Saturday, January 28, 2017

Vacation in British Columbia

We spent the second week of 2017 in British Columbia (Canada).  We have been eager to return to the Okanagen area just west of the Canadian Rockies to visit with friends and to explore Silverstar Resort.

On Saturday we flew into Kelowna where we met up with Andrew and Brenda, friends we first met through the  Canadian Alpine Club - Montreal Section many years ago.  It had been nearly 10 years since we last visited and it was great to see them both. We didn't spend long in Kelowna. From the airport we drove east to Silverstar Resort where we also met up with Damon and Jayne, friends we recently bumped into during out travels in the Dolomites.  We spent the weekend XC skiing and enjoying catching up with our long-time friends over some great meals.

Brenda and Andrew returned to Kelowna for work on Monday and we continued to explore the vast number of ski trails in the Silverstar Resort and at nearby Sovereign Lake.  One of the reasons we have wanted to explore Silverstar is that it has both nordic and alpine skiing trails, fantastic snow fall amounts, and a small village-like quality.  Silverstar resort is a nice size, easy to get around, and has a charming quality in part due to the brightly colored hotels, huts, condos and homes in the village and dotted around the mountain. We had fantastic accommodations and found it easy to ski from our suite or walk into the village.

During the week we nordic skied with Damon and Jayne, and also used the chair lifts to access the alpine terrain on our snowboards (with Damon joining us on his Alpine Touring skis).  Each day we managed to find the best conditions and plenty of soft fresh snow in and around the resort.

Friday quickly arrived and it was time to pack up our gear and head north-east to the town of Revelstoke to explore a different kind of terrain.  Andrew and Brenda are both bona-fide backcountry skiers and they regularly ski in the mountains around Revelstoke and Rogers Pass near the continental divide.  We were lucky enough to be invited to join them for a couple of days exploring the easier slopes in this area.

On Saturday we parked at Rogers Pass and headed to some easy slopes from the NRC parking lot.  Avalanche conditions (and perhaps our skill level!) limited our options and this option seemed like a sensible way to spend the day.  When we left the car there was a low cloud level and we weren't expecting too much of a view.  Thankfully as we headed higher so did the clouds, and by the time we stopped for lunch the sun was out and the views were plentiful.  We were on our split snowboards and managed to descend through the small trees and outcrops without to much ado.  We got back to the car by mid afternoon and all agreed to head back to Revelstoke for an early dinner and a few drinks.

On Sunday we were somewhat tired from the previous day, and we opted for a short adventure from the Asulkan valley parking lot.  The picturesque ascent wound through the trees and we emerged at the bottom a couple of small and relatively untracked slopes. This time we did two laps (ascent and then decent) before heading back to the car and because we fell down a lot we were thoroughly exhausted by the end of it all!  Thankfully Andrew, Brenda and their friend Steve waited for us at every intersection despite our slower pace.  We thoroughly enjoyed our adventures with them and finished our trip off with a quick meal in Revelstoke before heading back to the airport for our trip home to Connecticut the next day.  Overall, it was a great trip with fantastic skiing opportunities and great company!

Siverstar Village (day)

Silverstar Village (night)

Inverted Snowman sculpture

On the XC trails

Taking a rest at a warming hut along the trail

The warming hut from the outside

"Skinning up"

Clouds clearing.....

Sheri on the way down

Bruno in hot pursuit...

The sun peeks through

Great views

Mountains all around

Happy New Year 2017!

We had a quiet New Year's Eve.  We celebrated with a relaxed dinner and went to bed early in preparation for a day on our snowboards.  On New Year's Day we headed to Black Mountain which is located in Jackson, only a few miles down the road from our chalet.  We arrived to learn that the lifts were not working.  No worries! This gave us the opportunity to get some practice on our split-boards.

We made a quick trip back to the chalet, exchanged our regular snowboards for our split-boards, and returned to Black Mountain.   We made several trips skiing up using skins and riding down in board-mode. This was the perfect preparation for an upcoming trip to British Columbia to do some back-country riding with our split-boards.  With each lap we were able to practice the ski-to-snowboard transition and the at the bottom of the hill reapplying our skins for the ski back to the summit.  It was great fun!

Bruno skinning up Black Mountain

Sheri's board in ski-mode.

Sheri's Trip to Bend, OR

In the first week of the new year Sheri traveled to Bend, Oregon for work.  In spite of a lot of snow on both coasts and travel delays across the country, she made it to Bend without complication.  Bend has received records amounts of snow this winter, and while she was there they received an additional 16".  She enjoyed seeing lots of snow in town and on the distant mountains, including Mt Bachelor.

It was a productive week, and fun too.  One evening Pfizer employees were treated to a tour of the Deschutes Brewery followed by dinner in the tasting room.   Deschutes Brewery was one of the first craft breweries in the US.  It was fun for the pharmaceutical scientists and engineers to compare the stainless steel equipment and bottling process in a brewery to those in a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant.  The Mirror Pond Ale is excellent, and highly recommended!

Best of ...... 2016 Christmas cards

Each year as we take down the Christmas cards we have received we conduct a straw poll to identify our favorites.   This year (once again) we had a lot of good cards to choose from.  A special highlight this year was a 3D card that looked like a Poinsettia which we really enjoyed.

Christmas 2016

After a festive start to the holiday with Christmas in Song and dinner at the Weekapaug Inn with Mark and Jen, we headed to New Hampshire to celebrate Christmas and New Years. We arrived in the afternoon on Christmas Eve, and happy to find snow on the ground. We settled in for dinner with plans to celebrate Christmas with a XC ski outing.

Christmas at the chalet

Christmas Eve

We woke early on Christmas Day, opened our stockings and then headed for the trails at Jackson XC ski center.   While there was plenty of snow, rain earlier in the week had rendered it "boiler-plate ice" as Bruno likes to call it.  So our best option was the groomed trails in Jackson, and we were not disappointed!  We enjoyed an after-ski cocktail, lunch and then opening many gifts from friends and family.  Many thanks to all for your thoughtful gifts.  Per tradition, a photo of Bruno in his new Christmas socks.

The day after Christmas we woke early and headed to the trailhead of Mt Tremont, which is located in Bartlett and only a short drive from the chalet. Mt Tremont is on the 52 With a View list and we have been eager to explore this mountain.  While not a long hike, it offered a very sustained and steep climb.   The snow got deeper as we hiked, but managed to get to the summit in just boots as the trail was mostly packed.  The skies cleared as we arrived at the summit and we were rewarded with stunning views.  The trek back down required micro spikes to keep us on the trail. It was fun to be back on the trails in the winter after some great winter hiking in early 2016

A few days after Christmas Santa brought us about 8" of fresh snow which was nice to have on top of the old snow pack.  

Along with the snow came the Mitchell-Dignan clan.  We enjoyed showing them the back-country trails in Jackson. We also skied to the Shovel Handle Pub, one of our favorite spots, for a pint late in the day.  We arrived back at our cars just before the need for a headlamp.  It was great to have Denise, Mike and Audrey with us on the trail!

The fresh snow also gave us the chance to enjoy a day at Bretton Woods with fresh powder and some sunshine.  The view to Mt. Washington  is one of the rewards of spending time on the Bretton Woods trails. This day the views were limited, but we caught a few and enjoyed warm temperatures and decent New England packed powder.

As Christmas gift to each other we explored Fryeburg, ME and had dinner at the Oxford Inn.  The inn is located on Main Street only a short-distance from the famous fairgrounds.   The inn is warm and cozy, and the service was friendly and relaxed. The food was fantastic and we will definitely make a return visit.