Unseasonably warm weather and limited snowfall has meant a late start to the cross-country ski season with many local trails opening up for the first time just this month. Pumpkin Creek cross-country ski club's volunteer president, Danielle Dusmenil, says it's the latest start she has seen during her presidency, but it hasn't impacted interest or attendance. She reports they've seen a steady increase in visitors over the last three years and believes a portion of the increase is a result of COVID-19 nudging people toward outdoor activities during lockdown.

"Especially local people, we've had a lot of people in the local areas and surrounding areas discover Pumpkin Creek and discover skiing."

Dusmenil describes maintaining the 20km of trails as a year-round communal effort, extending her thanks to the club's many volunteers.

"It's an amazing group, all the local people and people from Portage and Winnipeg. I just feel like Pumpkin Creek has welcomed a lot of people. I have never been more proud to be a volunteer."

She says having on-site rentals available for those looking to try cross country skiing for the first time makes Pumpkin Creek an excellent entry point for newcomers to the sport as well as for those who aren't in a position to purchase their own gear.

She encourages those interested in trying skiing for the first time to make a trip to Pumpkin Creek , located 50 km south of Portage la Prairie.