The smell of fresh breakfast got me out of bed. As I entered the dining area for coffee and a fresh breakfast spread, I was excited to see the clear blue sky. Getting a blue bird calm day is not typical, but when you get it, soak it in. And that is exactly what I did as I sipped my coffee while talking with my soon to be ski partners.
When I arrived at the boot room located in the lower level of one of the original lodges, it was organized chaos with plenty of staff support to get you ready for your day. Thanks to the orientation and supporting staff, everyone was getting their gear prepared to get started skiing in short order. I can see it in everyone’s eyes: excitement mixed with “All Business.”
And it’s time to load up onto the snow cats, which I can only describe as a limo on tracks. It’s truly a skiing dream; it holds approximately 12 people complete with food/drink and music. Everyone was full of excitement, whether they are repeat visitors or experienced skiers. I was the one person who had never gone catskiing and was offered plenty of comfort while chatting with our guides.
Before we reached the summit, the snowcat stopped for a very detailed safety briefing. This really was where most of my answers were met, and all my fears or concerns regarding skiing in the backcountry where eliminated.
The safety briefing covered not just my role but gave me comfort in the entire safety program and the amount of support staff Island Lake Lodge has dedicated to ensure both experience and safety of the guests. Some of the guides have been with them over 10 years.
Gloves. Check. Helmet Check. Saftey Check. Time to go ski.
As the Cat made its way around the last turn towards the top, the breathtaking view and surrounding area was unfolding before my eyes. As we all got geared up and standing over our first run, I again was slightly nervous about my skill level or if for some reason I would get lost.
Again, the guides detailed the run and the next meeting point, we each had a ski buddy and one by one we followed the mountain call of the lead guide.
Following the sounds of the guide, I made my way down the mountain finding some fresh untouched powder to make my turns in. I quickly found myself skiing in the moment. As I was making my way down the mountain with my ski partner, the only sound I could hear was the echo of the lead guides mountain call as the snow quietly cut by my skis.
As I looked up at the tracks, the run was as wide as my smile, because I knew we were repeating this all day long and again tomorrow. The feeling really settled in when we ended the day at the bottom of our last run with a wooden case filled with Fernie Brewery beer. As we all gathered around with a cheers, I had a heartwarming smile that stayed with me well after I made my way home days later.