Another winter season came to a close here at Vagabond Lodge at Kicking Horse Resort. It was an amazing way to finish off the winter for skiing though if nothing else. It was winter powder to the final turn.
The resort did a good job of making everyone as safe as possible. I was concerned over the past few weeks with an influx of new visitors to the resort with the closing of Whistler and most of the other resorts in the province. So far our area has managed to get through this past year, without any big covid outbreaks. So far.
We have some projects here at Vagabond to keep us certainly busy for the next couple months. The resort usually opens for the summer about the middle of May and we are still waiting word on the official dates because that is when we will open again. With Canadians having to stay close to home this summer, I suspect it will be a busy time here at the resort with some great golf, mountain biking, hiking, rafting available in our backyard.
Here is a video from the final weekend of skiing here at Kicking Horse. Now time to think warmer weather and kayaking.
We are in the final days of the winter season here at Kicking Horse resort. The resort closes on April 11. I know this is a repeat of what I have said over the winter but I was surprised how busy it was over the Easter weekend with all the governments telling people to stay home. One of the staff at the resort on Sunday had a sign at the entrance of the gondola and was keeping track of where people were from when she was scanning their pass. The biggest number was from Vancouver/Whistler. Even a bigger number than Alberta. Whistler has an outbreak of the covid variant and shut down last week for the season. So I assume the epic pass holders who get some free skiing at Kicking Horse drove 8 hours or so to ski here. Not great and disappointed people would do that. Hopefully there will not be an outbreak here in Golden considering we have very few cases. But the BC government does not post numbers in specific areas unless they are actually from Golden so we may never know.
Having said that, the conditions are still amazing. We had some new snow a few days ago, and I managed to make a couple runs with friend Ken outside the resort and it was our definition of spring skiing. If I don't get another run this season I will not be that sad. It was a great way to finish off what has been a great year for skiing but ...
We have had some great requests from regular guests who are hoping to get back here next season which gives a person a lot of optimism. We can't wait to welcome guests from around the world back.
Vaccination for me happens probably in the next week. Remember to get vaccinated, wear a mask and stay home and be part of the solution.
Enjoy the video and dream of next year.
And so another season comes to an end at Vagabond Lodge. Our final guests this winter left yesterday, although the resort is staying open for another week, closing on April 11. We have basically only been taking regular guests this winter which we felt very safe doing. They were great to have. We have been fortunate in our area not to have many covid cases and the resort has done a good job of working with the staff and customers to make sure everyone is following the protocol. We will enjoy hopefully the last week of skiing and then get things organized for hopefully a great summer. Friend Patrick and I have been doing our almost daily excursion. It is certainly a great way to social distance and we love the challenge. The video is from a few days ago.
If you are planning to come through our area in the next few months, be aware of road closures on the transcanada highway #1. It is a multi year project to twin and straighten out about 4km of road to the east of Golden. Starting April 12 until June 1 the highway will be closed with all traffic rerouted through Kootenay National Park and back through Golden. In May it will be open on weekends. It's a long term pain for long term gain with road closures expected throughout the next few years supposedly only in the off-season. Once it will be completed it will be awesome.
We are getting some nice inquiries and reservations from around the world for next ski season. Great to see the optimism.
I love spring skiing at Kicking Horse. The main reason is...it is powder skiing. Sure as you get closer to the bottom of the resort you can get a mixed bag, from hard packed, ice to soft stuff. But with 4000 vertical it is unlikely you will get the same snow conditions from top to bottom this time of the year. It is certainly well worth some hiking to find untracked powder. We did get a week of warm sunny weather and that was ok if you are sitting in the sun on the deck with a beer. But I am not a big fan of warm weather skiing. It is just too hard on the old knees. Give me soft powder any day and that is what we found again yesterday after a nice snowfall. It got more challenging as we got close to the bottom but that was ok.
The season is winding down with the resort extending their closing date until April 11th.
March 15th 2020. One year ago. A day that will unfortunately stick in my memory for a long time. It was our final day of skiing at Kicking Horse for the season. The next morning we woke up to find out Kicking Horse Resort was closed. That was the end.
