K2inCanada's Blog

February 2, 2015

The Year ended with an almost Perfect Day

Filed under: BC Ski Trip 2014, Canada, Ski, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 11:06 PM

I can’t believe I am actually running at night – 3 times a week learn to run thing put on by some people at work – rather than skiing. It is just too warm out. To not completely get out of winter mode just yet I figured I get another post done of our ski trip during the Christmas break. I wish I would keep up better with our traveling reports but it is always nice to look at the pictures again and remember those days.

Day 6 (Dec 31): An almost perfect day…if the temperatures would have a bit less negative. When we got up it was still -21C in Field and it did not warm up on the drive to Lake Louise. The weather nerds actually predicted a windchill of -32C for Lake Louise. Lucky us though there was no wind and the sun was out in full force when we arrived at the trailhead to Moraine Lake. It’s a road in the summer which they groom for cross country skiing in the winter. And the grooming was perfect with two tracks going up and one down and a big skating lane in between. The trail goes up for most of the way but the grade is very gentle. My grip tape worked beautifully, so did Jeff’s kick wax. But I did not see much of him – he was racing up and down the hill like a maniac. While I took my sweet time taking pictures along they way. Views were few and far in between on the way up for the first 9km. And when I came to the end of the nicely groomed trail there was no lake. Although there was a nice enough view down into the valley below. A single man-made lumpy track was continuing on along the snow-covered road. It went down from here and I was waffling a bit if I should do it with my legs still being tired from yesterday’s long “back-country ski”. But  I had my heart set on going to Moraine Lake. So I followed the single track down for another 1.5km or so. The snow was soft and my poles disappeared about half way into it. But still no lake and the track continued to go down. Mind you, the views were awesome along this stretch and it was well worth it even without getting to the lake. I had promised Jeff to not ski for too long – there is no hut to wait in at the parking lot – and I turned around without ever seeing the lake. The climb back up to the start/end of the nicely groomed trail was easy enough even though poles were of little help. Back at the top I ran into a couple of people just starting down on the single track. They said the lake was about 2km from there. I was so close, damn it. Next time I’ll make it for sure. I was on my way down for maybe a kilometer or so when I saw Jeff coming up again. He had hoped to run into me much earlier than he did not knowing that I went down the single track. Oh well. At least he wasn’t waiting at the car. We continued down together for a little while but soon enough he was gone again while I continued to take pictures along the way.

It was cold that day but the sun and the great skiing made it all bearable. Also heated car seats are just the best thing in the world on a day like this and we enjoyed a cozy and beautiful drive to Radium. We had touched 3 National Parks that day – Yoho, Banff and Kootenay NP. We initially intended to stay in Radium that night but the motel, Crystal Springs, we usually stay in did not want to rent out their last room for only 1 night. Their loss! Since we intended to have dinner in Invermere at the best Pizza place in the world, Pepe’s Italian Fuel, anyhow we figured we might as well stay there. The motel is just across the road from Pepe’s. The Boutique Hotel we had stayed in 2 years ago had been renamed to Canterbury Inn – they don’t have a ghost but apparently Invermere started out as Canterbury hence the name of the motel. Otherwise nothing special about this place and we were the only guests from the looks of it. Apparently Invermere really comes to life in the summer. The room was freezing and it took forever to find the thermostat hidden behind the TV. If we stay there again I need to remember that. At Pepe’s we were as usual not disappointed – a large half Chicken Pesto and half Italian pizza and an arugula salad to start helped to forget the cold outside. So yummy – the sun-dried tomatoes at this place are to die for good. I guess we could have found a pub to go to for New Years Eve but we were tired and just went back to the motel (room now nice a warm). We had to watch a couple of movies to be able to stay awake till midnight 🙂

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January 25, 2015

It feels like -26C

Filed under: BC Ski Trip 2014, Canada, Ski, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 7:28 PM

Back to the ski trip report we did over the Christmas break. I added a few more pictures to the last one as well. If you would like to check them out – click here.

