Bound for the Backcountry

Photos by Kendall Kaminski

Last Christmas, my boyfriend Kendall and I started our ski trip with a visit to the Clarke family cabin in Sun Valley, Idaho, a treasure in Terri Kaminski’s family for generations. Visits there are always filled with magic. Time does not exist, and it feels easier to act upon your heart’s desires. If you are drawn to the snow, then gear up and head for Baker Creek on the snowmobiles. If you want to be cozy in the cabin, then make a fire, and your main activity is listening to its roar, cracks, and pops.

This was the perfect environment to prepare our bodies and minds for the month ahead. We skied Bald Mountain (Baldy) on Christmas Day with great snow! Fran and Taylor (local family) were wonderful guides around their home mountain. Per usual, the first stop always involves working out the snowmobiles’ kinks. For tradition’s sake, Kendall and I celebrated our anniversary at Grumpy’s with burgers and beers.

Second stop on the tour: Boise, Idaho, where we skied at Bogus Basin for some night powder (headlamps recommended). This was both surreal and bizarre, as it was a half-hour drive from the city on an incredibly long, winding road, and when we arrived at the brightly lit resort, it suddenly felt like early morning (though it was actually close to 9:00 pm). Snowmobiling wasn’t an option at this location because, unfortunately, law enforcement frowns upon driving these in the streets.

A quick drive north landed us in Bellingham, Washington. Our friends opened their home on Lake Whatcom to us, where we made lots of meals together, enjoyed their hot tub on the deck, and celebrated New Year's Eve. We skied legendary Mount Baker and snowmobiled in the surrounding wilderness. We drove through forests, built jumps, snowshoed around, and in the dark, I drove the snowmobile as the rest of the crew skied the twelve miles back to the truck.

We crossed the border into Canada, bound for Whistler, BC. Through the friends-of-friends network, we arrived at a packed house full of locals. They were warmly welcoming and made us feel at home instantly. After a morning of skiing around Whistler, we took the peak-to-peak over to Blackcomb, where we spent the rest of the afternoon. Kendall and Zach took our hosts out snowmobiling to say thank you. Later, we went to “Swedish Apres” at the Cinnabear bar and danced in our ski gear to live music. The last full day there, I went out with new friends to Brandywine Falls, which was a partly frozen, absolutely gorgeous waterfall.

Through the Canadian Rockies, we ventured from Whistler to Revelstoke, BC, where we checked into the Big Shreddy B&B. Day one, Kendall fulfilled his lifelong dream of snowmobiling in this monstrous region. We snowmobiled as far out as we could, accompanied by many other snowmobilers, happened upon a wooden ski hut, and took turns shuttling each other to the top of a mountain for fresh powder laps. It was absolutely frigid, with lows of zero degrees Fahrenheit.

We made our way from Canada, back into Washington, over to Idaho, and returned home to Nevada, broke and happy. We did not want our travels to end, yet were so grateful and proud for completing such an epic ski trip.