WINTERTIME WONDERS OF MOUNT WASHINGTON
While strapped into webbed soles, we waddle over the blanket of freshly fallen snow. Beams from trusty headlamps ignite the way and reflect onto powder pathways that shimmer like glitter. The illumination is augmented by the star-studded sky, and aside from my laborious breathing, the night is still, peaceful and serene.
The evening snowshoeing tour is just one of the wintertime wonders that we experience during our visit to Vancouver Island’s year-round destination of Mount Washington. A vast expanse of undulating terrain is specifically designated for the brisk walk in the wilderness, and an additional fifty-five kilometers of well-groomed track meanders into Strathcona Provincial Park, attracting skiers that range from Nordic neophytes to cross country champions.
While hoofing up hills and brushing up to frosted evergreens, my heart rate accelerates and beads of perspiration trickle from my brow. “This stroll is more like a cardio circuit,” Brent affirms, “and it’s working up a ferocious appetite.” We soon discover that Mount Washington has considered this common after-effect, for when we return to the Raven Lodge, a multi-course fondue feast is served.
Table tea lights and a flickering fire cast an inviting glow over the upper floor of the impressive post and beam treasure, magically transforming it from a daytime bistro, to a fine dining establishment. Silver service accompanies sophisticated presentations, and while dipping into Gruyere cheese and Belgium chocolate, we share powder tales with our new snowshoeing comrades.
As well as the impressive Nordic facilities, mountain lovers are also drawn to the resort’s three hundred meter natural Luge track, a lift-accessed tube run, two terrain parks, a half pipe and popular mountain-geared weekend events.
Tubing down the slopes
Onsite accommodations vary, and whether in search of a cozy chalet, two-story townhouse, or on-slope condo there’s something in the pool of 3,500 beds to meet the need. A taste of old-world tranquility and charm can be discovered during a stay in the original alpine village, where pedestrian pathways lace between more than fifty hillside residences. Although only accessible in winter by Snow Cat, bob sled, a pair of boots or skis, kids have a hay day at play while the cars (and their fumes) remain at bay in the lower parking lot. Townhomes and condominiums grace the drive-in accessible routes of the newer alpine village and any one of the multi-leveled homes that line Foster Lane will provide a truly upscale escape. As well as booking our return flight through the central reservations line, we opt for a one-bedroom Deer Lodge condo, where we’re close to the hub, have all the comforts of home, and enjoy the added perk of a slope-viewing hot tub.
Runs funnel down to bustling Alpine Lodge where the connecting Bradley Centre takes credit for being one of the largest ski rental facility of any BC resort. Although skis used to be as comfortable on my feet as a pair of well-worn slippers, pre-retirement, the old muscles just don’t seem to be as reliable, or pliable, as they once were. Needless to say, I have my doubts as we prepare for the downhill plunge.
Adrenaline rushes through my veins as we buckle, snap, zip-up then glide. And after prodding through the turnstiles like thoroughbreds at a starting gate, we’re whisked away in six packs and quartets to mile-high summits. A fresh snowfall envelopes the 1,200 acres where fifty ski trails range from broad, scenic cat tracks to steep mogul mine fields. And while escalating to what appears like the heavens, my heart palpates with excited anticipation of the downward descent.
Slopes From the windblown pinnacle, the alpine-to-ocean vista, backed by heaven-bound coastal peaks, is absolutely spectacular. Our attention is also diverted to the backside of the mountain where just as many peaks frame the setting. But instead of the panorama, our eyes are riveted on Canada’s first double off-loading fixed grip quad, as it trails down the outback. Appropriately titled, the ‘Boomerang,’ its steep and deep, double black diamond, and yet another wintertime wonder for us Mount Washington fans.
IF YOU GO:
Mount Washington Alpine Resort https://www.mountwashington.ca/
PHOTOS compliments of Mount Washington Alpine Resort and Brady Clark Photography
#1 Snowshoeing the powder
#2 Raven Lodge
#3 Nordic lovers
#4 Getting air at the terrain park
#5 Tubing down the slopes
#6 Varied accommodations are able to meet every need.
#7 We’re whisked away on high speed chairs
#8 With an Ocean-to-Mountain backdrop. Photo by Brady Clarke SlopesTravel Writers' Tales is an independent travel article syndicate that offers professionally written travel articles to newspaper editors and publishers. To check out more, visit www.TravelWritersTales.com
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