When a journey becomes the destination

T&C Eye Candy / Image by Matt Kuhn Photography courtesy Island Lake Lodge

Not long ago, someone I know announced that he loves everything about travel except, that is, travel itself.

I understand what he’s saying. Getting around on this planet isn’t always pleasant, especially when you’re stuck on a runway, squished like a sardine into an oxygen-deprived plane.

On the other hand, when the journey holds as much appeal as the destination, the story changes.

“Hop in!” our sunny-faced, toque-clad driver announces as my daughter and I climb into one of the most Canadian means of transport we’ve ever experienced.

Warm and secure in the confines of a fire-engine-red snow cat, we begin our climb towards the Lizard Mountain range in southeastern British Columbia.

Beaming, we crawl past towering cedar trees heavy with snow. Our vehicle, designed for terrain exactly like this, hugs the frozen earth as we go.

We’re en route through a temperate rainforest to Island Lake Lodge, located near Fernie and best known as a powder hound’s cat skiing dream operation.

But the lodge has also crafted a day trip option for guests (which is why we’re here) during winter.

“Soft adventurers” of all ages are invited to experience a snow cat ride, a hearty, flavourful lunch and, if it suits, a treatment at the onsite spa. (I can vouch for buttery soft robes and the sugar with coconut oil body scrub.)

Nordic skis and snowshoes are available, too, for guests inclined to explore surrounding trails.

My daughter and I have just wrapped up a thrilling but exhausting week of winter sports in the region, so we choose to remain indoors and enjoy the coziness of lodge life.

After lunch, we play chess by a crackling wood-burning fire. (The restaurant menu is constantly changing but at the time, we enjoy a melt-in-your-mouth osso buco.)

We also sit in the dining room by the window with our notebooks, where my daughter sketches a delightful, cartoonish moose, marking the occasion. And we bask in breath-catching vistas of the surrounding wilderness.

When it’s time to call it a day, the feeling is bittersweet. Leaving mountains behind is never easy. In this case, though, it isn’t over until it’s over.

Our trusty red snow cat swings by the lodge’s front door, we jump in and we’re off — back down the mountain and through an icy winter wonderland to the parking lot below.

Reflecting on this unique day trip, equal parts journey and destination, still brings a warm glow to my face.

—Kim Gray

 

Editor’s Note: This post was produced as the result of an arms-length collaboration with Island Lake Lodge. For more information about the lodge’s winter lunch invitation, which runs Dec 15 through April 2, click here or call the reservation line at 250.423.3700.

Founded by two Canucks on the loose in a big country, Toque & Canoe is a blog about Canadian travel culture.

 

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