We had guests at the time. It was looking like our best year ever for occupancy. We had a group from Vermont/Alaska and another group from Germany and Italy. The American group had been doing some ski touring and was not supposed to leave for another week to return home. Finally by Wednesday night I managed to convince them they should return home as I was concerned for their health as well as ours. The next day they left. Same with the European group who were heli-skiing with a local company, The heli-skiing company shut down on the Wednesday. Our guests again were not supposed to leave until the Saturday. I was concerned about the Italian who did not seem that healthy. They left for home also on the March 19th . The Italian when he got home did get tested and was negative..
It has been a surreal year to say the least for us. Tourism throughout the world has been devastated to say the least.
Our season at Vagabond Lodge has been dismal with the fact the bulk of our usual visitors are from overseas.
We have had a few regular guests come and stay from Alberta but only a few. Has it been worth opening? Probably not.
The resort has seen a steady base of skiers driving for the day from Alberta. Mostly the younger set. They hop in the car at 7 am and are here by 10. At 4 they hop in the car and drive home. We have managed to limp through the winter with the ski area closing on April 4th.
It has been a good year for snow up to now, which has been really the only positive besides the fact we have stayed healthy as well as our family.
And with being vaccinated hopefully before the summer there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It has been frustrating in BC getting a handle on what exactly is being planned for vaccinating the general population. It is a dogs breakfast to say the least. The provincial government actually hired Telus for their call centre to book times to get the shot. Have they ever tried to get through to Telus at the best of times? What a disaster. You would have thought they would have had something in place for months but instead they roll out their plan it seems, at the last minute. I would have thought they would have known a vaccination plan would be necessary. Brutal. A friend in Mexico has gotten his already and we are waiting for a date yet.
I suspect the summer will be relatively busy for travellers in our area. With warm weather hopefully coming soon, everyone will want to get out of town and the mountains seem like a safe place to be.
We are getting down to the final runs of the season and still hopeful of a good dump of snow before it all closes but no complaints if it doesn't come. Bring it on. I am looking forward to some mountain biking, hiking and kayaking. Oh yes also getting vaccinated would be nice too.
I love exploring the amazing terrain we have around Vagabond Lodge. They call it "slackcountry." It means taking the gondola to the top of the mountain then heading out of bounds and then being able to come back to the resort at the bottom. You can really go in either direction. My favourite is to head south. It involves about a 30 minute hike/climb and then away you go. We only go with snow conditions are safe and never go without avalanche safety gear such as transceiver, probes, shovels. Nothing is 100% fool proof. I usually go with a former National Park Warden who knows all the terrain like the back of his hand. I feel safe going with him and we follow his instructions. The video is from a few days ago with him and a few other people. It doesn't get much better with your clothes on.
Our coldest spell of the winter is over. For the past week or so daytime temperatures were in the -20C range and even colder. I was shocked to see it as busy as it was here at Kicking Horse. But I have been surprised generally about the skiers here this winter. I did not go skiing during this cold spell. Been there, done that. I personally do not enjoy skiing when it gets that cold. Instead I did some snowshoeing out our backdoor and that was great. It was cold to start but you warm up quickly. But with the cold weather I started to think a lot about warmer days. I am truly optimistic about better days ahead concerning the pandemic and the tourism industry. I can see some glimmers of hope in the future. But with warmer days ahead, I think of what I like to do the most and that is kayaking. Our backyard is an adventure playground. One of my favourite places to kayak is on Bow Lake in Banff National Park. It is about an hour and a half drive from Vagabond. Truly amazing spot. Sometimes winds can be tricky and storms can blow up in an instant it seems which I have experienced. I love skiing and usually I don't think about summer until the ski season is over. But this year it is a season filled with good thoughts. Video is from last summer kayaking on Bowl Lake.
