Our Kootenay Mountain Culture along the Powder Highway

Our Kootenay Mountain Culture along the Powder Highway

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"Winter Warmth: Find it on BC’s Powder Highway"

Snow covers the playground, but the couple brushes off the seat of the swing. I watch as the little one, bundled in his pint-sized snowsuit, climbs up and shouts “Higher!” His dad complies, pushing him into the void.

To my right, another child impatiently stamps his poles into the snow, waiting for his mom to tighten the last strap on her snowshoe. Then there’s the couple that just cross-country skied past me, seemingly unaffected by the arctic air sailing off Kootenay Lake.

It’s -14ºC and we’re all playing outside.

Back in town, folks walk down Nelson’s Baker Street as if it were summer (albeit with a pair of thick leggings and winter boots). I stop into Backroads Brewing to see how their grand opening progress is coming since my last visit.

“Cold out there, isn’t it?” grins Tracey, co-owner of the brewery. “Good thing, too; it’s keeping our snow dry!”

And that’s just the way people look at winter around the Powder Highway. Positively. With cheeks brushed pink and smiles, never pausing in their momentum of pursuing the outdoors.

Though unusual, a number of our early season days at the local ski resort were pushing -20ºC. Anywhere else I’ve lived, the cold has kept smiles from faces. But at Whitewater Ski Resort — as I suspect I would have seen at each resort across the region during this cold snap — locals crowded the lodge, buckling boots for morning turns. The chairs were humming and from them, whoops — the vocal equivalent of a high-five — were hollered at skiers below.

Photo by Kari Medig at RED Mountain Resort

It was just like every other day we see up here: filled with stoke and eagerness to be outside.

I’ve circled this region, visiting Revelstoke, Golden, Fernie, Kaslo and Rossland during the winter and found one thing stays the same: The warmth of Kootenay culture doesn’t drop with winter’s temperatures.

Photo by Kari Medig at Panorama Mountain Resort

And why should it? Have you seen our Kootenay playground? In each of the four seasons, it’s dressed to the nines. To miss a day outside means missing new eye candy the mountains are featuring for that day only.

That kind of reward is addicting.

So out we go, exploring with friends, sharing the views and the snow, basking in the cold days as if we were skiing under the warmth of a spring sun. Those who join us in the revelry of this season bring home warm memories — which, during any time of the year, is just what Kootenay culture is known for.

Words by Gina Begin.  Cover shot courtesy of Gina Begin.

Gina Begin - 
Although she’s a Florida girl, exploration called her away after the final bell of her high school career. On a quest to reach the distant adventures of North America, she lived in her car, traveling to ski the backcountry of Alaska, sleep under the northern lights in the Yukon Territory, ice climb Colorado's frozen canyons, photograph Nova Scotia’s coves, backpack in southern US wildernesses and munch on sugared tamarindo in the jungles of Mexico. But after three years living on the road and seeing the many wonders this continent had to offer, she chose the place she knew would fit an explorer looking for a lifetime of wild wonder: British Columbia. Dual citizenship in hand, she settled along the Powder Highway in the Selkirks and is making her home between four walls and deeply wooded mountains.

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Tags: Canadian Rockies Columbia Mountains Explore Canada ExploreBC The Kootenays

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