Lighthouse Hall

Snow and Skiing in Bowser

Snow. Snow and more snow. And then some more snow. Wow, that was awesome! In my last note to you fine folks of Lighthouse Country, I mentioned something about much needed relaxation, and like clockwork, as I finally put down the computer for the holidays, it started to snow. Now, I may ruffle a few feathers on the stuck at home snowbirds out there, but who can deny the enjoyment of having a white Christmas.

The snow and cold winter nights completed the holiday relaxation package. Easy to find icicles for holiday drinks, the hue of Christmas lights animated by the white stuff, the muffled sounds of the outside world being closed in by centimeters of fluffy powder, it was all perfect. Even shoveling snow was relaxing. Try tuning into the monotonous tones of the shovel pushing snow as you find a rhythm that doesn’t stop until your driveway is clear. Follow this up with the hot cold treatment of soaking in the hot tub and rolling in the snow for that great full body spa like therapy.

Now that the work, er, relaxation is done, it’s time to get out and play in the snow!

For kids the sleds and shovels are pulled out of the shed, for some snowshoes, and for others cross country skis. I saw some evidence of cross-country skiing along the old E and N tracks. Nice work! And of course, the mind wanders to thoughts of Alpine skiing.

Now I’m probably the least qualified to talk to you about alpine skiing. You see, I was born and raised at sea level. Playing in the snow happened a couple of weeks a year and even in my early adult life if it snowed, I would still try to slip and slide my bike through the blanketed trails. I used to think of snow as a quick break from my normal day to day. But that changed. My wife is from the mountains and my kids were born in the hills too. We spent some time living at 1120m above sea level or roughly the same elevation as the midpoint between the base and peak of Mt Washington. Let’s just say that snow became a big part of my DNA. And along with multiple meters of snow on the ground for 6 months a year comes the joy of snow sport. That’s when I realized that skiing was awesome!

Fast forward a couple years, now living on the west coast, and harboring a healthy addiction for chairlifts, we find ourselves fleeing rainy dank weekends at home for the snow covered peaks of Mt Washington. Here You can access downhill skiing, snowboarding, and Nordic cross country skiing.

The mountain also offers snow shoeing, fat biking (yes, biking on snow with the help of balloon size tires) and snow tubing which is a blast. Outside the resort boundaries, is access to the alpine beauty of Strathcona Provincial Park.

Vancouver island has an interesting history with skiing and lift access operations. Currently we have two operational lift access mountains, Mt Washington in the Comox Valley and Mt Cain a little further north island outside of Woss. A quick google search shows that there were a few ski hills operating on Vancouver Island, all now “ghost” resorts with not much remaining, but never the less stamped into the physical landscape of the mountains along with a gps pin. Areas like Mt. Cokley off of Mt. Arrowsmith and Mt. Green outside of Nanaimo are areas still explored by hikers, back country skiers, and outdoor recreationalists. One of the more notable defunct ski hills was Forbidden Plateau just West of Courtenay. This ski hill with a bit of checkered past may have come to it’s demise because of a haunting legend of tribal war from centuries past. Or maybe it was because of a few bad snow seasons. I’ve attached a link to a website with the history. It’s a good read and best enjoyed paired with coffee while waiting for storms to clear.

Switching gears from mountain peaks to sea level recreation, I know a fair amount of us are working through January 2022 with some sort of recreation goals. I also know that we’re all up against a flurry of guidelines and rules keeping us out of indoor sport facilities. This paired with hampering weather has most likely made it difficult for some to get out on the trails. As the snow melts and the trails open up, I urge you to use caution. The heavy snow load has caused many a tree to fall blocking trails while some are getting hung up leaving overhead hazards. The RDN Parks and Trails department has an online reporting service for you to report any immediate dangers.

As for trail maintenance, Lighthouse Recreation will be organizing a few maintenance sessions in the spring. Send me an email if you have any trails spots you think need a little local love. And be sure to stay tuned to the Lighthouse Hall’s new website  Here lighthouse Recreation has its own dedicated section for everything recreation in our community. I look forward to seeing you on the trails, or the slopes!