Bottom Line... Visiting the Journeyman Lodge felt like visiting a good friend with a house that just happened to be nestled in the snowy mountains of the Callaghan Valley where we could ski right from the front door. This is a place where you are not just a customer, you are a guest in their home and are warmly invited by the hosts to enjoy the space as your own. A beautiful place to enjoy the backcountry without having to give up the little comforts like indoor plumbing and a warm place to sleep. Read More>>
It’s that time of year...winter. The kids are retreating to the comforts and warmth of the indoors but you want them all to go outdoors! If you are searching for a way for your family to connect with nature, have fun and burn off some energy; why not try snowshoeing? It is probably the easiest and cheapest way to have some family winter fun! Here are four things to consider when to introducing your family to the sport:
1) Clothing and Packs
You will want to dress everyone in layers. A good long underwear base coupled with snow pants and a nice shell is great for starters. Little ones will generate a lot of heat walking around, maybe even more than you since they will be putting in more effort. Finish the outfit with toques, mittens and snow boots. Remember that mittens will keep your little one’s hands warmer than gloves and they may need something more waterproof than you do as they are more susceptible to falling and may not be able to resist the urge to make snowballs. Everyone should carry a small backpack with a mid-layer such as a down jacket or a polar fleece for added warmth just in case anyone cools off or if you plan to stop for a winter picnic. Even small children can carry their own small nap-sack, be sure that the straps are padded in the shoulders and that the packs are nice and light. You can also include a spare pair of gloves, socks and a neck warmer in your day packs in case anyone gets too wet or cold. Also pack, sun glasses, sun screen, a snack and some water, especially if you plan to be out for an extended period.
2) Snowshoes and Poles
The big question with new sports is always: Should I buy or rent the gear? For the first time you may want to try snowshoe rentals which you can pick up at the Access Callaghan Ski Shop for $12. Children’s snowshoes are relatively inexpensive considering how long they last. They are also fairly small and easy to store and can be handed down from child to child. See brands such as GV, Atlas, MSR for snowshoes in kids sizes. Snowshoes in this class are often rated for 30-80 pounds, after that, your child will move to adult sizes. Shoes should support your child’s weight while donning winter clothes and carrying a small pack. They should have an easy to use strap-in-system and have crampons underfoot, to help provide grip on hills and ice. Alpine poles are not necessary, especially for smaller children, however if you are going for longer distances with older children, poles are recommended. They provide extra stability on ungroomed trails, up-hill and when carrying heaver packs. For preteens and teenagers, try adjustable poles that can grow with them.
3) Getting Started
As the saying goes... If you can walk, you can snowshoe. This is especially true for older children and adults, but for smaller children you may want to start off by playing a few games to set them up for success. Try waddling like a penguin, or making dinosaur tracks to get them walking in a wider stance. Also practice making U-turns, snowshoes are great for going forwards and sideways, but they can never go backwards. Other fun games to play include classics like Simon Says and Red-Light-Green-Light. Or you can get really creative and try playing Charades, instead of drawing with paper and pencil; you can have your child draw out different shapes with their tracks. Try easy shapes like circles, hearts and houses to start and have someone else guess what the shape is. Another popular activity with children is a good old fashioned scavenger hunt. For a pre-made printable winter scavenger hunt list click here.
4) Where and When
Location and timing are two of the most important decisions you will make to dictate the level of enjoyment had by all. Try to avoid any bad weather; no one likes being exposed to wind, sleet or rain and this goes double for children. Here on the West Coast one of the most popular reasons to participate in snow sports is to take a break from the rainy city and recharge up in the frosted alpine. You will also want to choose easy hikes to start. A nice introductory snowshoe trail is the Wetland Wanderer which starts right at Callaghan Country's Alexander Falls Base Touring Centre. Its a short green (easy) trail and stays close to the base, so you can rest assure that you won’t be very far from your vehicle if things go awry. Once everyone is comfortable with their skills, you can embark on a more challenging winter family adventures! For kids ages 10 and older, get them excited by visiting Alexander Falls! This is a truly spectacular trail with a tall frozen waterfall and the end.
A stay at Journeyman Lodge is one where you are able to just relax and enjoy yourself. Everything is all-inclusive meaning that the only thing that you need to worry about is what to do next. There is so much terrain that you will be spoiled for choice. To top it all off, you can dine on fantastic meals that are cooked to perfection.
