As the world closed in around us, the reality of what we were facing set in. We welcomed what would be our final group on March 16th and moved them off the mountain on the 18th; and within 72 hours went from full operations to fully shut down. After a final day of laughs and tears on the mountain with our staff, Megan and I found ourselves at the lodge with our two offspring plus one, and two hounds – alone in a massive lodge with walk-in fridge and freezer packed with food for our last three tours of guests, a fully stocked bar, 4 snowcats, a fleet of sleds and 12,000 acres of untracked pow at our disposal. What’s a hard core ski family to do…?
As the rest of the country self-isolated at home barely able to stick their collective noses outside, we had a smorgasbord of daily activities to choose from including cat assisted ski touring, snowmobiling, cat driving lessons, tobogganing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and any combination of the above. The only caveat being a big dose of caution given the warnings not to overwhelm the healthcare system – no avalanche terrain, no super tight trees, and no unnecessary risk.
As March stretched into mid-April, we awoke to regular dumps of new snow, the largest being 45 cms. On that morning as we made our way up to Rolling Thunder, my limited driving skills were put to the test. But with panache that would make any of our drivers proud, I pawed my way through titanic drifts arriving at our destination, Bucket List, named in honour of a gone-too-soon friend, and spent an epic day ski touring.
Evenings at the lodge were never dull. In addition to the fully stocked iso-bar, we busied ourselves playing Covid Crud, pool, shuffleboard, ping pong, cards and board games. We even built a 9-hole lodge golf course and played the first, and hopefully last, Tournament of Champions Covid Open.
By month’s end evidence of our resident grizzly family around the lodge made outdoor fun a little less carefree. We left the sanctuary of our snowbound Shangri-La feeling forever grateful for our time together and the respite from the rest of the world.