Revelstoke 2018 – Part 1

Our annual ski trip away was a bit smaller this year and despite inviting all 9 people in the house only Kurt, Zeke, Tate, Fergus and myself were able to go.

This year we chose Revelstoke Mountain Resort which is located on Mount Mackenzie, just outside the town of Revelstoke in British Columbia. We chose to go there not only because its an amazing mountain but also because with our Big 3 passes we get a whopping 50% off lift passes!

Revelstoke impressively, has the longest vertical drop of any ski hill in North America and at 5620ft, you really notice this when skiing all the way from the very top to the base. It`s just huge! The mountain has 3 lifts, The Revelation Gondola, The Stoke chair and The Ripper chair and has 1214 hectares of skiable terrain.Our trip started on a sunny Friday around noon and after packing the car up with gear and attaching skis and boards on the roof (and after quick stops for fuel and Tim Hortons) we were off!We drove North up the Trans Canada highway and turned West just after Lake Louise township to enter British Columbia and Yoho National Park. The road between Lake Louise and Golden is beautiful but in Winter it`s constantly closing for avalanches and its quite scary in places, especially the final 10km into Golden. It begins with a flat section with Mt Ogden on your right and Pope`s Peak to your left.  As you drive into BC and past The Great Divide Lodge and over The Kicking Horse Pass the motorway swoops down into the valley quite steeply. The amazing spiral tunnels are on your left as well as the turnoffs to Takkakaw Falls, the small town of Field, Emerald Lake and the Natural Bridge.

We stopped at Natural Bridge last year on our way to Panorama during the Winter. The boys all walked around the frozen river and into the cave but Fergus and I didn’t as we thought it looked a bit dodgy and I wasn`t keen to slip into ice-cold water. This year however, the river had frozen much more so Zeke, Tate and I clambered down the snowy slope and walked over the middle of the river to the cave. Inside a couple of guys were taking photos of the incredible frozen waterfall and the odd shaped rocks the current had carved out. It was just amazing to see, especially as we had last been there at the end of Summer and the water really gushes through there fast. Its hard to imaging that it gets cold enough for it to completely freeze.We carried on down the Kicking Horse River Valley, the trainline moving parallel to the road almost all the way and headed North West to the Kicking Horse Canyon. This part of the road is scary and is the part that closes for avalanches during the Winter. The Kicking Horse Canyon project says `The engineering and construction challenges in the Kicking Horse Canyon are immense. The area is subject to many rockslides, debris torrents and avalanches’ That says it all really. On the left is a `huge drop down to the river below and on the right, more frightening to me is cliffs and rocky outcrops rising metres and metres above you. These are covered in snow and loose rocks that fall all throughout the year. They are held back by huge areas of concrete barriers and metal fences. All quite foreboding as we drove down the windy road. Once out of the canyon we saw the industrial town of Golden sprawled out below and the cloud covered Kicking Horse Mountain rising above the town. From Golden we headed North towards Donald then turned West towards Glacier National Park. This part of the drive, Rodgers Pass through the Selkirk Mountains in particular, was absolutely breathtaking. The road follows the river South then turns West and flows in between Mt MacDonald and The Camels before heading South again past the Rogers Pass National Historical site. (this as well as the other short hikes were wanting to do along the road were all closed for the Winter) This stretch of road was at the base of some huge mountains that towered up into the clouds, there were multiple snow sheds along the road to prevent vehicles getting caught up in avalanches which clearly had been roaring down the mountains before we drove through as most of the snow sheds were covered in tonnes of snow, one had at least 3-4 metres of snow on the top of it. Insane! To keep the highway and railway open during the winter, the Royal Canadian Artillery uses 105 mm howitzers (cannons) to knock down the avalanches under controlled circumstances so traffic is not caught unexpectedly. It was pretty cool singing along to CCR and other old music while travelling through this beautiful area.Drove around the side of Mount Revelstoke National Park and into the town of Revelstoke. I checked us in at out accommodation, The Gateway Inn and we unpacked the car. The room consisted of 3 double beds, all along one wall facing the TV, a large bathroom, fridge, coffee making facilities and a nice big window with a mountain view. It wasn’t luxury but it was comfortable.After we relaxed for a bit and had a couple of beers in the room w headed into town for dinner. It was about 20 minutes into town on foot and I couldn’t believe the height of the snowbanks we passed. Outside every house and business were piles of snow almost taller that me. Even the build up on the lawns was nearly shoulder height in places. Revelstoke makes Banff look like it only has a dusting. I don’t know how the town copes with all the snow, it was definitely an eye-opener!Town was very quiet for a Friday night, but we soon found out where everyone was! I had been told about a place called The Village Idiot by some guys who had stayed at my hotel a few weeks ago and they said we had to go there. When we opened the front door, the place was packed! And I mean packed, the tables all full, bar seating full and more people waiting.

