The Moose Trail, part of the Frost Centre Ski Trails, will open this winter for the first time in five years thanks to a generous donation in memory of a longtime user and supporter of the trails.
Anu Lellep, a passionate skier and volunteer, passed away unexpectedly last year, and last week, family and friends made a large donation in her honour, which will allow the trail to reopen. More than $2,700 of that donation came from Ski Friends of the Frost Centre – the last bit of money in the longstanding group’s account – and more than $7,200 from Anu’s family, for a total of $10,000.
Historically, the trails were maintained by the Ski Friends of the Frost, with the Township of Algonquin Highlands assuming that responsibility in 2011. When beech bark disease began to cause numerous trees along the Moose Trail to become hazardous in 2017, the trail was closed for safety reasons. Beech bark disease rots trees from the inside out, meaning their deterioration is difficult to detect, and that trees can fall expectedly.
The money from the donation is being used to clear 117 hazardous trees, rebuild a boardwalk and complete brushing along the trail. A warming shelter has been named Anu’s Place, and a brass plaque explaining her contributions to the trail system was installed there during the weekend.
Anu’s brother Lembit made the journey from Switzerland for the donation and installation of the plaque. “I’m sure she’s looking down on us from somewhere, appreciating this,” Lembit said during a ceremony outside the Algonquin Highlands office on Oct. 27.
“I know that trail and the Ski Friends of the Frost were very important to Anu,” said Mayor Carol Moffatt, thanking the group for the donation.
Algonquin Highlands Parks, Rec and Trails Manager Chris Card called Anu a great friend, and shared a favourite memory of his. As Card explained, he’d arrived at work one day and was heading out to groom the trails when he came across Anu.
“So I’m at the office, heading out at 8 a.m., and she’s on her skis, and I see her and I said, ‘Are you headed out skiing?’ and she said, “No, I just finished.’ I said, ‘What trails did you ski?’ and she said, ‘All of them.’”
As Card explained, this meant Anu had skied 26 kilometres and was back in the parking lot before he started work for the day. “She was always an inspiration,” he said.