This January I was feeling adventurous and wanted to give snowshoeing a try. I recently moved to Kamloops, BC for internship position as part of my engineering degree program, and luckily enough that has landed me just next door to the second largest ski area in BC, and the third largest in Canada. It’s going to be a good winter. With any luck, I’ll be skiing this weekend or next as well!
The drive to Sun Peaks is about an hour from Kamloops on reasonably good highway roads. Highway 5 North is particularly nice. After the turn off one can expect about 30 minutes of hilly two lane highway with some beautiful views. I saw a couple groups out ice fishing on Heffley Lake on my way up there. Unfortunately I was driving, so I couldn’t pull out the camera (but it was sure tempting).
I opted for a two hour tour with a guide that would take me to mid mountain (snowshoers aren’t allowed up there without a guide; the snowshoe trails are actually at the base of the mountain) for a two hour jaunt with apple cider and cookies to boot. The hike wasn’t particularly physically demanding, though snowshoes take some getting used to if you’ve never been on them before, particularly going down hills. I fell once or twice! The trick is to keep your weight to the back of your snowshoes and stamp hard on your heels when going downhill. Uphill is a little different – the best method there is to perch on your toes and climb the hill with the toe claws on the snowshoe.
There were some great views from mid mountain that I really enjoyed. Our guide was also great and full of interesting information about snowshoeing, where we were and the Sun Peaks community in general. I was surprised to learn there is a school right on the mountain for all ages which arranges the school week such that the students have all day Friday outside of the typical classroom environment. They take part in outdoor activities every friday all day, like skiing on the mountain right in their backyard. What a way to grow up! 😀
After the tour, I got myself on the actual snowshoe trails at the base of the mountain. They are well maintained and pretty well marked; despite being alone I didn’t feel particularly at risk. There were plenty of good folks on the trails, always passing by with a smile and a hello. Interior BC is full of very friendly people.