Day 5 (Dec 30): I don’t think it ever got to the forecasted -30C (feels like -41C) that night. When we checked the weather network in the morning at about 9am – yep we did sleep in to give the sun a chance to warm things up – it said -21C, feels like -26C. I put on even more clothes than the day before – 3 shirts and two long johns underneath the ski jacket and pants – and we went out to brave the cold. I don’t think I ever experienced cold like this. Everything in the car was pretty stiff even the ski bags. The eyes started watering a bit and the eye lashes froze right away. But that only lasted for a couple minutes. We grabbed our classic crowns and walked through town to the start of the trail. Well at least last year that’s where the start of the trail was. This year, it looked like a snow mobile had been through there a few days ago and there was something that looked like a trail but no tracks set. The open valley was only covered in a thin layer of packed snow/ice but it was okay to ski on. And once we got going it did not feel as cold as I would have thought -26 should feel like. There was no wind so that must have helped even though the sun was still hiding behind a thin layer of high clouds. Once we crossed the road and entered the forest there was a bit more snow and someone had obviously skied through there before. So we followed those tracks up the hillside. At the junction between old and new trail we stayed right on the old trail towards the lake rather than doing the detour via Natural Bridge. But a few hundred meters into the trail there was a tree down and we had to take the skis off to get over it. There were no longer any tracks on the other side and we had to break trail for the next  9 or so km. Initially the trail followed on an old logging road which was fine but later on it is barely a hiking trail which was a bit more tricky. There were a few more tree barriers we had to navigate and every so often the snow just collapsed below us. I was amazed we did neither break any skis or poles nor any bones. It was actually fun being the first people doing the 11km ski into Emerald Lake this year. But it took an awful lot longer!!! Last year – with me still being weak from the stomach flu I had two nights before and not haven eaten much since – it took us 5.5hrs to ski to and around the lake and back. This time it was 2.5hrs alone to get to the lake and I took way less photos! So we had to turn around right away without doing the nice part around the lake. We did take a “we made it” picture though. The way back took another 2+hrs. Even though it is on average more downhill on the return there was no going fast anywhere along the trail.

We did have a nice surprise though when we walked back into town. There were about 15 or so elk right on the train tracks that you cross to enter town. And they let me get pretty close too. Such beautiful animals. We made it back to the room by 4pm. Just enough time to have a hot shower and hot chocolate with chocolate liquor before dinner at 5PM. Today I had a beautiful Bison Stew – very hearty thick sauce made from lots of red wine – and Jeff had a curry. I was killing some time writing my blog while waiting for Game of Thrones to start.

Watching the sunset while we had dinner

Watching the sunset while we had dinner

January 12, 2015

Golden cold

Filed under: BC Ski Trip 2014, Canada, Ski, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 11:15 PM

Day 4 (Dec 29): We woke up to sunshine and COLD. The mountains around Golden almost glowed like gold in the morning sun – so beautiful. The car said -13C. Whenever in Golden breakfast at the Big Bend Cafe is a must and as usual we were not disappointed. I helped Jeff with his Lumberjack breakfast eating 1/2 of his 2nd pancake on top of eggs and potatoes and sausages and toast. Thus fueled up we headed up to Dawn Mountain. When we arrived at the lodge the temperature said -17.5C. We were smart that day and changed in the lodge rather than at the car. The lodge is really nice, one of the few that actually has sofas which was a blessing last year when I was so sick and slept on one of them while Jeff skied. Luckily this year I felt great and was ready to hit the trails again. I went classic using my Peltonen with the grip tape while Jeff decided to skate. Surprisingly I seemed to have no grip early on going up the “easy green” Beaver trail despite the conditions looking good for the grip tape. Going back down Beaver and Hawk Owl I got very cold as it actually is a long downhill. Despite my grip issues I decided to do Raven, a much more difficult rated trail than Beaver. The weather was so nice and I knew there are some great views from along that trail well worth the scramble. And I was not disappointed. The trail needed a bit more snow but overall it was in pretty good conditions and one could easily navigate around the sticks. It was hillier though than I remembered. For the rest of my ski I took it easy staying mostly on the green and some blue trails going back and forth – Cariboo, Hawk Owl, Pegasus, Moose, Cariboo, Hawk Owl, Pegasus, Moose, Marmot, Chickadee, Beaver Run – and managed another almost 2hrs. Total of 3hr 20min. Jeff was already at the cabin. He was tired after 1.5hrs – yep that’s skating for you. I was getting a bit cold near the end. The temperature gauge in the car still said -17.5C when we left.

