A PEAK EXPERIENCEBy Jane Cassie It's just before eleven on a Saturday morning, and we're standing with other skiers at the top of Sunburst Express. In spite of the chilly mountain breeze, both of my hands feel hot and clammy. I know it has nothing to do with the weather. This is clearly fear factor. A decade or two ago, skis had been as comfy on my feet as a pair of well-worn slippers, and I had been lured by any terrain that was steep and deep. That was then. Now, while hauling a few extra pounds and a lot less muscle, I have apprehensions about doing anything high speed -especially descending. Fortunately this BC resort has come up with a solution.
Sun Peaks, just 45 minutes from Kamloops, also caters to those in search of less adrenaline-pumping activity. Instead of taking this downhill plunge, I could strap on country skis or snowshoes. As well as 28 km of groomed trails that lace this destination's contours, there's a dozen that meander through the backcountry. That'll keep my pacemaker happy. Or maybe I'll rely on other sources of energy to do the job. There are huskies for dog sledding, Clydesdales for sleigh rides and a gravity-driven downhill transporter that goes by the name of a Sno-Limo. This eco-friendly joy ride will provide the ultimate glide, and without any self-propelled effort from moi!I might even ditch the adventure angle altogether. Nestled at the base of these embracing peaks is a Bavarian-like village where I could idle for my entire stay. But first, I have to find a way to get down. Sweat begins to bead on my brow as I ponder my options. Will I be able to absorb the mogul mounds and fresh cache of powder that waits before me? I've heard there's an easy way out from every lift on Sun Peaks, but what happens if I can't handle the simplest cat track? My heart races at the thought of take off. Then, just as there seems to be no hope, help arrives.
The Director of Skiing for the resort is the acclaimed Olympian and Canadian Senator, Nancy Greene, who not only meets and greets, but guides weekend guests. Her smile is infectious and energy is super-sized. After simple introductions, she's memorized everyone's name and knows our level of ability. "There are over a hundred and twenty runs here, so we have lots to choose from," she says with pride. "Just follow closely and we'll check out a few." My quivering knees slow to a mild tremor and, before I have time to dwell on the descent, we're off!The guided tour doubles as a group lesson, and I feel privileged to be learning from one of the best. "Shift your weight on each turn and relax those arms." The principles sound simple as Nancy coaxes and coaches, and after uniting them with a silent prayer, the moves magically gel together. Before we're down from the first run, my 'Big Easy' skis are delightfully living up to their name.
Nancy keeps us in tow for a few more runs then unleashes us to check out Sun Peak's three embracing mountains. Together they boast a total of 12 lifts, 880 meters of vertical, and 3,678 acres of ski-able terrain. From every unloading platform, we discover a mix of expert, intermediate and beginner routes that trail back to the energized hub.While I remain riveted to cruisers, aptly named Mid Life Crises and Second Growth, Brent tackles Static Cling and Spin Cycle. And just like a typical laundry day, they are unruly and rigorous. Although he generally beats me to the base, we both arrive totally spent of energy, yet craving for more.
From the top of Morrisey Express, we have a panorama of the village below. Camouflaged amongst the condos and recreation rivals is Nancy Greene's Cahilty Lodge. The family run property, operated by her husband, Al Raine, provides us with all the comforts of home and has been awarded the Best Hotel Service by Ski Canada Magazine. After experiencing Nancy's gracious hospitality today we can certainly understand why.IF YOU GO: Sun Peaks Resort www.sunpeaksresort.com/Winter/default.aspx Where to Stay Nancy Greene's Cahilty Lodge
www.cahiltylodge.com/ Photos by Brent Cassie and Adam Stein 1. Aerial shot of the Bavarian style village - Adam Stein
2. Nancy shares a few tips during a lift to the top- Brent Cassie
3. Cross country skiers head for back country trails- Adam Stein
4. Steep and deep descent - Adam Stein Travel 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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