It is your holiday and you can truly do what you want to. If you want to relax and not do anything, you are more than welcome to remain in and around the lodge and are able to enjoy the many features that are available. You may choose to have a holiday where there is a mixture of relaxing and activities. Whatever you choose, you can decide on what you want out of your stay. Read More >>
There's at least one of those friends in every group. If you've seen that Portlandia episode "Gotta get the gear", you'll know EXACTLY what we're referring to. Gear heads, gear junkies, outdoor gear nerds... we're not sure which title they prefer more. If one of these individuals is on your Christmas list and you haven't already braved the crowds to seek out the most perfect gift, we have you covered!
#1 - SPOT Connect
Let the crisp cold mountain air fill your lungs, let the snowshoes/skis on your feet carry you over the deep snow through majestic old-growth forest and let yourself & your family indulge in the coziness of the Journeyman Lodge.
Happy Holidays to all of our Family!
At the beginning of each season, while season pass holders and day users patiently wait for the surrounding Nordic facilities to open their respective trail networks, the team at Callaghan Country prep for another shovel marathon. Although some seasons are easier than others due to a larger initial snowfall or a better settled snow pack, all trails must be broken in. All facilities deal with this at the beginning of each season, but small organizations like ourselves can find this time of year particularly labour intensive...nearby wildlife is likely to pick up on some grunting and cursing in the woods!
In general, Callaghan Country has two types of trails, ones with a dirt road base, and ones without. In the summer-time, some are obviously roads, while others are just a cut right of way through the woods. For example, both Mainline and Real life/Wild Spirit are road based trails, whereas Parkway, Lost Crew, Conflict Lake, Ring, and Solitude are simply cleared right of ways. Here's where our work gets tricky...right of way trails still have large boulders, water features and wood debris on the ground underneath the snow, resulting in significantly more shoveling to get the trails to a stability that the snowcat can drop its tiller safely and groom through. While road based trails are fairly simple to break in (only requiring a few passes of the snowmobile to pack the snow down), non road based trails are extremely...let me say it again, EXTREMELY labour intensive. In particular, Parkway, the portion of trail that connects Mainline at Callaghan Lake to Wild Spirit requires an enormous amount of attention.
As our summer visitors would know, Parkway has some fairly abrupt features, such as; large river crossings, large boulders, narrow pathways, as well as many sharp corners and dips. In addition, the dense forest canopy through Parkway limits the volume of snow that reaches the ground, resulting in less material to work with. Initially, Parkway requires the trail crew to snowshoe the entire trail, making at least four passes side by side. The purpose of this is to start the packing process, and give the trail crew a solidified path of snow to focus the build on. In the past the crew would attempt to get a snowmobile through immediately but, clever folks that we are, have learned the added step of snowshoe stomping is a more effective use of time in the long run. Once snowshoed several times over, the crew will attempt to get a snowmobile through. This task usually proves to be far more technical than just driving through...remember those abrupt terrain features? The snowmobile has a tendency to break through to the vegetated portion of the snowpack, which is generally unconsolidated early season. This makes it easy to spin the snowmobile’s track...a seemingly simple task ends up taking the better half a day (essentially we all become Charlie Brown on these days...good grief!). Once the initial sled pass occurs, the team will try to widen the trail with more sled passes, which usually results in a sled breaking through a creek crossing or some other feature, again resulting in a potentially lengthy removal (no more Charlie Brown here...it's all The Incredible Hulk now). With the added energy of 'Hulk Aggression', we eventually find success!
Now, the crew can focus on terrain features still poking through the snow...mainly, stumps and rocks. These features must be buried or ramped so the snowcat’s tiller and/or track does not snag them, potentially costing thousands of dollars in damage...yikes! In addition, the trail’s dips and sharp turns are smoothed out by shovel. Uneven ground and ‘swivelling’ can cause the snowcat to throw a track, resulting in 'yet another' loss of one or more day's work (and this stuff is specialized...we like to call it 'in-the-field snowcat repair'). Next up, all bridge decks must have consolidated snow on both their approach and departure to reduce the chance of the snowcat sliding off the edge of the bridge. At this point, the trail has likely been open for several days, if not weeks, when snowfall has not been persistent. Although the crew will have dragged a snowmobile roller through, the trail may still have too many protrusions to risk the snowcat’s beloved tiller. It is only once enough snow has fallen on the precisely sculpted trail bed that a snowcat can eventually get through the narrow trail. Up to this point, all trail work and upkeep (shovel grooming) has been done by hand...our hands. Even once the Piston Bully100, Callaghan Country’s ‘small’ snowcat gets through, shoveling may persist to keep many of the stumps and boulders under the snow's surface. Moreover, once the small snowcat has gotten through several times, the trail crew switches their focus to getting the Piston Bully300, a much wider snowcat through. Depending on the season and how deep the snowpack is, the trail network’s upgrading is constant, and fingers X'd, can be carried out by the snowcats alone.