Tonight was supposed to be the coldest night of the trip and we were on our way to Field which is even higher and therefore colder than Golden. The drive though the Kicking Horse Canyon was great and the roads were clear. We made it to Field in no time with still daylight left. It was COLD though. The women at the Trufflle Pig’s front desk said they are expecting a low of -41C (Weathernetwork predicted -30C)!!! and warned us to not go for a walk too late. But since we had about an hour daylight left we did stretch our legs a bit walking down the road past the inn. We were bundled up pretty good but my fingers still got cold. So did my camera. Battery didn’t last long and died just when we saw the elk on the hillside. We returned to a nice warm room , especially nice due to floor heating. This was the only place we had pre-booked. And we almost did not get a room. So we ended up with a room on the ground floor that had a kitchenette but not much of a view. Still a nice spot to hang out for a couple nights. Despite having a place to cook we rather had an early dinner at the Truffle Pig restaurant. It was just after 5PM and the place filled up within minutes. I think we got the last table – it’s a small restaurant mind you given the location. Dinner was excellent – Venison Cabbage rolls for me and Black Pepper Pasta with Chicken Sausage for Jeff, plus spring rolls as appetizer and blueberry-raspberry pie for dessert. We were not holding back that night washing everything down with Mt Begbie Chocolate Stout. Not cheap but well worth it. And we booked a table for the next night as well. Back in the room we hung out for a bit and watched more of Game of Thrones – internet access was very spotty unfortunately otherwise we would have monitored the weather network to see the temperature drop.

January 7, 2015

Sun is out, having fun

Filed under: BC Ski Trip 2014, Canada, Ski, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 11:10 PM

Day 3 (Dec 28): We got up at 7:15 that morning to get an early start. Roads were fine all the way to Revelstoke and we made it to the cross-country ski area by just after 10:00 (1hr45min driving). The sun even came out near Revelstoke and we skied Mount Macpherson in the Monashee Mountains just west of town for 3.5hrs. I did not remember it as that hilly – Mickey Olson, Evelynn’s Choice as a warm up, then up Lower Main Line, up Log Roller, down Hydro Hill, down Beaver Lake Rd, up Novice Glide, down Cedar Rambler, up Creek Crawler, up and down Upper Main Line, up Lower Main Line, up Log Roller, down Hydro Hill, down Novice Glide, up Cedar Rambler, up Hydro Hill, down Beaver Lake Rd and back to the cabin. Beautifully groomed trails. None of those hills are extremely steep so even I can stride up most of them. I used my Peltonen with the grip tape but had to work at it. Good grip early on but as I got tired it went away. Overall much better ski though than the previous two days – I guess I am getting the hang of it again. Temperatures were rather mild. Some nice views that day as well with the sun poking through here and there.

The drive to Golden was uneventful in mostly overcast conditions but roads were clear. It took about 1hr40min. We found the same motel we stayed in last year but things had changed. There was no more office!!! Only a phone number on the sign. And while Jeff tried to phone I found the new owner cleaning one of the rooms – the only one still available :-). It was significantly colder in Golden at -7C. Nevertheless we walked into town for dinner. It’s a few kilometers and it was pitch dark. We walked on the road the whole way which had some traffic on it. But we made it without getting run over.  We had dinner at “The Island” restaurant. Awesome food but not cheap. I had smoked duck meatballs on prawn risotto and roasted veggies. Jeff had elk risollo stuffed with gorgonzola and roast potatoes and veggies. Unfortunately, I only always take outdoors pictures, those meals would have been worth one too. All washed down quite nicely with Mt Begbie beer. On the walk back we discovered that there was a perfectly fine and cleared walkway on the other side…just hidden behind a snow bank so we could not see it on the walk into town.

January 5, 2015

A rough day

Filed under: BC Ski Trip 2014, Canada, Ski, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 11:18 PM

Day 2 (Dec 27): For whatever reason I didn’t sleep well that night and we were slow getting up. To our surprise everything was white out and it was still snowing as we drove up to Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre. It was windy and cold and snowy up there. The snow blew into the car like crazy while we changed and got the skis out. I was tired and cranky and didn’t really feel like skiing. But I did. Woodland Bell felt awful – tracks were soft and I was wobbly like hell. Didn’t seem to have grip with my crowns even though the ground was soft. So it must be my technique. But I kept at it and it got better once on Carl Wiley. There the tracks were firmer and I had good grip finally. But my legs felt tired from the day before. To top it all up, I got stopped by ski patrol and realized I forgot the ski pass in the car while changing in a hurry to keep some of the snow out of the inside of the car. So I had to ski back to the lodge and show my pass to the people there. I could have just stopped right there but I didn’t. Rather managed to do a 2nd lap around Carl Wiley and added Maid of Vernon on to the loop where I ran into Jeff. I felt much better on the 2nd lap.