We popped over to a nearby Irish bar, The Last Drop for a few beers and some pool before heading back about an hour later.

Had to wait at the bar for a table but as soon as we ordered our drinks a booth in the back became free.

The Village Idiot is your typical rowdy ski bar. The walls and furniture are decorated with old skis and snowboards, there is sports memorabilia on the ceiling and walls (we aptly sat in amongst Calgary Flames stuff), big windows, brightly coloured walls and wooden tables and chairs and a happy buzz about the place.The menu is also very good with lots of quirky named yummy dishes. We started with a plate of Philly Cheesesteak Spring Rolls to share which were lovely and made us all more excited to see what our mains would be like. I ordered the HOW TO LOSE A CHICK IN TEN BITES GARLIC PESTO CHICKEN CLUB. This masterpiece starts with a grilled chicken breast sandwiched between two pieces of garlic ciabatta toast, with its dear friends bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, and, of course, cheddar cheese. Finished with a hefty smear of our pesto garlic aioli. Wipe your chin, you’re drooling at a fancy meal! It was nice and filling after all the beer we had already consumed.

The boys all got the BRILLIANT BURGER – The chef’s love affair with burgers is complete. This homemade patty is topped with a generous chunk of back bacon, smoked corn, cheddar cheese, garlic aioli and our very own special sauce. They all raved about it, especially Tate who claimed it was one of the best burgers he has ever eaten! I’d recommend The Village Idiot to anyone, what a fun place!

Next, we moved on to The River City Pub, which had a band playing according to our waitress at The Village Idiot. It was a big, English style pub and reminded me of a Wetherspoons but with music. Double Gin & Tonics were on special, so we had a few rounds and chatted before moving to another table once the band set up and the dancefloor was cleared.  Tate started the dancing off for the night and eventually Fergus and I joined in. I was rubbish as always but the band were quite good, a mix of country and rock, very Canadian.When the band was close to finishing we headed back to the Inn in a cab. Things got a little out of hand at that stage, tiredness, drunkenness and 4 lads which resulted in a bit of a scuffle. By about 3am we were all tucked up safely in bed. Overall it was a pretty fun night of good food, pool, beers, dancing and laughs.

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Snowmobiling at Kicking Horse Mountain

Yep, you guessed it! Another FAM tour! This time it was a full day snowmobiling tour with Rocky Mountain Riders up at Kicking Horse Mountain in BC. I know I have been very spoilt with all these freebies but it really does make these tours so much easier to sell to our guests when they know you have done them yourself and they can hear the enthusiasm and excitement in your voice when you tell them about your experiences.

Rocky Mountain Riders is a tour and rental company based just outside of Golden, BC which is 1.5 hours drive from Banff on the Trans Canada Highway. In the Summer they rent out Cam-Am ATV’s, Side by Sides, and Master craft Wake Board and Surf Boats, while in Winter they rent Snowmobiles and run Snowmobile tours.

Fergus and I were collected from the Banff Springs Hotel at 8am and were the second to last pick-up before the minibus headed off in the darkness to Golden. We drifted in and out of sleep on the 2 hour journey before waking just as the bus climbed the 10km access road to Kicking Horse Ski Resort where the Snowmobile office is located.Screen Shot 2017-12-28 at 11.03.35A map of the trail we took to Wiseman Lake

The group sighed our waivers, got kitted up and went to choose our vehicles for the day. Our lead guide Fin, a fellow Kiwi, from Wellington gave us instructions on how to drive our Snowmobiles and then ran through hand signals for stop, slow down, are you ok? etc. Within half an hour we were on our way.1Fin instructing us on hand signals2Getting ready to head off onto the trail

