A group of Vikings take a break from pillaging and get ready to go skiing. Pictured are (l-r) Reid Muddiman, Noelle Muddiman and Kim Muddiman of Clearwater, Barb Smith of Barriere, and Upper Clearwater resident Linda Brierley.

A group of Vikings take a break from pillaging and get ready to go skiing. Pictured are (l-r) Reid Muddiman, Noelle Muddiman and Kim Muddiman of Clearwater, Barb Smith of Barriere, and Upper Clearwater resident Linda Brierley.

Vikings rampage on Candle Creek trails

About 75 people sign up for annual Birchleg event

About 75 people, many of them in Viking costume, signed up to participate in this year’s Wells Gray Birchleg, organizers report.

The event was put on by Wells Gray Outdoors Club at the Candle Creek cross-country ski trails on Saturday, Feb. 3.

The Birchleg is an unofficial version of the Birkebeiner – a cross-country ski race that is held every year in Norway and other locations around the world.

The races commemorate an incident in 12th century Norway when two Viking warriors on skis carried the baby heir to the throne across the mountains to safety during a civil war.

The Wells Gray Birchleg started in the late 1990s in Wells Gray Park and was put on by the Murtle River Nordics, in part as a replacement for the Wells Gray Loppet cross-country ski marathon. For about the past five years it has been put on by Wells Gray Outdoors Club at Candle Creek.

During the event, many participants dress in Viking or traditional Scandinavian costume.

A Norwegian-style lunch is included.

READ MORE: Vikings have fun at Birchleg (Feb. 4, 2014)



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Mary MacLennan and Steve Rainer of Barriere look threatening in their Viking costumes.

Mary MacLennan and Steve Rainer of Barriere look threatening in their Viking costumes.

Barriere resident Carman Smith and Clearwater’s Hazel Wadlegger show off their Viking costumes during the Birchleg.

Barriere resident Carman Smith and Clearwater’s Hazel Wadlegger show off their Viking costumes during the Birchleg.

(Clockwise from left) Asher Cisna (in an authentic Irish-Viking helmet), Cadence Cisna, Theron McLarty and Kallan McLarty surround the photographer.

(Clockwise from left) Asher Cisna (in an authentic Irish-Viking helmet), Cadence Cisna, Theron McLarty and Kallan McLarty surround the photographer.

Brooke Uher plus parents Mark and Carolyn Uher of Grindrod, B.C. (located north of Enderby) get ready to take part in the Birchleg. They heard about the event through the Larch Hills cross-country ski club, they said.

Brooke Uher plus parents Mark and Carolyn Uher of Grindrod, B.C. (located north of Enderby) get ready to take part in the Birchleg. They heard about the event through the Larch Hills cross-country ski club, they said.

Jessica and Kash Baker carry their skis to the Candle Creek cross-country ski trails to take part in the Birchleg.

Jessica and Kash Baker carry their skis to the Candle Creek cross-country ski trails to take part in the Birchleg.