Now, during those 'dark days' more commonly known as shallow snow pack years, like the one BC's Coast experienced in the winter of 2014/15, we are constantly shovelling to allow the snowcat’s safe passage. In addition, extreme events like heavy rainfall and flooding can easily destroy the trail over night (sigh!). Many of the creeks in the region swell beyond their drainage capacity, resulting in overflow, which not only takes the snow with it, but in some instances significant portions of the road as well. Although these events can be both dangerous and frustrating - with enough shovelling, the trail crew can make anything work, and the trail should reopen within a few days at the most...that is our magic!
So what is the point of all this work? Essentially, the purpose is:
Although this level of labour is difficult to balance with a small staff, it is essential to the operation of Callaghan Country, and our team is 'deep-down' happy to carry it out...after all, Callaghan Country did not get to where it is today without...a labour of love.
Soul. Wilderness. These words hint at a common thread; the truth our human condition aches for. Those of us who are lucky enough to play in the mountains sense this truth, but it is so deeply entrenched, it sometimes has to be pointed out to us...this stuff is profound. In their new book "Soul of Wilderness" John Baldwin and Linda Bily achieve a solid punch of recognition at this profundity.
John and Linda have been to Journeyman Lodge many times over the years and we were more than honoured when they decided to formally tie the knot at our venue. This remarkable duo are launching their book in Squamish and Whistler this week, giving presentations:
Thursday,Nov.19 - Squamish Public Library. 6:30pm 37907 Second Avenue, SQUAMISH
Friday, Nov.20 - Whistler Arts Council. 7:00pm at Millenium Place, WHISTLER $10.00 fee
It kinda goes without saying, but...if you're in our neck of the woods, we think you should attend ;)
Earlier this week, they appeared on the Global News - morning addition to promote the book. Give the video below a gander for summary in their own words along with a sneak peak at the artful photography inside.
Here's our Thanksgiving Ode from, Karen, one of Callaghan Country's biggest fans on cross country skis. It's her 12 Months of Callaghan Country pictorial that she's gathered over her multiple seasons of fan-hood. There's plenty to be thankful for; let's start with October...
We are super stoked to announce our new lodge hosts for the 2015/16 Winter Season...
Introducing, Ryan Malcolm & Rebecca Luscombe!
From the mountains of Costa Rica to the wilderness of British Columbia; this duo share our love of beckoning landscapes, authentic pursuits and the value of genuine hospitality. They are an exciting addition to the Callaghan Country team and oh, the stories they can tell...
Ryan started working at his parent’s fine dining restaurant - A Bit of Nostalgia in Kingston Ontario - at a young age, taking on the role of waiter, bartender, and FOH manager for over 15 years as well as entertaining by singing with his father and brothers. In 2004 Ryan won Canadian Idol, after which he released a solo album and toured the world (that's right, he snags celebrity status). A few years later Ryan started his band Low Level Flight. They released two albums and toured Canada, Europe and Asia.
Rebecca attended York University’s Glendon College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts. During this time she developed a keen interest in the food & beverage industry, cultivating her skills at various cafes and restaurants in Toronto, Ontario as a barista, as a waitress, and most flavourfully, as a cook. Her proudest tenures include a couple of Toronto’s top independent cafes - Riverdale Perk, and Les Louises Fine Foods.
The couple were introduced by mutual friends at a Broken Social Scene concert in Toronto and they've been together ever since, diving into life's adventures with full vigour. Their most recent adventure led them to the remote mountain village of El Castillo, Costa Rica to open Tres Cabras Restaurante as a joint effort with Nepenthe Bed & Breakfast. Here, Ryan ran the front of house, always greeting guests like they were old friends, making people feel at home and often singing for them (how cool is that?!). Rebecca managed the kitchen, planning nightly menus with the finest locally sourced ingredients to carefully create beautiful dishes that received grand reviews (can't wait to taste some of her exquisite soups!).
For their next adventure, Ryan and Rebecca will be calling Journeyman Lodge home and joining the Callaghan Country crew for an ultimate Canadian winter in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia. If you haven't already made plans to partake in an overnight adventure at Journeyman this winter, do it! You can also make a day trip of it and visit them for lunch in the alpine or partake in one of Callaghan Country's social ski events. What a great winter it is going to be!
