Vikings return to Candle Creek Trails for Birchleg

Darren Coates, Barb Smith, Carman Smith and Mary MacLennan don viking attire, ready to protect the wee baby heir, Haakon Haakonson, for the Wells Gray Outdoors Club Birchleg event at the Candle Creek Trails the morning of Saturday, Feb. 12. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)Darren Coates, Barb Smith, Carman Smith and Mary MacLennan don viking attire, ready to protect the wee baby heir, Haakon Haakonson, for the Wells Gray Outdoors Club Birchleg event at the Candle Creek Trails the morning of Saturday, Feb. 12. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)
Cleo and Darren Coates ready to ski the trails. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)Cleo and Darren Coates ready to ski the trails. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)
Julie Anderson, Janet Erwood and Julianna Duplessis say they have been travelling to Candle Creek trails for the Birchleg event from Kamloops for years. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)Julie Anderson, Janet Erwood and Julianna Duplessis say they have been travelling to Candle Creek trails for the Birchleg event from Kamloops for years. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)
Hazel Wadlegger, left, and Barb Smith. (Submitted)Hazel Wadlegger, left, and Barb Smith. (Submitted)
Elijah Allen, left, and Mason Nelson were excited to take part in Birchleg at Candle Creek Trails on Saturday, Feb. 12. Both boys donned little viking attire, including a sword, and were ready to fend off anything that stood in their way. Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)Elijah Allen, left, and Mason Nelson were excited to take part in Birchleg at Candle Creek Trails on Saturday, Feb. 12. Both boys donned little viking attire, including a sword, and were ready to fend off anything that stood in their way. Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)
Musicians Gerda Faber and Geoff Ellen. (Submitted photo)Musicians Gerda Faber and Geoff Ellen. (Submitted photo)
Max, left, Thomas, Arlene and Christian Ott, who recently moved to Clearwater, take part in the Birchleg event for the first time. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)Max, left, Thomas, Arlene and Christian Ott, who recently moved to Clearwater, take part in the Birchleg event for the first time. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)

After a year hiatus, cross country skiers from throughout the North Thompson gathered at the Candle Creek trails for the Birchleg event on Saturday, Feb. 12.

Fifty-three people took part in the event, and seven Search and Rescue personnel, as well as volunteers were also at the trails. It was a beautiful day for a ski.

Participants included people from as far as Kamloops, as well as many who take part every year.

Jean Nelson was one of the volunteer cooks in the warming hut, making Norwegian-style eats and treats. The trails were groomed by volunteer Dave Flear and the whole thing was put together by Hazel Wadlegger and the president of the Wells Gray Outdoors Club Darren Coates.

Best overall women’s costume went to Julie and Julianna from Kamloops, and best overall male costume and oldest male prizes were awarded to Carman Smith from Barriere.

The Birchleg event is a re-enactment of a cross country ski trip made by two viking warriors in the 13th century to save King Haakon’s son from being killed, after the King was murdered during a civil war in 1204. The two warriors, loyal to their dead king, took the baby to safety in Trondheim. Their trip was made in the middle of winter, and they skied 55 kilometres across mountainous terrain. The heir to the throne, young Haakon Haakonson, grew to adulthood in safety, and returned to Norway to claim the throne.

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cross country skiingNorth Thompson Valley