Back at the car we were ready to leave only to find out that the back tire did not want to turn at all. FROZEN! Got lots of help from the Sovereign ski club executives and others (one of them was Don – the same guy who caught me without my pass earlier). Sitting in the middle of the snow covered parking lot in the driving snow at -8C plus whatever the windchill was that day, we hoisted up the car and took the offending wheel off. The brake (disk) looked okay but definitely did not turn. First our friendly helpers tried heating the brake with a blow torch but we all were afraid of melting something even more important. So Don got a heavy duty extension cord and a heat gun and gave the brake a good b…heating. We put the tire back on and voila it at least started turning backwards somewhat. After backing up the car for the whole length of the parking lot the brake finally came fully lose and we could go forward again as well. Two of the guys who were just about to leave when all this happened but stayed to help followed us down the hill to make sure we got down safe. What a great support from the locals there!!! A bit too much of an exciting start to our trip though. We thought about having the dealership check out the brakes to be sure we are good to go for another 9 days but they were close. Oh well, we continued on hoping that the worst would be over. Never had issues again but avoided using the parking brake from now on 🙂

The drive to Sicamous was nice – even though it was still snowing lightly. Everything looked so pretty being covered in a thick layer of snow. Just past Sicamous, 20km out of town and maybe 35km away from Revelstoke, traffic stopped – like dead stop – and we sat in a long line of cars. Nothing was moving other than when one of the cars ahead of us turned around. We had no idea what was going on – no radio station came in properly. Eventually, after about 1hr of waiting, Jeff asked a trucker behind us if he knew what the story was. Apparently a fatal accident at Three Valley Gap had the highway closed down completely since noon for at least 8 hrs. Still 3hrs to go from where we were sitting. So close and yet so far. We turned around to find a place to stay for the night. But the whole town of Sicamous was already booked out. So we decided to try our luck in Salmon Arms – but again no such thing. Everything was sold out. The Super 8 was just selling their last room for an incredible price of $199 to a single older guy. Unbelievable! Okay, they offered him the senior rate of $10 less. No way a Super 8 room should cost that much – definitely not in the winter in Salmon Arms. Hence we ended up driving all the way back to Vernon and checked into the same motel as the night before. It had been 5hrs since we left the hill. Apparently it takes 5hrs to Vernon no matter where you start – Vancouver or Vernon. What a day – that was for sure too much sitting in the car compared to skiing. Went for dinner at the Irish Pub across the motel (Beef Stroganoff and Guinness) and then watched 3 more episodes of Game of Thrones.

Here we go again

Filed under: BC Ski Trip 2014, Canada, Ski, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 10:46 PM

Making good use of the holiday break – 10 day BC road trip to cross country ski in a different place every day. The snow outlook wasn’t great. Even the Rockies were looking at a low snow year so far. So we decided to skip Canmore and beyond. We did the trip clockwise again like last year hoping for more snow to come while we are on the road. Only accommodation we pre-booked was in Field where we stayed 2 nights.

MapRoute (Medium)

Day 1 (Dec 26): We left rainy Vancouver just after 9AM Boxing Day morning and drove to the Overlander ski club along Hwy 5 between Merritt and Kamloops. The sun came out just before we dropped down into Merritt. The ski place was sunny and about -2C or so but not very much snow on the ground. Nevertheless everything was groomed well enough and safe to ski on. But the tracks were icy and I had no grip with my crowns at all. Jeff was smarter and took his skates. I did the usual loop around Cow Poke, Side Winder, Ponderosa, Little Joe and Cartwheel around the lake. It was a bit of a drag but I was outside and the sun was shining. What else could I wish for – maybe seeing the moose that is apparently hanging out near the trails. But that did not happen either.

We drove to Vernon for the night, staying at Blue Stream again. The town was bare of any snow unlike a few weeks ago. For dinner we walked downtown and tried a new place to eat – the “Naked Pig”. The meat Sampler of smokes sausage, ribs and chicken with spicy fires and coleslaw was awesome – mind you I didn’t really needed that much meat but it was soooo tender. The ribs were the best. And I have never had chicken that tender. We left nothing behind but sparkling-clean bones. Back at the motel we made it into a TV watching night. “The Host” – a great SiFi movie and then 3 episodes of Game of Thrones :-). I love the books and the TV series is almost as good.

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