Discovering Luxury in the Backcountry

Mention an overnight stay in the BC Backcountry in January and many think of hardened mountaineers huddled inside a small lightweight tent in sleeping bags designed for Antarctic expeditions. This kind of scene from a North Face Steep Series advert leaves many a mere mortal weekend skier heading for the après bar comes dusk rather than a chilly night under canvas surrounded by a howling icy wind.

However, this does not have to be the case. There is another option for the aspirational overnight backcountry adventurer that involves a log burning fire, a 3 course dinner, a pool table and a warm cozy queen bed all served up at 4500 feet surrounded by a cauldron of mountain peaks. The solution for those that fear frost bite or being uncomfortable close to their friends is a night at the Journeymen Lodge in the Callaghan Valley.

Journeyman Lodge

The wooden Journeyman Lodge is situated in the Solitude Valley where the tree line meets the alpine all set against the backdrop of the impressive Solitude Glacier. The lodge boosts 8 bedrooms, a well maintained living room (including pool table), kitchen and dinning room. Despite the location, the lodge has all the amenities expected in a city hotel including hot showers, heating, electricity (hours are limited) and a constant supply of freshy made cookies!

 

The development of the lodge is a fascinating story of human vision, strength and perseverance. With no road access, local craftsman (living in tents) built the lodge using materials delivered by helicopter or snowcat between 1996 and 1998.

Getting There

Entry to the lodge is through the Callaghan Valley, which is located about an hour’s drive from North Vancouver on Highway 99. The lodge base facilities can be found in the Ski Callaghan car park (turn left at the junction with Whistler Olympic Park).

Check in is between 9am and 11.30am at the Ski Callaghan base where a luggage transfer is provided. The ski into the lodge is between 12.5 to 13.7km km depending on your desired route– a blue run or a black run (Wild Spirit). The later is shorter but involves the steepest pitch for a Nordic run in North America (average 11%). Just remember though it is all downhill on the way back as you claw back your 580m elevation gain!!

Activities

Once you are up in elevation, there are some gentle green cross country routes that take you around Conflict Lake. The highlights are some up front and personal views of Solitude Glacier. You can also take out the complimentary snowshoes and break your own trail!

For those that like to earn their turns (ski touring), the surrounding powdery alpine offers some fantastic skiing opportunities without the crowds found at the local ski resorts. The lodge contains a guide on suggested lines to ride.

With tired legs, the lodge boast a rustic wood fired sauna a short 5 minute walk from the front porch. The warm ambiance is complimented by the traditional glacial creek drip and /or snow bank body roll with refreshes both body and mind instantly!!

Dining & Entertainment

While weary backcountry campers are tucking into a can of half heated beans, the guests of Journeyman Lodge are served up a delicious tray of appetizers by the wood burning fire at 5.30 in the lounge.  This is followed up by a 3 course dinner served in the candle light dining room!

Post dinner entertainment is by way of good conversation with other guests, a pool table, cards or numerous board games. The lights go out at 10pm literally as the generator goes off to be replaced by lanterns!

Top Tips

  • If you plan to visit on a winter weekend, book well ahead at the lodge is a popular destination. There is currently much more availability midweek.
  • If you are just heading up for 1 night, it’s worth getting a sled transfer in so you can enjoy the pristine alpine cross country skiing and touring.
  • Bring swimwear for the sauna, torches for lights out and your own tipple (no liquor is sold on site).

What makes this lodge unique beyond the luxuries not usually found in the backcountry, is the friendliness of the staff. From Brad the owner, to Darcy who manages the base operations, everyone takes the time to make you feel welcome and answer any questions you have to make your trip as memorable as possible. A truly unique backcountry experience which we intend to make an annual trip!

TOP 5 FALL DAY HIKES IN BANFF NATIONAL PARK

With the leaves turning, temperatures cooling and the crowds dispersing, Fall is arguably the best time of year to hit the hiking trails before the deep freeze of a full on Canadian winter arrives. There is no more spectacular place to appreciate “WonderFall” hiking than in Banff National Park. Here are my 5 best day hikes and top tips to help you make the most of the last few weeks of the hiking season before the snow settles!

To read more, please check out https://blog.liveoutthere.com/out-there/top-5-fall-hikes-banff-national-park/

NEW TO CANADA – SUMMER SURVIVAL GUIDE

Six years ago I had just stepped off a plane from Blighty (the UK) and taken my first steps into the True North to begin my new life in Canada. The freezing wind and driving snow that I had been warned about were nowhere to be seen, which was surprising given I was in Calgary. It felt like summer, but being new to the country I was clueless how to make the most of my new home. For any of you out there facing such a dilemma, these are my insider tips on how to survive your first Canadian summer in style.

TOP 5 LONG WEEKEND ESCAPES FROM THE LOWER MAINLAND

The May long weekend getaway is a Canadian Institution, when holiday deprived Canucks load up their vehicles with as much stuff as possible and hit the road.

However, anyone who has lived in the Lower Mainland on Canada’s West Coast for at least one summer knows that the key to an enjoyable extended weekend break is long term planning! If you to wait to the week before, the campsites are full, the ferry reservation spots are gone and the hotel front desk can only provide a sympathetic ear rather than a room. Don’t be caught with your proverbial pants down – click here to find out my favourite 5 long weekend getaways to help you plan ahead!

THE STINKY GAMES – WINTER v MERINO

Canada is cold, eh?

To survive a winter in the True North you need a decent base layer. This winter season I decided to conduct a very scientific experiment and put the much-heralded merino wool base layer to the type of cutting edge test that Einstein would be proud of – how long can you wear it until you become a social embarrassment, who can own a table in a packed après bar at fifty paces?

My first task was to find a willing subject who I could closely observe. Fortunately, I remembered I have a husband who likes to cut corners when it comes to washing his winter gear!

I decided to test the Men’s Icebreaker bodyfit 260 merino layer with a series of strenuous winter activities to examine the famed wool’s odour resistant claims. I mean, have you ever smelt a wet sheep?

To find out how the winter test went, click here.

10 Signs you are an Outdoor Instaholic

So you like to post the odd photo online of your epic weekend shredding powder or dropping into some gnarly trail on your bike, but has your social sharing become obsessive? Do you go hiking and find yourself thinking “would that angle look good with a Valencia filter?” or “how long can I hold that pose on that cliff?” Do you now only see the great outdoors you used to love and enjoy through a 50mm lens or an iPhone 6 plus screen?

Here are 10 warnings signs that you may have crossed the line and become an Outdoor Instaholic.

Romantic Mushing in the Canadian Rockies

With Valentine’s Day still lingering in the air, there can be no more romantic way to spend a couple of hours than being tucked up with your loved one in a cozy sled while being whisked through the Canadian Rockies by your new Alaskan Husky friends. Dog sledding, officially known as mushing, is a fantastic way to enjoy the scenic Canadian Rockies, and is much more exciting than a table for two at your local Italian. To learn more, click here

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