The forecast for the night — especially if you like magnanimous mounds of powder (I do) — was promising. The app on my phone said 33 centimetres was in the cards. But, sleeping like bugs in a big furnace-warmed rug (that would be our cosy CanaDream RV, which was parked about 50 metres from the main lift at the Kimberley Alpine Resort), we never noticed the puke-job that transpired.
In fact, when I woke up with nary a noise for eight hours (except some snoring from the four grommets I had with me), I had no reason to believe that the a-pow-colypse had occurred. But then I opened the door of the RV and a giant glob of goodness slid off the roof and thumped down on my head. And I knew the Almighty had answered our pow-focused prayers. Again. Yes, when you’re embarking on a ski trip down the Kootenay Rockies’ Powder Highway — especially if you’ve rented an RV for the journey — some fresh snow is what you’re after. Or, better yet, a sizable snowfall that makes for great skiing. Or, in a perfect world, epic nightly dumps that make the locals all weird and run for their snorkels. I’m pretty sure I can’t credit “living right,” but, for some unbeknownst reason, it was the latter that played out on our Penner boys on The Powder Highway winter RV trip.
Winter RVing; crisp mountain air, blue skies and the freedom to follow the snow!
For most RVing enthusiasts — owners and renters alike — it’s the summer season that comes to mind for utilizing a rolling home. But, contrary to popular opinions, winter RVing is alive and well. And it comes with a number of noteworthy benefits.
For starters, unlike summer, when the traffic can be ridiculous, the roads are much quieter in winter. In other words, you’ve got room to “roll.” Other significant benefits are discounted prices at RV parks, no bugs, no crowds at popular attractions, and, of course, the surreal beauty that winter’s snow-draped scenes serve up around every bend in the road.
That said, RVing in winter does require some homework. Obviously, your “home” needs to be winter-ready. It’s critical your RV is equipped with a working furnace, insulation, and properly sealed doors, windows, and vents. Frozen pipes are no good! Thankfully, the professionals at CanaDream, one of Canada’s leading RV rental companies, provided an extremely clean, cosy, comfortable, winter-ready “home” that performed remarkably well during our snowy sojourn. Even though I’ve never driven an RV before — in any season! — it proved to be a breeze to handle.(Our model was the 28-foot Class C Maxi Motorhome, which has all of the comforts of home.)In spite of the chilly temperatures and the colossal amounts of snow, everything from the furnace to the sani-system functioned exceptionally well.
CanaDream's custom winter units are built to keep you warm in temperatures as low as -30 celsius.
After picking up the RV near CrossIron Mills and going through a 45-minute orientation, we loaded ‘er up with all the necessary equipment and provisions and hit the Powder Highway. And, yes, it didn’t take long to come to the conclusion that this was an appropriate name for this highway, which snakes through the Kootenay Rockies region and is home to over 75 ski operators, including eight alpine resorts.
With 15 centimetres of fresh stuff, Fernie didn’t disappoint on our first foray into “powderville.” For my four boys, all intermediate skiers and snowboarders, Fernie’s stunning alpine bowls were an eye opener to the steep and, definitely, deep. After floating through the fluff in Fernie — well, OK, there was some floundering involved as well — we set sail for the Kimberley Alpine Resort, where the best was yet to come.
With free RV parking at the base of the resort, the convenience factor in Kimberley could not be beat. Nor could the spaghetti balls at Pedal & Tap, one of Kimberley’s much-lauded new restaurants in the charming downtown Platzl area.(It was recently featured on an episode of the Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here.)
But, as good as the food scene has become in Kimberley (also check out The Shed, a downtown watering hole with plenty of character), the skiing at the Kimberley Alpine Resort definitely reached “You Gotta Ski Here” status as well. This was aided, of course, by 75 centimetres of fresh manna that fell in just 48 hours.
So, yes, for two days we hunkered down in the parking lot at the Kimberley Alpine Resort and skied our faces off. My oldest son and I hit the jackpot on Jackpot, a glorious black-diamond glade run off the Easter Chair that warranted numerous laps. And my younger boys found their happy place on the front-side where the easy groove of Stemwinder and the Minute Maid Kid’s Trails kept them honest in the merely thigh-deep stuff.
But, when it was all said and done, what really kept me honest was the realization that I was making memories with all my boys the Powder Highway. Not surprisingly, I also made a few “bonus” memories shovelling for an hour to get the RV out of the parking lot when it was, sniff sniff, time to go home.
Andrew Penner is a freelance writer and photographer based in Calgary. This story was originally published in The Calgary Herald on February 24, 2017. Thanks to Andrew Penner for permission to add this to our website blog. Andrew can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.