On the way out, we all went in one big group, I was close to the back, just in front of Fergus and at the beginning I found the Snowmobile easy to use, just accelerate on the right, break on the left and a kill switch for shutting down the engine. At the beginning the trail was quite narrow and steep but once we got out onto the trail proper we were able to accelerate on the long, if not a tad bumpy, straights. I thought I was doing quite well but after our first stop, Fergus went ahead of me, he knows how to ride a motorbike and is an excellent driver so that made sense. 3.jpgHappy as Larry with Fergus behind me

As we drove down the trail further, Fergus was getting further and further ahead to the point where I wasn’t able to see him anymore. The people behind me were just as far back and eventually I lost sight of them too, even on the straights. There were trails branching off left and right and I began to get a paranoid that I had lost everyone and gone down the wrong path somewhere. So I sped up.

Unfortunately I lost control, hit accelerate instead of brake and ran off the side of the trail and crashed with a thud into a mound of trees, dirt and snow. It all went down in slow motion and all the while I was thinking ‘how much is it going to sting me if I damage the Snowmobile?’  I was pretty shaken up and was visibly shaking, not something that happens to me often. I was sure I was going to have to give up and get taken back to the base. But by the time the group behind me, which thankfully included Rob, our driver and guide, caught up, I was feeling better. Rob made sure I was ok and proceeded to drag my Snowmobile out of the scrub and back onto the trail. After a quick inspection he assured me it was fine and said ‘people crash these things every day’ which made me feel a bit lees of a numpty.

We carried on and eventually met up with the rest of the group. When I told Fergus I had crashed he said he’d had wondered where I had disappeared to and hoped I hadn’t had a crash. From then on, he drove a bit slower and I could see him glancing behind as points to make sure I was still there. What a sweetie.

Once at the lunch stop, a bunch of us ventured out onto the frozen Wiseman Lake for some fun.  We hooned around on the lake doing donuts, racing each other and seeing how fast we could get our machines to go, it was a lot of fun!4Fergus about to take off over the lake2After a while we all headed back to the trail, parked our snowmobiles in a neat line and settled down by the fire to wait for out lunch. I started off with a selection of cold meats and cheeses before having a beef burger with cheese followed by some marshmallows. Chatted to some of the other guests who were from all over the place, Brazil, Australia (of course), Canada and Japan. I tried to warm up by the fire but it was snowing heavily and there was no covered areas so was pleased where we got on our way again as the snowmobiles had heated handlebars which was really nice.3A neat line of snowmobiles parked up for lunch4Enjoying our lunch and chatting to the other guests

I was right at the back this time as I didn’t want to slow anyone down, which was fine with me, I didn’t want to feel pressured to go too fast again.  Fergus was in the fast group ahead so I didn’t really see him at all on the return journey except catching a glimpse of his green jacket way ahead whenever we stopped.

The trail back was much the same, we drove past my crash site, then went deeper into the forest on a different trail for a while. This one was a little bit more technical which I liked, there were steeper inclines, thinner bridge crossings and a very bumpy path which meant you had to stand up to avoid bouncing around so much. It was hard on the legs.5At least I wasn’t the only one who managed to crash….6Taking selfies during one of our stops

Eventually we made it back to the base at Kicking Horse. My hands, legs and bum were sore and I could barely walk after parking my machine and heading back to the hut to return the gear I had borrowed. It was nice to put my own snow boots back on that had been sitting beside the fire all day.

As it had been snowing all day and the expectation was a further 15-20cm, Rob, our driver advised us that he was going to get the van quickly checked in Golden before heading out over the pass. It was also getting dark so it would be a long, cold trip back to Banff but Rob bought us all Tim Hortons on the way through Golden, that was so nice of him!

After quite a snowy and perilous journey back to Alberta, we stopped briefly in Lake Louise and then carried on to Banff where Fergus and I were dropped at the Banff Springs.

I’d give this tour a 8 out of 10. I really enjoyed it but crashing and the fact I wasn’t a very confident driver made it a bit difficult for me. The lunch was great but I would have preferred to go to a shelter to get out of the snow for a bit. The scenery was beautiful and the guides were all wonderful and made you feel comfortable and at ease. I’d definitely recommend anyone to try snowmobiling! Thanks Rocky Mountain Riders!

