You know you’ve been away from the Yukon for too long when you get off the plane and -15°C feels cold. But I welcomed the feeling, anyway; I missed it.

There’s always so much to do when I get home: the woodpile is dwindling; I hadn’t climbed a mountain since November; the ski trails needed someone to ski them; and my dog needed to lose some weight.

With so much to do, it’s hard to sit still, but the national championships were just around the corner so I forced myself to rest up. Sadly, no mountain climbing was done.

However, there was a lot of skiing done, and the conditions were perfect, as usual. During my European voyage, I forgot what skiing on real snow felt like. The first trail I skied when I got home was the MacIntyre Ascent Trail.

The Ascent Trail is the outermost ski trail, crossing the Copper Haul Road and winding most of the way up Mount Mac, providing a spectacular view of Whitehorse, Grey Mountain, and even Lake Laberge. A little higher and you’d get a view of Fish Lake, too. The Descent Trail – which is the way down from the Ascent Trail – and a portion of the Copper Haul Road are shared with snowmobiles, and I was pleasantly surprised with their courtesy to skiers. The groomed ski track was left untouched making for a wicked fast downhill.

Maybe the skiers and slednecks can get along after all.

Between this past week at home and a few weeks over Christmas, I’ve done some skiing on the Whitehorse trails, but it’s not often I get to race on my home trails anymore.

The Marsh Lake, Mount Lorne, and Northwestel Loppets – those are the races I’d look forward to all year when I was growing up. Not winning a draw prize at the Marsh Lake race was a rare occurrence.

The snack table also stood out. After the race we would shovel our 10-year-old faces full of homemade chocolate chip cookies and stuff as many Gatorade bottles in our backpacks as possible (as a 10-year-old it wasn’t every day you came across free Gatorade).

After finishing the 7.5 km Northwestel race, I’d watch Dave Brook duke it out with one of the Waterreus brothers for the big title.

At Mount Lorne, it was the chili and hockey game afterwards that we looked forward to. Sadly I don’t get to enjoy these hot commodities much anymore, although I did get to do at least one race at home this year. On March 8 I competed in the Yukon Championships. I had my fill of cookies, chili, and Gatorade, plus I was named Yukon Champion!

Now I’m headed back east to Newfoundland, via Air North’s awesome new flight to Ottawa, in hopes of being named national champion. I’ll have a quick chance to catch up with some Ottawa-dwelling Yukoners before meeting the rest of the Yukon Ski Team in Corner Brook.