Challenge of the North Routt Coureur des Bois

In order to make a living in the fur trade, a group of men took it upon themselves to trade without legal permission, and were therefore called Coureur des Bois, meaning “Wood Runners” or “Runners of the Woods”. Always trying to stay a step ahead of the French authorities to avoid capture, these hardy men would take on the worst terrain and weather conditions to do trade with the Indians. The French Canadian Coureur des Bois became legendary for their traveling skills during the seventeenth and eighteenth century, which later forced the authorities to provide some of the traders with legal permits. Today, skiing enthusiasts and adventurers can test their own endurance skills in the North Routt Coureur des Bois challenge.

The fourth annual North Routt Coureur des Bois will take place on the 15th of March 2008 and courses and contingency courses, in case of bad snow conditions, will be available to participants a few days before the race. It is definitely a race that is designed for extremely fit and confident skiers, as the they will need to use their technical skills and experience to navigate steep hills and very fast descents, with climbs taking skiers to approximately 2 840 feet. There are two courses for participants to choose from, the 42 kilometer and the 90 kilometer, with the first mentioned being slightly less difficult and challenging than the second.

While the first course can be successfully completed by skilled and confident skiing explorers, the second course is not for the faint of heart. With estimated heights of 6 500 feet and remote areas such as the National Continental Divide Scenic Trail, Medicine Bow National Forest and the Routt National Forests, skiing participants will have ensure that they have the relevant equipment and supplies in the rare event of an emergency. Recommended gear such as warm clothing, water and food will aid skiers during their journey.

This magnificent endurance event starts and ends at the Steamboat Lake State Park and participants will also receive a Coureur des Bois fleece shirt or vest upon entry. Clearly marked trails will ensure that skiers do not lose their way and return safely to the finish line. Both courses of the North Routt Coureur des Bois were designed to challenge skiers in regard to fitness, determination and skill. Over and above enjoying personal victory in completing the courses, it gives participants the rare opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the original Coureur des Bois, and find new appreciation for their daily lives and terrain which they took on, without the modern equipment of today.