Room to Roam
This story was written for Corona Extra Canada, for their Winter 2016 "Closer to the Sun" campaign. This is post 5 of 8. The original blog can be found here.
With the towering Coastal Mountains slowly shrinking in our rear view mirror, Mitch and I are back on the road. There are a million things I love about being in the mountains, but winding through them by car sits near the peak of that list. It could be because road trips remind me of too many kids on the floor of an Astro Van, with an old television bungeed between the two front seats to pacify our restlessness. Though it could also be because Mitch and I have a healthy appreciation for the unknown, which materializes as roadside surprises, startling views, and a refreshing break from routine.
We awoke to falling snow on the morning of our Whistler departure. Big flakes cascaded into the village, against our windshield, and eventually accumulated on the trees that blurred passed as we winded through the mountains. The accrual was way too enticing for an express route. Our car should have been adorned with one of those “stops frequently” signs, and maybe even a “plays often” sign, too. Frozen lakes turned into giant playgrounds and low-hanging limbs became makeshift snowball launchers. After having several bluebird days in Whistler, the following days of snowfall were a wintry treat.
As we ventured away from the coast, the scenery continued to evolve- dense forests and twisting roads gave way to arid grasslands, complete with frozen streams caught motionless while meandering through brilliant, gold meadows. Eventually, the desert became less noticeable as we, once again, rose in elevation. Sun Peaks Resort housed us for one, snowy night, before we headed toward Golden. Large pieces from the evening’s whiteout catapulted from our hood as we ventured down the highway the following morning.
The snow continued to fall, which made for a few nice days at Kicking Horse Resort. Mitch explored the downhill ski scene and reveled in some much-deserved powder, and I drifted into the trees for my first taste of cross-country exploring. The atmosphere in Golden differed drastically from Whistler’s polished and more commercialized presence. The hills at Kicking Horse were hardly groomed, leaving them raw and uncultivated compared to Whistler’s tamer runs. It was like Tofino’s remote beaches versus the sands of Malibu. Sure, everyone loves swanky, but unkempt land offers something uncommon, yet desperately desired- the feeling of freedom, wild abandon, and taming the unknown.
While Mitch hunted fresh powder near the peak, I meandered paths that hugged the mountain’s base. Fortunately for my cross-country skill set, my trails were groomed (minus the odd pinecone here or there, which I awkwardly hurdled). The tranquil, falling snow and picturesque wilderness views, mixed with a side of stamina, made a Nordic girl out of me.
After days spent exploring the mountain, sometimes with purpose and sometimes with a simple curiosity, we would retire to the cozy, snow-covered lodge. There, we would share a Corona by the fire and swap stories with other visitors in the house; or we’d sneak onto the balcony to watch a white blanket camouflage toques and neighboring roofs. In this small town, it was a kick-your-boots-off-and-kick-back kind of après ski. We didn’t mind one bit.
The Rocky Mountains welcomed us later in the week as we careened through Roger’s Pass. This passageway is the epitome of a “scenic drive”- it coils through the landscape, lacking an uncomplicated, direct route, but allows for stunning views not attainable on your average cruise. The wanderlust-laden verb “road tripping” is made for highways such as this one.
We pulled into Kananaskis just in time for spring skiing. Windows were rolled down and layers were peeled off our bodies, while the ground simultaneously melted away some of its own. With Nikiska Resort just around the corner, we reunited with fellow travelers. Over snow-cold Coronas we swapped chronicles from the road. With every unique tale, there was always a common theme weaved through these mountain stories- the ubiquitous reminder that life’s best moments do not arise from the mundane. Instead, they begin with a break in routine; and the extraordinary experiences are the ones that grow right within those cracks.
(photo credit: Mitchell Taylor)
This campaign was full of spontaneity, brewskies, and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-ski-pants adventure. To read these stories chronologically, start with the first post, "From Beach to Peak", where we head to Whistler, British Columbia.