IMPACT: Pandemic incentive to get outdoors has been a boon for the Peterborough area

An avid cross-country skier navigates the trails during a recent visit to Kawartha Nordic, north of Peterborough.
  • Graham Wilkins of Paluski Boats says the pandemic has caused more people to consider safe outdoor options for recreation, and it's given Lakefield area activities a big boost.

Canada’s leading thinkers reflect on how COVID-19 has changed our community, Canada and the world, and changed the future forever.

Among the many lessons COVID has taught us is that once you get past the anxiety of a crowded parking lot, the world opens up.

On a recent midweek trip to the Kawartha Nordic Ski Center — perhaps the best time to visit when the parking lot isn’t so full — Peter Harris was getting ready to hit the cross-country trails.

“There are enough trails here that when you go out you’re kind of on your own,” he said. “Even when the parking lot is full you go to the end of the trail and it’s really quite nice. Seeing people here in the glorious sunshine, having fun… It was almost normal, which I enjoyed a lot.

Harris has been a member of Kawartha Nordic for nearly 20 years. But since the start of the pandemic, membership has grown to a level beyond what those here would have predicted.

“I would say our membership has almost doubled, says Executive Director Wendi Reid.

The club is located about 40 km north of Peterborough, near the highway. 28. It has 32 runs, 46 km of which are open to classic and skating skiers. Taxes included, an adult day pass will cost you $20, but there are discounts for seniors, youth and families. An adult season pass (18-64) can be purchased for $154. There are also early season discounts and rental equipment is available.

Given the number of those looking for an alternative to indoor isolation, many people are ready to take the plunge. Even this winter, it’s a good idea to monitor the club’s social media for parking alerts. It is not uncommon for the lot to fill up at noon on weekends.

“Our daily usage, especially on weekends, has increased tremendously,” says Reid. I’ll give you an example… I had to hire weekend parking attendants last winter because we needed to maximize our space to get as many cars in as possible.

Since the start of the pandemic, local health officials have urged people to get out and enjoy the natural world — to take a break from virtual meetings and TV shows. Scott Murison, owner of Wild Rock Outfitters on Charlotte Street in Peterborough, says people were listening.

“We are very fortunate that our industry has been blessed with people since the pandemic began,” he says. “People are finding it more and more important to get out and have fun, whether it’s a little really local adventure like a walk in Jackson’s Park, or whether it’s more intrepid adventures, you know in the Northern Kawarthas or elsewhere .”

Murison said upfront there was a real urgency for some to come out, but at the same time the options were limited. The idea of ​​a holiday appealed to many who were willing to try it.

“It ranges from families with, you know, four-year-olds, to retired couples in their 60s. When they weren’t going to Florida anymore, they were looking for options. Where can we go? What can we do? What do we need?”

He says it was a very common theme over the past couple of years and is still going strong. Many locals here have turned to Wild Rock for their needs.

“We had different people looking for different things. We’ve had seniors who haven’t been home over the winter for a long time. They need everything from warm socks to long underwear, jackets, hats and gloves. You know, because it’s their first winter here in 15 or 20 years. We hear a lot of stories like that.

Many more sought out new outdoor gear.

“This year we heard that people who are spending their second winter, because obviously they didn’t come down last year, really enjoy this place. So they come back and say “I tried the racquet last year”. I would like to try cross-country skiing now. At 65, they embarked on the new sport of cross-country skiing.

Last summer, he says, people were looking for hiking gear and kayaks. They wanted to get out on the bike trails, or they wanted to try mountain biking. He reached such a frenzy that some equipment was hard to come by.

Graham Wilkins, co-founder of Paluski Boats near Lakefield, says the company – and its retail store, Adventure Outfitters – has seen a surge in business with people looking to get out during the pandemic

“We were so busy that I was turning down potential new business,” he told Peterborough This Week.

Traditionally they try to keep stock available for dealer orders, but there was no time to build up extra stock when the rush hit. Even when the normally slow season came towards the end of the high season, they kept the production peak in place.

“In the fall, we realized we could have sold more if we had more on our shelves.”

Murison saw the same thing happen at Wild Rock. He says there are still supply chain issues, but it’s not as bad as the past two summers.

“It’s better, but it’s far from normal. So we have more bikes than in the past, but it’s not a normal season.

Still, he says, if you’re looking to add to your gear base for the upcoming summer, it’s not a bad idea to start shopping now.

“People are coming in and they’re putting the names on the bike they want now. They want it when it arrives in March. If they wait, it might already be sold. There’s a benefit to buying now…it’s won’t be the case forever, but it’s definitely for this summer.

STORY BEHIND THE STORY: On the second anniversary of the start of the pandemic, we reached out to the Peterborough area outdoor community to see how people have used nature to cope with the COVID-19 experience.