The first week of the trip was lacking free wifi or cellular data sufficient to keep up on the blog posts, but I am now back in the Lower 48 where the free wifi runneth over!
I picked up my brother Brad on the way through Portland and we started the trip by cover of darkness. Brad agreed to come for the first few days of skiing and I was totally stoked to have a buddy to get this behemoth of a trip underway. We didn’t last long as I had spent all day in prep and had no time for a nap before hitting the road. We found a rest area, and decided we would get a few hours of rest and get back on the road before 5 the next morning.
On our way through Seattle I could not help myself from stopping at my favorite breakfast joint, Beth’s Cafe. I don’t know what it is about that place that I like so much… The food was amazing and the hash browns were bottomless. This was Brad’s first time here and I think he was content with his bacon waffle.
Canada was amazing. Aside from a thorough search at the border heading in, Canada welcomed the Rad RAM and its passengers with open arms. The first leg of the drive was destined for Whistler-Blackcomb, which took Brad and myself through the beautiful and elevating “Sea-to-Sky Highway”. This was not my first time through this area, but it was a first for the destination of WB.
Whistler is big, coastal and big. The town is full of walking paths and a bunch of apres spots to hang out at. Mostly I noticed that Whistler is too rich for my blood, thank the economy for a 1.30$ US to their 1$. We camped in parking lot 4 surrounded by like-minded van and camper folk. The Rad RAM felt at home with other adventure rigs. We went out to Tapley’s Pub for a beer and played some Skee-Ball, but all in all there was not a single divey spot in the whole place.
The skiing was nice, crusty from recent warm/freeze cycles, but the groomers were good. Brad and I went from peak to peak via the gondola they recently built and had some serious air under our feet, the gondola is 1,400 feet off the valley floor at times! I found myself in a whiteout condition I had never experienced before at the top of Blackcomb which tested my abilities to keep on the right fall line to get back into the trees. We spent two days exploring WB and didn’t even scratch the surface of what there is to see there.
The second resort that we traveled to was Revelstoke. Revelstoke, or as the people in the know call it “Reve” was by far the best skiing of the Canada portion of the trip. Reve was hit with over 2 feet of new snow over the 72 hours before our arrival and kept dusting the upper mountain while we were there. The trees were truly some of the best runs I have ever taken in my life. Light fluffy powder and nice open lines with occasional drops off of boulders into pillow-like landings. This is a small town resort with a huge vertical drop. The locals I rode with on the lift seemed to resent being added to the Mountain Collective pass, but were nice even though I was one of the many that was getting in on BC’s best kept secret.
Brad had a flight out of Calgary, so we drove in the night before and Brad treated us to a hotel for the night. Hot shower and basic cable are some things you can live without, but are nice treats on the occasion. It was fun having someone on for the first few days, but the challenge of a solo trip through the US was still looming in front of me urging me towards the unknown.
I skied just a few runs at Sunshine Village, the mountain was packed as it was a weekend and I wasn’t too thrilled with the crust that was available to ski. I decided to hit the road and take a full day and a half to drive to Sun Valley.
I have been nursing a bum knee for the season and find that a 24 hr break makes all the difference in how I can ski and how I feel the next morning.
As I headed south I came across a hot spring called Radium Hot Springs. I hadn’t realized until I stopped that this was in fact where I was planning to stop and shower on my way south from Banff. The spring was pushed into a swimming pool style tub that steamed gloriously and smelled of minerals. I found myself a hot jet to sit next to and worked and stretched my legs in the warmth of the pools. I resisted the urge to go into spa attached which boasted a deep tissue massage, maybe a few more days of skiing will change my mind.
I crossed back over into the US at the crossing just north of Whitefish, MT. Glad to be back on US soil to continue on alone, there is a false sense of security that comes with a AAA card.