Last year we took 4 trips and felt like we overdid it a bit. It didn’t give us much time to actually ski locally in Tahoe, so this year we planned only 2 trips and the second one was pretty ambitious. Over 12 days we would drive up from the Bay Area to Mt. Hood and then further north into interior British Columbia to get some of the more remote resorts on our list. Then we would head west and pick up our new travel trailer and drive home, camping 2 nights.
Skiing Mt. Hood is tricky because they get a lot of rain and strong storms that close the upper lifts at Timberline and Mt. Hood Meadows, so we didn’t commit to going there until it looked like we would hit good weather. Luckily we got some of the best weather of the season with sunny skies, recent fresh snow, and no wind.
We skied the 2 main resorts on Mt. Hood: Timberline and Mt. Hood Meadows, and one of the most unique resorts on our list that specializes in night skiing: Mt. Hood Skibowl. The most fun we had on the whole trip was skiing from 5-10PM at Skibowl under the lights. Ski magazine called them the largest night skiing operation in North America (which is probably not true) but what is certain is that they have some of the steepest night skiing terrain in North America. Their upper lift is seriously steep and they groom a lot of it.
Later that night after we finished night skiing it started pouring rain, so it’s a good thing we were heading north the next day. We drove 442 miles pretty much due north to Penticton B.C., and there wasn’t a moment that it wasn’t raining. At several points there were rivers flowing down the middle of the road because the large snow banks funnel the water right down the road. Eastern Washington suffers from freezing rain and the forecast was for up to 1/3″ of ice accumulation, but luckily that didn’t happen. This is part of the challenge of this project and we are going to hit bad driving weather frequently.
Our first resort in B.C. was Apex Mountain, and that place is fantastic. There is a tiny village located far up a lonely road that winds up the mountain. At one point we wondered if we were going the right way because there was no traffic or indication that a ski resort was at the end of the road, but we eventually got there. There were probably less than 200 people skiing the 1100 acres that day and it was almost surreal to us coming from the crowded California resorts. Conditions at the end of the day were similar to those that can only be found in the first hour at most of our frequented resorts — patches of untouched powder on the recently groomed runs, and smooth everywhere.
We stayed the next 2 nights in Kelowna which is a surprisingly urban and built-up city around a huge lake. There are many towns there and they all form one large population center without much to distinguish between them. It’s beautiful though, and would be a great place to live. The weather is very mild without much snow on the ground. You need to climb up a couple thousand feet to get to the bases of the ski areas. We skied Big White and Silver Star from that home base and then moved on to Kamloops where we skied Sun Peaks for 2 days.
People in Canada were so friendly and we loved it — especially in Kamloops and Sun Peaks. They seemed genuinely thrilled that we had driven up from California to ski there. We also found the food to be excellent and prices for everything were cheap (except for diesel fuel), and especially when you consider the exchange rate to US$. It is pretty much skiing heaven for us and we can’t wait to go back.
This trip came about because we had ordered a 17-foot travel trailer from Escape Trailer Industries in Chilliwack, BC in April 2016. It was originally supposed to be ready in May 2017, but the production date got moved up to Feb 7th and we jumped on that opportunity to ski before picking up the trailer. So after 2 days of skiing at Sun Peaks we hopped back in the car and drove 200 miles to Chilliwack. Highway 5 is an amazing drive between Kamloops and the coastal lowlands.
We picked the trailer up the next day after Escape exported it over the border for us. We were delayed for well over an hour trying to get back in the U.S. Welcome Home!
Back in the U.S. we spent 2 days driving home and spent 2 nights in the new trailer. The first night was at AiRung’s friend’s driveway in Seattle, and the 2nd was at Valley of the Rogue state park in southern Oregon.
It was nice getting back to California where there was lots of green grass and blue sky, but we were already missing interior B.C. and won’t forget this trip for a long time. 7 new resorts in a single trip is a new record. We don’t plan any other new resorts this year, so 64 resorts completed will be the final count. That’s 10 new resorts this season, which is far more than our average.
At this point of the season in early March our local resorts Heavenly and Kirkwood have received over 550″ of snowfall and the skiing is excellent (when the wind isn’t blowing). We plan to finish out the season strong over the next 7 weeks with many weekend trips planned.