an initiative of Ski at School, had an introductory meeting, January 13, at Astra Estates in Bristol. Coordinator Benoit Hudon detailed the program, aimed at the 55+ age group, which was piloted last year in the MRC-des-Collines and this year extended to the Pontiac and Vallée-de-la-Gatineau regions.
“It’s about discovering new sites for skiing, feeling safe while doing so, creating connections with people and nature, and making winter fun,” said Hudon, emphasizing that skiing is at participants’ own pace and participation in every activity is voluntary.
Belonging to the club means members can borrow ski equipment for the season at no charge, part of the “remove the barriers” philosophy of Ski at School. People were geared up on January 17 at the new equipment centre in Campbell’s Bay and went for a first ski.
Every Saturday at 10 am, there’s a group ski at Astra Estates in Bristol with volunteers from Ski Pontiac who partner with Ski at School to loan equipment to individuals and families on Saturday mornings for free.
Regular Wednesday outings of the Salt and Pepper Club are scheduled for different sites including Le Patro in Fort-Coulonge, Pine Lodge in Bristol and Gatineau Park, where Pontiac skiers will join other regional groups. While there’s a charge to ski at Le Patro and Pine Lodge, Gatineau Park outings are free.
Ski at School’s Katelyn Bertrand is on hand Wednesdays to help skiers with tips and guidance. Bertrand has worked for Ski at School since 2021. She caught the cross country “bug” in 2019 when she took part in a 140 km “Trek to Parliament” organized for Pontiac students through Ski at School.
Ski at School, a non-profit organization, has been bringing cross country skiing to schools in the Pontiac since 2016 and, since last year, has extended their efforts to the community through Saturday equipment loans and piloting the Salt and Pepper Club.