The McAlonans were just passing through but the beauty of the place, and endless outdoor exploration captured them. I took a lap with the McAlonans, a young lively family, and they shared what their winter is like here.
“Back home, the slopes are pretty hard-packed, and when it would snow you could not see,” Mike McAlonan said. “But here we are on the slopes 20 minutes from town. I can enjoy with one of my sons powder shots in the trees, while my other son is ripping the terrain park. My wife can ski half-day, exit to the cabin and be enjoying a book by the fire for the afternoon."
We pinch ourselves, to have all this, so easily accessible, no lift lines; it really is private powder,” he added.
I had heard other stories of this kind of deep snow love, but I was getting an up-close and personal view of one as I visited their pine cabin, buried deep in snow in a village of other cabins nestled in the woods. We kicked back to take in the big mountain views from their deck, and took in all of this endless wildness.
The people keep it real
Then I meet three more people who can't seem to tear themselves away from this place. Kim Preston-Thomas, Alvin Henry and Ron Dykstra and I get in some turns and they tell me about their experiences tree-planting in summer, and split boarding in the endless backcountry in winter. But it's also the welcoming community of Smithers that they love.
“The people here are the magic," Henry says. "Sure the adventure beckons at every step for endless outdoor activities, but it is truly the happy, smiling people that keep us coming back."
“With the slopes completely to ourselves, powder stashes in the trees, fresh tracks still to be had a week after the storm,” Ron Dykstra adds.
"It is wide open and so inviting sums it up,” says Preston-Thomas as we are loading Panorama t-bar. “I love this place, it is like family for me.”
As the sun was setting, the alpine glow lit up the trees, I skied with Claire Challen. With big smile she says “let’s carve this up, and enjoy one last run on these perfectly groomed trails."
Challen skis all around the world, but still says this region is "my place." “It's filled with wonderful passionate people … and the endless mountains to explore make it truly the playground of the North!”
Endless fall-line groomers, powder in the trees and a terrain park.
I discover that riding the lifts is easy but deciding what to ski on the on the way down is a challenge. There's so much terrain variety here. From the front side with long, flowy groomers you feel like you're skiing right back downtown. (You actually can in some years.) Then there's the mix of nicely spaced trees with surprise powder stashes. For play time, there is a sweet terrain park, with a mix of boxes, rails and jumps. If you like variety, rolling terrain abounds, so the real treat is that each can seem new, even if you have already skied it once.
Places like Hudson Bay Mountain are becoming few and far between. The personalities and hospitality make it a special experience. After my day I felt like I'd made some new friends and really got to know what makes Smithers exceptional – the people and the skiing.
At the end of the day, in the bar, I was asked if I would like a muffin for the road. So awesome.
You don't find that kind of down-home hospitality every day, never mind at a ski resort. Here's hoping Hudson Bay Mountain never changes its wonderful ways.
Getting here is easy
Getting out into a bold new experience does not have to be difficult. After arriving at Smithers Airport, Highland Helicopters, can shuttle you right to the slopes, a thrilling and scenic way to start your ski day.
The mountain is open Wednesday through Sunday, and seven days a week during Christmas and the month of March.
If you go
Ski Hudson Bay Mountain and Stay Smithers. Grab incredible deals here: http://www.skiandstay.ca/
Looking to get the most out of your visit to Smithers? Make sure to check out Tourism Smithers’ official website: http://www.tourismsmithers.com/
Check out the Bulkley Valley Economic Development Association for inspiration on a place that could be your new home: http://bveda.ca
Fly into Smithers via Air Canada and Central Mountain Air with daily non-stop daily service. http://www.smithers.ca/airport/
For all your Travel Northern BC details, the folks from Northern BC Tourism can help make the planning process smooth. http://www.travelnbc.com
#SkiNorthBC and explore more. SnowSeekers has partnered with National Car rental to secure you a SnowSeekers preferred rate. Make a reservation online, or with an agent and in the Contract field enter XVC4SNO for savings that could cover your ski pass cost every day.
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