We usually get a cold spell each winter and we have it right now. Temperatures range from about -16C at the bottom of the resort to about -22C at the top. Sorry...too cold for skiing for me. Been there, done that. We haven't had too many guests this winter but we do have some right now and they are braving the colder weather and seem to be enjoying it. We are certainly better off than an hour east at Lake Louise and Sunshine Village. Sunshine Village outside of Banff is actually closed today due to the colder weather but they are in the -30C range and with limited indoor space because of covid they are doing the right thing and closing. I see Marmot at Jasper is also closed today. We are so lucky to have a gondola. No way I am getting on a chair lift in that kind of temperature. It is supposed to get warmer closer to the weekend so it is not a long cold spell. Our covid numbers in BC has stabilized in the past couple weeks which is great to see and in Golden we have managed to have a few isolated cases but no outbreaks unlike Whistler, Big White and Fernie in recent weeks. The BC Government is supposed to unveil some new restrictions for ski areas in the next few days. I assume this has to do with Whistler and staff housing and parties. With the big long weekend coming up for Alberta and BC there is concern and rightly so, about outbreaks as a result of holiday time. We hope everyone will take a deep breath and wait for travel and parties, when it is safe. We know how lucky we are to live where we do. Friend Patrick and I were one of the first a few days ago to climb to the top of T1 after a big snowfall to get some first tracks. It was a special day. Enjoy the video. If you are looking for a feel good story for today, click here. This story happened just down the road from Golden.
We know we are lucky living where we are and we do not take that fact for granted. It continues to be a great ski winter here at Vagabond Lodge and I am still amazed how busy the resort is.
Here at Vagabond, we are basically closed for the season. We do have a few reservations but just a few and are mostly return guests. We have been fortunate in our area and in BC, they have not shut down everything as in other places in the country and in the world. But on the other hand, maybe it would be better to close down the province for a couple weeks and get the case load down. It is a double edged sword, to try and keep the economy going but at the same time telling everyone to not go out or travel. We have had a treat in recent weeks when we have gone to the top of the mountain for dinner at the Eagle's Eye Restaurant. They have done a good job of limiting the numbers of people and making sure everyone is spread out. Instead of 100 people, they are only allowing 49 maximum. The food has been the best it has been for a number of years. It has basically been the first time we have gone out for dinner in months.
I have continued to ski most days with friend Patrick. It usually takes about 25-30 minutes wait at the gondola and generally everyone is doing a good job with social distancing and wearing a mask. A lot of skiers are wearing buffs instead of masks, which I understand are not good for face covering. It may be something the resort should do and clamp down on that.
The big concern we have is if there is a big case number at ski resorts, the government may shut them down as in Ontario. Whistler has some big numbers in recent weeks, as well as in Fernie, and Big White. Once it takes off, it is difficult to get those numbers down. BC Health is not doing a good job in their communication on the number of cases in smaller areas, unless there is a major outbreak. Here in Golden the latest numbers are 8 new cases but that was from over a week ago. They could give live updates but don't for some reason. I think this is not doing justice to the local community.
Besides the skiing we are keeping our heads down and waiting for our turn to get vaccinated which should be in the spring or early summer.
But in the interim we are snowshoeing and skiing. As I said at the start, we know how lucky we are and hopefully we can share with our awesome guests next winter. Video is some off-piste skiing a couple days ago with some friends.
It's the start of a new year and we can only hope it will be better than 2020. Certainly if the snow conditions are an indication it is off to a good start. We have been getting pretty steady dumps of snow and the skiing is pretty sweet. Friend Patrick who is in our bubble, and I have been trying to get out most days for a run and T1 or T2 are usually our destination and we have not been dissapointed. I have been surprised by how busy it has continued to be even after Christmas and New Years. I have no idea of where the skiers are coming from as our area does not have a big population base. Despite the directive from BC Health to ski at your local hill, and avoid non essential travel there seems to be a lot of people coming from outside our area. Our greatest fear right now besides contracting covid, is to have all the ski resorts shut down and that certainly is a possibility if the numbers keep going up. Kicking Horse Resort has done a pretty good job though of making sure it is as safe as possible in the lift lines and making sure people are masked up. Golden has had a bit of an outbreak of covid in the past couple weeks which is disturbing considering the limited health facilities we have here. We went from 0 local cases to 14 within a week and are still waiting for new data for this past week. BC Health has extended the restrictions until early in February. There seems to be a lot of people deciding they do not need to follow the directives. For Vagabond Lodge, we have basically had the whole season cancelled. We are hoping later in February if restrictions are lifted a bit, we can get back into business. But the key will be for the numbers to drop dramatically. But right now we are basically telling everyone to stay home and be part of the solution.
We are certainly luckily living where we live so we can take advantage of our backyard.
Ken along with his wife Lori are the owners and operators of Vagabond Lodge at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.