More info:

Who: Rocky Mountain Riders

Where: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Golden, BC

What: Hotel Pick up & Drop off, Helmets, boots, outerwear & snowmobile

Difficulty: Suitable for all skill levels

Duration: Full day (8.00 pick up from Banff)

Price: $255 per adult / $80 per child

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snowshoeing in Kootenay NP

In Early December I was lucky enough to be invited on a Snowshoeing FAM tour with Discover Banff Tours.

Discover Banff Tours is one of the most well-known tour operators in Banff and provide lots of exciting tours in and around Banff National Park. Starting in 1998, they specialise in small, personalised groups run by professional, local guides who have a passion for Banff and the National Park.

They are also involved in the Banff Ambassador Program, so almost every young traveller who comes to Banff to work, goes on their Discover Banff and its Wildlife tour when they first arrive as part of the programme.

We were collected from the town lot behind the Mount Royal Hotel at 9:30am and got into a full minibus that left for Kootenay along with a second bus full of local hotel workers. En route we were introduced to our guides, Anick and Nick, who gave us an overview of the tour, a brief history of the snowshoe, the fur trade in Canada and a brief explanation of the weather and geography of Kootenay National Park.

It was all very interesting, and I learnt a fair bit I will be able to pass onto our guests while selling this tour.

After arriving at the Paint Pots trail entrance, we clambered out of the busses and were instructed on how to put on the snowshoes that were delegated out to each of us. They are basically just a strong, wide, plastic base with 3 straps that hold your foot in and spikes on the bottom under your toes for grip on the snow. Quite odd once you put them on but after a few steps you get used to them.1Getting geared up at the trail head.

We took off in 2 groups and followed each other down the trail for about 20 metres then turned off into the forest where we meandered around and over fallen trees, up and down small mounds of snow and out to the clearing of the Vermillion River.  The sun was low but bright against the white fluffy snow surrounding us and it felt warm on our faces as we came out onto the clearing. There, we were given a bit more history about the Paint Pots and a chance to walk around freely in the deep snow.2 Learning about Kootenay National Park.

Crossing the large, wooden bridge was a bit of a challenge, climbing up and down stairs in snowshoes is no easy fete I can tell you! The Kootenay River that starts high up in the surrounding mountain passes, flows down to the US, back up into Canada and finally out to the Pacific Ocean was semi-frozen and where it had frozen, small multi-levelled waterfalls appeared making the flow even more interesting, especially as it glistened in the late morning sunlight. 3Glistening Keeoenay River in the morning sunlight.

After splitting into smaller groups, we ambled off into the Pine forest on the opposite side of the river where Anick stopped to explain the distinct types of Pine trees in the thicket we were walking through, after about 5 minutes walking at a fast pace we hit upon a large, flat clearing containing relics from the Ochre mining days. Old, rusted pipes and scoops litter the ground amongst the snowy mounds that in Summer are dark red Ochre mounds that were once destined for Calgary to be made into a pigment base for paint.4Ochre deposits under the snow.

We trudged up the trail towards the Paint Pots site and on the way up we found a small snow-covered hill to the right of the trail, our guides thought it would be a great idea to have a race from the top back to the trail and test out our running style in snowshoes. It was pretty funny, although most participants only managed a fast walk instead of a full-on run. 5Ready to hurtle themselves down the snowbank.

Once at the Paint Pots we had a look around and learnt more about the Ochre and how they collected it for. I think this site is better visited in the Summer, so you can actually see the colours of the different pools as well as the red Ochre on the ground, in the Winter, it’s all covered in snow, so you cannot appreciate how different this spot is to the rest of the park. It’s still beautiful all the same.

We wandered out of the clearing and back into the woods again, this time heading up above the pots on a trail through the tall Pine forest. We stopped briefly to observe a large tree favourited by passing Bears who had been scratching at it. There were huge claw marks all over it, the highest one being about a foot taller than me. Standing there I was glad it was Winter and the Bears in the area had already gone off to hibernate…hopefully.

