As I open the door exiting the sauna, a chorus of laughter and cheers echoes down the hallway from the slideshow taking place in the den. In an instant I feel at home again. In a year of chaos, this simple sound of joy feels wildly comforting. More than that, joining these celebrations, watching the images of blower powder set to a symphony of applause and laughter feels like the breath of fresh air I’ve been waiting for since this pandemic began. It feels so dang good.
As a ski guide, it’s been a wild year for our industry. Our team is one of the lucky ones who’ve had the privilege of returning to our mountain home this past winter. Megan and Paul had the foresight to be trailblazers. They were the first within Heli Cat Canada to adapt, create and commit to a Canadian-only season, embracing the times while knowing just how hard a pill this would be to swallow for our American guests (read: our American family) who would be unable to cross the border to visit their snowy happy place in the Selkirk mountains. In a season where the majority of guides had not a day of work, Selkirk Snowcat Skiing operated a full season, our COVID-19 Safety Plan passing WorkSafe inspection with flying colours thanks to the tireless work of our entire staff.
Frankly, it felt like an honour to sit at our guides’ table each day, all of us so grateful to do the work we are so passionate about. It’s just skiing, but skiing to us is really everything. Sitting in my seat at the back of the cat, I found myself smiling to be in a place so few would experience this year. Looking back our team celebrates every snowy turn enjoyed by our new guests this season, Canadians who may never have had the opportunity to experience the magic of Selkirk due to normally sold-out seasons. But deeper than this we celebrate that what we gave to our guests, more than anything else, was a moment of normalcy in a year devoid of it; a place to celebrate and play in the winter wilderness, cherished time with friends and family and a safe place to enjoy living life to its fullest.
Thanks to our staff and guests taking our new COVID-19 protocols and screenings exceptionally seriously, we were all granted the ability to kick back a little more. In the face of great challenge, we adapted; some experiences are worth wearing masks in the back of the cat or using tongs to serve sandwiches outside (thanks to our cat drivers for bonfires during chilly lunchtimes) or using hand sanitizer what felt like every five minutes. This season we thrived, we laughed, we skied our little hearts out. It was a winter so special it granted me, and all of us, a rather large dose of perspective, for how lucky were we to have been home on Meadow Mountain.
Morgan Dinsdale, is a freelance journalist, athlete, Holistic Sports Nutritionist (R.H.N), and a CSGA Ski Guide. She now lives in Nelson, BC and calls Selkirk Snowcat Skiing her winter home.