It has been an unseasonably warm fall, but winter is going to settle in whether we like it or not. So why not enjoy it with some outdoor activity?

This column, which will appear sporadically through the winter season, will be about skiing (specifically cross country skiing), how to get the most out of it and how to really enjoy it. Because that’s the object of the exercise (if you’ll excuse the pun).

Along the way, I’ll toss in some trivia and tidbits of information.

I’ll be focusing on skiing at the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club, one of the most successful ski clubs in the country, and not just because it keeps turning out top-notch racers. While the racers get lots of publicity, they’re only a small part of the club – as with most clubs, for that matter.

A typical season sees the Whitehorse club membership top out at around 1,300 members. That’s a fair chunk of the local population. Add in all the casual users who purchase day passes and you have an idea why the club has become such an integral part of the community.

Members range in age from three to 90-plus (now there’s something to aspire to).

The club boasts some stellar national-level racers, but the average member is a recreational skier, not a racer. He or she is out to enjoy some of the best trails in the country, trails replete with superb grooming.

Depending on who you ask, the trail system adds up to something like 70 or 80 kilometres. Given its location – only five minutes from downtown – it’s no wonder it’s a popular spot.

Skiers of all abilities can be found out on the trails day and night, seven days a week. While the wax room may close occasionally, the trails never do.

And while it may not be the biggest club in the country, its membership is right up there. When you compare membership with the population base it draws from, it’s certainly the most impressive club in the land, if not the continent.

The Whitehorse club traces its roots to the early 1970s, when the start of the current trail system was developed so the City of Whitehorse could host the 1972 Arctic Winter Games.

It’s been growing ever since, both in membership and the facilities and programs it has to offer.

The recreational skiers who make up the bulk of the club are also responsible for hosting some great events over the years, helping boost the club’s reputation around the country. These events can be pretty exciting for racers, spectators and volunteers alike.

Building from these humble AWG beginnings, the club even acted as host to a couple of World Cup races back in 1981. More recently, of course, the Canada Winter Games and the Haywood Nationals were great successes by all accounts.

There have also been lots of other events, too numerous to mention.

As the 2010-11 season gets going full steam, I’ll be writing about events at the club, offering ski tips and giving some background about club operations.

I also hope to help de-mystify the wonderful world of cross country, so that you can enjoy your skiing experience just a bit more.

In the meantime, do a snow dance and think snow. Even if it doesn’t work, it will help improve your fitness level!

See you on the trails.

Claude Chabot is executive director of the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club. If you have questions about the club or its extensive network of trails, you can reach Claude at ed@xcskiwhitehorse.ca