We met up with the remainder of the group for a well-earned rest in a sloped clearing covered in deep snow. Our guides set up their small camping stoves to heat up the Maple Taffy and handed out hot chocolates to keep our hands warm as we waited in anticipation for out sweet treats. Maple Taffy is made by boiling Maple SAP to 112 degrees and then pouring it onto the cold snow where it sets. A popsicle stick is then rested on the Taffy as it sets then rolled around the stick to create a Maple lolly-pop.

This traditional dessert’s origins lie in Quebec, Eastern Ontario, New Brunswick, Manitoba and New England. 7Making traditional Maple Taffy.

While most of the group rested and indulged in hot drinks and Taffy, some tried the ‘crazy carpets’. Basically, pieces of thick plastic you ride down the slope on, head first! People would go to the top, lie on the crazy carpet and zoom down the hill at high speeds, either crashing into the snowbanks in a burst of powder or making it all the way to the end and stopping softly as the slope flattened out.

After packing up all the gear and putting our snowshoes back on the whole group made their way back into the forest to head back to the trail head. This was probably the most technical park of the hike, as we were climbing over fallen trees, crossing small semi frozen creeks and negotiating sticks and branches that were blocking the trail. A few people stumbled as the backs of their shoes got stuck between tree branches, this included me, and I understood why snowshoeing burns 400 calories per hour after this short jaunt through the woods.8Negotiating fallen trees, creeks and snowbanks in the woods.

We made our way easily through the clearing and over the bridge, again, with great difficulty, and meandered, in small groups, back to the vans where we parted ways with our shoes and jumped in for the 45-minute journey back to Banff.9Overall, I’d give this tour a 6 out of 10. The guides were interesting, knowledgeable and friendly and made sure everyone was coping with the pace. The walk itself was both relaxing and challenging, we had a lot of different terrain to walk on which kept things interesting and the weather was excellent.  I do however prefer this particular walk in the Summer due to the Paint Pots being a place where the colours of the ponds and the ground is the main attraction. In winter all that is covered in snow, so you cannot appreciate it.

More info:

Who: Discover Banff Tours

Where: Kootenay National Park

What: Hotel Pick up & Drop off, Snowshoes & hiking poles, refreshments, crazy carpet ride

Difficulty: 3km, minimal elevation gain

Duration: 4 hours

Cost: $74 Adults / $42 Children

Lakes, lakes and Waterfalls

This weekend we took my one of my best mates and former flatmate and his boyfriend, both over from London to some of my favourite places in Banff and Yoho National Parks. 

This post doesn’t contain ellobarate descriptions of the places we went, no detailed accounts of the colours of the lakes or the shadows over the valley from the mountains etc, the pictures speak for themselves in my opinion. 

First we did the 10 minute, short hike to the lookout point overlooking stunning Peyto Lake and the surrounding Waputik Range, Caldron Peak, Peyto Peak and Mount Jimmy Simpson. Photobombed by 2 ladies! Love this photo.Stunning Peyto Lake, amazing colour.One of the best views in the Rockies!

We then headed to the most famous lake in Banff National Park, Lake Louise. Lake Louise is beautiful but it just gets far too busy and I much prefer it in Winter when you can walk across the lake to the Glacier, and it’s far quieter.Lake Louise shorelineLouise Creek

After being turned away from the Moraine Lake turnoff and the overflow parking lot due to it being full we detoured up the Trans Canada to Yoho National Park to visit Takakkaw Falls. It was my first visit to the falls and after a very windey and steep but magnificent drive we arrived at the carpark. It’s a short 10 minute hike to the falls but we decided to scramble up to get a closer look and were awarded with a great view of the 260 metre falls, the creek below and the surrounding peaks.Takakkaw FallsAdam & Gilles Stunning views

Later in the day we finally make it to my favourite lake, Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. Unfortunately we were too Lake to go Kayaking and have a bite to eat at the cafe but climbed the rock pile to get some lovely views of the lake and valleys around it. Not many places compare to this.Adam & IAdam & GillesLooking down the valley towards the highway

Overall it was of my favourite days out sightseeing. I just love taking friends to see these amazing local spots and seeing new places for myself. There is still so much to see here in the Rockies. I cannot wait!

