Barriere Outdoor Club members Steve Rainer and Mary MacLennan in full costume (even with a replica of the Viking King’s son on Mary’s arm) for the annual cross country ski event called the Birchleg, in Clearwater, B.C. Submitted photo:

Outdoor club participates in reenactment of cross country ski trek by Vikings in the year 1204

On February the 2nd the Barriere Outdoor Club (BOC) voyaged up to Clearwater to take part in the Wells Gray Outdoor club’s annual Birchleg.

The Birchleg is a family fun cross country ski event and it is your chance to dress up like a Viking or ancient Norwegian. Some people have a great imagination when it comes to designing their Viking costumes, and the costumes can be quite interesting to say the least. People come up with all sorts of unique ideas to make themselves look like a fierce Viking for the day, from deer horns and furs, to pots and pans used as a helmet, we have even seen cookie sheets used as shields. It seems the sky is the limit when it comes to people’s imagination.

This great event re-enacts a cross country ski trip made by two Viking warriors in the 13th Century. King Haakon of Norway was murdered in 1204 during a time of civil war. The legend goes that the King’s infant son was in immediate peril of the same fate. Two Viking warriors, loyal to their dead king and his heir, took the baby to safety in Trondheim. Their flight was in midwinter, skiing 55 kilometres across the mountains. Holding the child secure behind a shield, these warriors were armed with a battle-axe and spears. Young Haakon Haakonson grew to adulthood in safety, returning to Norway to claim his father’s throne.

The Birchleg begins with a mass start at 10 a.m. at the Candle Creek Cross Country Ski Trails in Clearwater where you find skiers and snowshoers of all levels out for a good time. Participants could ski all 28 km of the well groomed trails, or ski just a portion of them, it’s up to the participant.

After skiing, a delicious hot Norwegian style lunch and refreshments are provided by the remarkable volunteers of the Wells Gray Outdoor Club. Following lunch numerous door prizes and prizes for the best costume were handed out.

Thanks Clearwater for a great day of well organized Viking entertainment.

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