SUN PEAKS, B.C. ? Want to give the skis or board a break for awhile, or maybe you don?t even ski or snowboard but you still want to get out and enjoy Mother Nature. One excellent option is snowshoeing.
It?s one of the oldest forms of transportation that dates back thousands of years. Snowshoeing was once strictly used for utilitarian purposes ? today, it?s the fastest growing outdoor recreation sport. And that?s because everyone can enjoy it ? regardless of age or ability ? all you need to be able to do is walk.
"A lot of non-skiers just enjoy a winter holiday. This way they get to see the beauty that normally they don?t get to experience," said Irene Kastner, a tour guide with Sun Peaks? snowshoeing tours.
Several trail and tour options
Sun Peaks has an awesome assortment of snowshoeing trails ? probably the biggest collection in Western Canada from a resort, with over 14 kilometres over five different trails, all departing from the village base.
"Up top here, you are only allowed to head out with a guide because ski patrol doesn?t want people unattended ? they want to know everyone is off the mountain,? said Kastner, as we were heading up the chair lift on our way to explore Tod Mountain (one of three mountains that make up Sun Peaks Resort).Though guide books and trail maps (and rentals) are available at Guest Services, Kastner says the mountain ops people prefer guests travel with a guide.
Kastner turned ou t to be an excellent guide, sharing with us a number of stories on the history of snowshoes and the local folklore of the Sun Peaks area. As for views, they were spectacular ? panoramic vistas of the Monashee and Selkirk mountain ranges.
Our particular trek was the Alpine tour, but there are a number of other options, including one that offers a marshmallow roast and is easy enough that kids as young as five can enjoy. Alternately, take a Moonlight Tour or check out the wildlife tour ? Valley of the Lynx tour.
On the trail of the big cats
The wildlife tour operates on Sundays only and while there are no guarantees you will see wildlife, you will be exploring an area in which many travel.
"This summer we had wolves move back in again," said an enthusiastic Kastner. "It?s been a while since we have seen any here, but there are two packs that have moved in ? one with five animals and the other, with seven."
Another really stellar option for those who don?t ski and ride (and even if they do) is to join one of the groomers on a Cat Trax Ride.
Sun Peaks is one of the few resorts that offer this unique activity and of course, you have to give up a an hour or so of your time in the evening to do it, but it is well worth it.
Where?s the brake, dude?
Not only do you get a 101 lesson in grooming, but you get to see the resort from a whole different perspective ? and trust me, the slopes seem a lot steeper in the dark, so don?t be surprised if a groomer like Cory Donald, chuckles as you involuntarily try to press on a brake that doesn?t exist.
When you swing around for that last down slope, one spectacular view you will see is of the village. It?s fully illuminated but surrounded by a sea of black and looks amazing.
These are just two of the many options available for some off-hill fun available at Sun Peaks. There?s also Bungee trampoline that just begs to be tried out, as well as dogsledding, sleigh rides, snowmobile tours and of course, the ultimate fun for young and old, the tube park.
All activities can be booked through the Adventure Centre in the main Guest Services building.
For more stories and detail on Sun Peaks check out our SnowSeekers' destination page.