Paint Pots – Kootenay NP

The Paints Pots site is located a couple of miles from Marble Canyon on the 93 and you can actually take a trail from the Canyon to the Paint Pots instead of driving. It’s a short 30 minut walk to the pots themselves, through forest then a small plain and a river crossing.The First Nations tribes of this area collected ochre from the Paint Pots for important ceremonies. The yellow ochre was cleaned, kneaded with water into walnut sized balls, then flattened into cakes and baked. The red powder was mixed with fish oil or animal grease to paint their bodies, tipis, clothing or pictures on the rocks. The paint pots themselves are formed by the accumulation of iron oxide around three cold mineral springs. The greenish colour of the largest pot is the result of the mixing of fresh water from a small creek, which empties into the largest pool.There are information boards dotted along the trail telling you about the history of the area. Well worth visiting.

Marble Canyon – Kootenay NP

Marble Canyon is in Kootenay NP in beautiful British Columbia. Located on highway 93 on the way to Radium, it’s a great drive out there and there are heaps of stops along the motorway for hiking, lookouts or camping. 

The Canyon hike is a 1 mile loop around the high Canyon that surrounds Tokumm Creek. There are boardwalks and bridges that span the Canyon so you can look down deep into the rushing creek. Tokumm CreekBridge over the CanyonUp at the top of the CanyonRelaxing on the Red Chairs

PANORAMA 

In March, the house packed up and went to Panorama ski resort in BC for a couple of nights. Before I start, let me tell you about our travel buddies/flatmates.

  • Carris – English, beautiful girlfriend of Sean and travel guru.
  • Sean – English, boyfriend of Carris and a mean cook/baker.
  • Kurt – Australian, older brother of Zeke and the maker of the amazing video below.
  • Zeke – Australian, Kurt’s not so little brother and the loudest in the house.
  • Tate – Canadian, amazing at almost every Winter sport and longtime Banff resident.

Through being Banff locals we got lift tickets for $69 a day and accommodation on the mountain for $9 a room! Awesome!

Day 1
Fergus, Tate, Kurt, Zeke and I left early in the day on the Wednesday but found out early on our trip would be longer due to the  93 being closed for avalanche control. We stopped in Lake Louise for a sausage roll before continuing up the Trans Canada through Yoho National Park to Golden. 

 On the way we stopped at The Natural Bridge, a rock formation that spans the Kicking Horse river just past Field. The boys meandered down the path in deep snow and along the side of the icy river to go into the cave under the bridge, it looked wonderful in there but I didn’t want to fall into the feeezing river so Fergus and I stayed on the bridge above.We continued on, beers in hand, music blaring, through the gorge to Golden and on to the 95 to Invermere. Stopped for some Timbits before climbing up the hill to PanoramaAfter checking into the Pine Inn we unpacked and headed down to the store on the old town gondola to get supplies (beer and Yagermister). 

Suituated in BC’s Purcell mountains, Panorama has nearly 3000 acres of terrain, 6 chairlifts and Canada’s largest slopeside hot pools as well as shops, cafes and bars.After a few drinks in our rooms we headed for the T-bar, a bar within crawling distance to our lodge! Had a few beers and played some pool (I kicked everyone’s arse!) and chatted. After a while Carris and Sean turned up (Carris had to work in the morning) and we enjoyed a hilarious game of musical bingo which I was rubbish at and by the end I didn’t know if the game was still on every time a song came on! After that we hit up the dance floor and showed off our dance moves, it was so fun. 

Later on it turned a bit fuzzy, I know I had 3 shoeys (drinking beer out of someone’s shoe) and it was a pretty late and messy night…….

Day 2

After a lovely breakfast of bacon and egg sandwiches cooked in our room on a camping stove by Carris and Sean we warily made our way up to the chairlift a mere 10 metres from the lodge.

Headed right up the very top via 2 chairlifts and started our day.  Started on a mogully black run where there was a lot of stopping, falling over, laughing and general hungover shenanegins. Lost Kurt and Zeke after the second run and found out later they had retired back to the room. It was very icy over the whole mountain which made it hard work but it was sunny so we were rewarded with amazing views of the valley and surrounding mountain ranges. 

