Why Don't You
Experience a Campfire Cookout Under the Stars
Story by Dee Raffo
The snow crunches under your snowshoes as you weave your way through an old-growth forest. The moon lights your path, and the light of your headlamp makes the snow-laden trees sparkle. You look up at snowflakes gently falling through ancient branches, and there’s a paradoxical sense of peace and excitement as darkness descends, and the stars claim the night. As you turn back toward camp, you can see a fire glowing, hear the soothing strum of a guitar, and smell the sweetness of hot chocolate.
The Canadian Campfire Cookout is a new tour for Canadian Wilderness Adventures (CWA), a local company that has offered unique adventures in Whistler for more than 25 years. Based in the wilds of the Callaghan Valley, just a 20-minute drive south of Whistler Village, they know firsthand how magical the forest is when lit by the stars, so they launched a twilight snowshoe and dinner tour that revels in the night.
Adventurers meet at the CWA base and are fitted for snowshoes and a headlamp, and then a guide leads them on a short, serene journey in the surrounding forest. After returning to the base, each group has its campfire, and a hearty dinner that includes chili, smokies, s’mores, hot chocolate, and non-alcoholic spiced cider, while a guitarist sings by the light of the moon.“If you’re looking for a truly Canadian winter experience, the Canadian Campfire Cookout is it,” says Kristal Taylor, CWA director of sales and marketing. “After a peaceful snowshoe along the Medicine Trail, through an old-growth forest, you come together around your campfire to fill your belly, enjoy live music, and gaze up at the stars overhead.”
Tours run from 4:30 to 8 p.m., making it a perfect activity after a day on the slopes, and a casual dinner option. For couples, the mix of starlight, exploration, and fireside cuddles has a romantic edge, while for families, this is a one-of-a-kind experience that everyone can enjoy, one delicious, toasted marshmallow at a time. Visit canadianwilderness.com, or call their adventure desk at 604-938-1616.
Feel the Rush of Bobsleigh, Skeleton
Story by David Burke
The managing director of the fastest sliding track in the world says he’s confident that participating in the Whistler Sliding Centre’s public bobsleigh and skeleton programs this winter will “get your adrenaline pumping” — even in COVID times.
The track, which hosted the bobsleigh, skeleton and luge events during the 2010 Winter Olympics, had a busy fall despite restrictions on some activities. The Canadian national teams were training there for much longer than expected because officials decided not to send them to Europe for competitions until early 2021. Several provincial teams were also training on the Whistler track for fall and into winter, and this fall, the track teamed up with Olympian Joe Cecchini to host the “Snipers Skeleton Club” camps for aspiring young athletes.
“We’re super busy — probably the busiest we’ve ever been, actually,” said Tracy Seitz, the Sliding Centre’s managing director.
The public bobsleigh and skeleton programs, which will run on weekends when allowed under public health guidelines, offer guests the chance to experience the thrill of sliding on the lower two-thirds of the track, with maximum bobsleigh speeds of 125 km/h and skeleton speeds of up to 100 km/h. Masks must be worn during the introduction/orientation and helmet fitting. Bobsleigh rides are in four-person sleds with a pilot — two or three guests from the same “bubble” ride with just a pilot, while single participants will have to ride with at least one other guest. All participants wear balaclavas (provided), masks and gloves where necessary.
“We’ve established some pretty effective health and safety guidelines, and we encourage people to come in as a small group,” Seitz said.
Escape to A Wilderness Lodge
Story by David burke
Rustic yet refined, Journeyman Lodge is a great destination for snow lovers, set amid pristine sub-alpine splendour. A 14-kilometre journey on cross-country skis (or snowmobile shuttle, if you prefer) from the nearest driveable road, Journeyman offers a cozy wilderness getaway or the gateway to backcountry adventure — take your pick.
Callaghan Country Wilderness Adventures (CCWA) and Whistler Olympic Park (WOP) form a partnership known as Ski Callaghan, featuring cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. If WOP, which hosted the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, can be said to represent the front-country, ski-racing side of Nordic skiing, CCWA would be the more old-school, backcountry equivalent.
Visitors can reach the lodge via a groomed trail that winds uphill to Callaghan Lake Provincial Park and through the woods for the final 5 km to their destination. There, guests are treated to what the company calls “rustic-luxe” accommodation, fine dining and down-home hospitality. If you stay more than one night, you can explore more groomed trails near the lodge or venture out on backcountry gear onto any number of routes that are often laden with prodigious amounts of ungroomed snow.
Guests who arrive early at the base area can also reserve lunch at the lodge. However, because of COVID restrictions, both the capacity for lunch and overnight accommodation availability is limited this winter.
Those skiing into and out of the lodge in the same day should come fully prepared with food, water and sufficient clothing, said CCWA proprietor Brad Sills.
“I think we’re going to have participation way above normal. It’s just one of the few activities that people can feel comfortable doing (in COVID times), because once you’re out skiing, you’re relatively safe from transmission,” he said.
Take an Enchanted Nighttime Stroll
Story by David Burke
Vallea Lumina, billed as “a multi-media night walk in pursuit of hidden wonders,” is a terrific activity for the whole family, especially during COVID times.
“We’re super fortunate that the whole experience takes place outside,” said Jason Langlois, director of sales and marketing for The Adventure Group (TAG), which presents the approximately hour-long sound, light and storytelling adventure at its base area on Cougar Mountain, north of the Village.
“We’ve limited our capacity to around 40 per cent of our maximum so that everyone has lots of space to enjoy the show. You’re not shoulder to shoulder with other guests, and you [can] take it in comfortably.”
In various scenes depicted along the winding path through the trees, the story follows two hikers from long-ago, making their way through the forest. Along the way, they experience “cryptic radio transmissions” and other wonders that lead them to a trailhead, where they discover a path that “leads toward a place filled with beauty and proves that the legends of Whistler are true.”
Langlois said the show varies with the seasons. In winter, the course is a bit shorter and flatter than the summertime version, he said, making Vallea Lumina a great activity for those with varying levels of mobility.
For this season, instead of offering a shuttle service, guests must drive themselves to the venue and park in the newly expanded parking lot. Masks are required during the check-in and introduction, but aren’t required on course as long as physical distancing is maintained between groups, Langlois said.