Lovely hike review from Dog Blog, Led Astray...
A couple of weeks ago, I finally took a much needed (and long overdue) adventure to British Columbia, Canada – for the very first time. I have been calling Toronto my home-base for a year and a half again now (since returning from living in Costa Rica) and have been feeling very landlocked and trapped by this urban jungle as a result. The mountains were beckoning and I had to listen to their call. Read More>>
Life is hectic and friendships are invaluable. Let's be honest, taking lead on planning a ski vacation with your friends can be intimidating and seem full of insipid hassles. But really, bonding + shenanigans in the mountains = THE GOOD STUFF, so go ahead, put on your captain's hat and take helm of the good-ship, friendship...someone needs to do it.
You decide on the general Where & When.
That's the luxury of spearheading a ski vacation...it's your baby! Get a clear picture of the kind of memories you're setting out to forge and the skill level required to pull it off...lift access, self-propelled backcountry adventure, or maybe even heli-ski? Think skiing off-piste steeps, jabbing through glades and hucking powder bumps vs. cruising corduroy and kicking back in a bustling apres lounge. Pick a general mountain range or ski town and do some research into the typical weather and visitation patterns. That tiny bit of research can make a colossal difference. I'll never forget my buddy who planned his bachelor party in Whistler during Pride week...not quite the ambience he was shooting for. I've also attended a gay bachelor party during Pride time...clearly well-executed. Weather patterns may not be as cut and dry, but you can get a good sense of the general trends from looking back at previous season social media feeds. Are the Instagram posts from April still full of pow glory? (at Journeyman Lodge, that would be a heck ya!).
Round up the crew.
Define the group...would these be friends from the highschool or college era? Would it be a posse that's bonded over outdoor pursuits? Hey, some of us even like the people we work with. At any rate, pitch the idea and feel out the response. Are spouses/partners joining? This can be a bit of a double edged sword; if our mates are a natural part of the crew, the social dynamic is likely to flow with ease and the beefier head count can help snag some nice group savings. On the other hand, a not-so-familiar partner may find themselves particularly insecure among your peeps and as a result, reliably crusty and withholding. We've all experienced this dark cloud at one point or another, and its a familiar buzz-kill that's easy to avoid when simple group limits have been announced, "Sorry, muffin. We've storied this trip for ages and now we're gonna make it happen. No spouses."
Crunch the numbers. Make a plan.
How much is everyone willing to spend? Be thoughtful not to stretch that friend who's only working part-time or still paying off a massive debt. Friendships can cross financial boundaries. If some buds are hell-bent on upping the ante on 'rich' experiences, would your group consider a proportional to income approach to the the budget? Keep the budget in mind as you work out an ideal itinerary and be sure to maintain your priorities...the ski days. Reference and tally all the costs associated with your itinerary and confirm it's a go with the crew.
Take the money & Lock it in
In taking reservations I know, first hand, you should get your friends to fork it over before booking anything. It's nice to think that your peeps would be the last leave you hanging but, realistically, until that cash is in your hand...it's a recipe for friendship disaster. You're going to see way more deals if you pre-book and purchase major trip elements with a credit card; as the trip organizer, that's likely going to be your credit card (think: flights, accommodations, gear rentals, tickets). At this stage, be sure to seek out group discounts. Many tourism operators are happy to offer some sort of deal when you are bringing more than a few people to their point of commerce. Sometimes this is obvious and already laid out; usually, its in the cards if you've got the gumption to ask, "Since I'm booking this as one hefty transaction, can you offer me a better rate?". Seriously consider trip cancellation and medical insurance. Print, save, and prepare everything as it happens.
Communicate! Experiences come with expectations, be sure to manage them
Hopefully you've already read the fine print, but make sure everyone else knows about that stuff too. It's amazing how commonplace assumptions can be, and they sure have an affinity to make things awkward. Are you anticipating a scenario where gratuities might be in order? Are rentals going to be available on at the mountain or in the village? Do you have vegan bud? There's an obvious vibe when everyone's on the same page and it's up to you to ensure it's a positive one.
So, now you have the steps. Make it happen. Turns out the drive to share our experiences with each other is innate and with the proper execution, your ski vacation can deliver moments that will seem to matter more. Escaping to the mountains with our peeps makes for the best kind of bonding. Get to it. Forge those golden memories.
The passionate staff at Callaghan Country that not only want you to enjoy the snow, but want you to love the history and the stories that make Callaghan Country so special. ENJOY OUR BLOG!