Relaxed on the deck chairs up the top at the Summit hut and had coffee. It was a lazy day but most of us skied right up until near closing time. Later in the afternoon we hit the hot pools. The one large and two smaller pools ranging from 35-40 degrees were so relaxing after a day on the slopes despite loud children splashing about and the boys throwing balls and squirting water at each other, it was rather nice. Boys will be boys!There is a free shuttle bus that takes people to and from Invermere nearby so jumped on that and headed down the mountain to town to get dinner. It was a long journey on a windy road, we were tired and some were a bit green round the gills. The bus driver kindly recommended a place called The New Station Pub to us which ended up being very nice. It is right on Lake Invermere and we saw a lovely sunset over the lake and mountains.Had a big dinner as many of us hadn’t eaten lunch. I had the Chicken Souvlaki which was yum! Had a few drinks and walked up to town to look around while waiting for the bus. Not much to see in Invermere. We were even stopped by local security asking why we were loitering around at 10:30 pm in town! We all look like friendly folk, I think….

Day 3

Headed back up the mountain again in the morning, another lovely day but the mountain was still icy up the top. Did a few runs up the top before sticking lower down where the snow was slightly softer. Had lunch and beers (it was St Patrick’s day so Guinness all round) down at the main building and chilled out for a bit in the sun.Did a few more runs up the top and through the park before calling it a day. The terrain was great and the mountain has long, wide tree runs and wasn’t busy at all, it was just a pity the snow wasn’t great but for $69 who can complain really.

Packed up the cars and headed on our way home. Stopped at Radium Hot Springs for a dip before carrying on through the gorge on the 93 to Castle Junction. The road had been closed for avalanche control as I mentioned earlier and we could see why as we travelled through there. There were reminants of avalanches all along the road. Up on the mountains you could see where the snow had fallen and on the road where it had been cleared. It was an amazing piece of roadway and driving over the passes and through the valleys really makes you appreciate the scale and beauty of the Canadian Rockies. I really hope to do the drive again in the Summer as there were so many viewpoints and things to do along the way we didn’t stop at. A weekend I will always remember, thanks guys!

Here is a GoPro video Kurt made of our trip.Muppets go to Panorama

Nanaimo – Who said there was nothing there?

We caught the small Islandlink bus to Namaimo from downtown Victoria. Not a great amount to see but we did pass a lot of forest and costal areas which was nice, admittedly I did sleep most of the journey.


We were dropped off in the afternoon at the Nanaimo ferry terminal so had to catch a bus to the main town and then walked up the hill to our next couchsurfing host’s home. It was a lovely big old house with plenty of character. Our room was a double room downstairs complete with ensuite. Sweet! Another couple from Columbia & Sweeden were in the next room. Our host, Steve also had his mother and daughter staying over that night so it was a full house. 

Fergus and I went to get some wine from the local bottle shop while the other guests cooked a lovely dinner of veggie burgers, hummous, salad and other yummy stuff. It was so lovely to have a proper healthy home cooked meal. Chatted and then had an early night.


The following day we decided to go for breakfast in town. After walking around a bit we finally settled on a small French cafe. Unfortunately they were very busy and after a muck up with our order we were given free biscuits and a free piece on Nanaimo bar. Great! The food was yummy and we were in no hurry so it was all good. 

Watched the daily canon firing beside the bastian then headed around the dock to the water taxi to get to Protection Island and jumped straight on after paying $9 each.


A short ride later we docked on the island just beside where Canada’s only floating pub is. We walked up onto the island past a carpark with no cars, only golf buggies, that is how the locals on the island get around!


We strolled along the gravel roads (all with oceanic names (Pirates Lane, Captain Morgan’s Blvd etc) past amazing houses and shacks surrounded by lush forest, it was simply stunning. At one point we cut out onto a small piece of land beside a jetty and walked around the rocks and shared our Nanaimo bar, it was nice but very sweet.


Strolled around the rest of the island, checked out the outside area of the closed museaum and headed for a bite to eat at the Dingy Dock floating pub.


We had clam chowder, a huge bowl of fries and a beer before catching the ferry over to the neighbouring Newcastle Island. This island is not inhabited except for a few campers. There is also a Museam and a small store. We wandered around the islands perimeter through large forests, past rocky coves where we saw a small seal pup waiting for its dinner, small beaches, an inland lake and some totem poles.

Caught the ferry back to Nanaimo and walked up the hill to the house. It was quite late so we stopped at a pub on the way home for dinner. I had more Poutine. Mmmmm. Settled in for an early night again after stargazing for a while.