Making my own tracks on a guided snowshoe tour with knowledgeable Manning Park Resort guide Janja Klemencic, I spot footprints that were not made by humans. “It’s the snowshoe hare!” Janja says. The very namesake for our footwear was hopping through Manning’s pine forest and leaving its mark.
The vacation was planned purposely on specific dates. The kids were home only one day from university before we tossed them and their ski gear in the car and drove off to Kimberley Alpine Resort for a pre-Christmas family get-away. I wanted to visit with them and have some “just-us-time.” At first the complaints about missing friends and parties were boisterous, but as their skis touched the fresh powder the complaints subsided. It’s true - there are no friends on powder days.
Imagine getting kicked by your horse so hard that your travel companions assumed you were dead? Only when they were about to toss the dirt on your grave did you come to your senses. That’s what the legends say happened to James Hector in 1858 as the Scottish doctor/geologist travelled the uncharted waterways of western Canada in search of a route for the Canadian Pacific Railway.
In the 1890s, people arrived on horseback and train to mine the coal seams discovered rippling under the mountains that dipped towards the Elk River is southeast B.C. The town of Fernie and the mountain owe their name to the coal prospector, William Fernie who established the coal industry mining that vast Crowsnest Coal Field.
Back in 1960s, there was no such thing as Google Earth to show you what lays beyond the next ridge. Doug Mervyn was a pilot and could see exactly what everyone was missing. A great big mountain covered in snow-crusted trees with glades covered in pillow soft snow.
It’s got powder, steep terrain, stellar views and fun events all season that culminate in beers-on-the-snow come spring. Fernie Alpine Resort is also a hill with heart, and a welcoming mountain for children to learn to ski and, as they grow, shred.
The absolute best alarm clock is the unmistakable sound of explosives echoing off the Purcell Mountains that surround Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. The sound signifies that not only will the lifts be open soon, but the snow will also be epic. Explosives are thrown whenever there is significant snowfall.