This past week, we headed to Oahu to celebrate my best friend Mica's 30th birthday. We packed a lot of stuff in for a week -- everything from beach time, snorkeling, cliff jumping, a few secret hikes (thanks to my friend Michelle), a sunrise, a sunset cruise, a waterfall, and ate tons of good food...all with great friends and family.
Our good friends, Matt and Kate, finally got married this past weekend. These two were the initial inspiration for our extended time off to travel. After traveling for 9 months, they settled in a little town in Oregon called Bend. Most people haven't heard of Bend, but after visiting them three times over this past winter, I think we're hooked. We were told getting a house on the Deschutes River was a must, so we squeezed three couples into a little place right on the river. It was worth it. So we floated the river as a massive group, BBQ'd and brought back A/C sliders, jumped into Crater Lake, watched two amazing people get married and danced the night away.
With my upcoming birthday, I was having a hard time deciding how I wanted to celebrate my 30th. I wasn't sure if I wanted to do something big, something a little more low key, etc. In true fashion, we ended up doing a little bit of everything and most importantly, spending it with family and friends.
I decided to end the season with a bang the last time we were in Whistler. What’s bigger than heli-skiing? Heli-skiing in Alaska I guess? So I did some brief research and hit up my brother to see if he could get the time off and went ahead and booked it. Neither of us knew quite what to expect, with the only glimpses of Alaska being in ski movies we’d seen. Needless to say, the trip was well worth it and the skiing was some of the best we’d had all season, a perfect way to end the longest season I’ve ever skied.
It's officially beginning to be Spring. As we headed down south toward a weekend in the desert for Coachella, the snow conditions are beginning to fade.
We stopped for a few days in Bend, Oregon, again to hang with our friends, Matt and Kate. Mt. Bachelor has enough snow to likely last thru Memorial Day weekend. How sick is that? Matt was even telling us that they've opened the resort on July 4th for a day of skiing if the mountain allowed. So crazy!
So while the week wound down and temperatures spiked in Snowbird/Alta we decided that after flying to LA for our friend’s wedding we would drive 17 hours from Salt Lake City BACK to Whistler b/c a huge storm was rolling in. Well … it was totally worth it. We arrived super late that Monday morning after a 4 day storm, where the top of the mountain hadn’t been opened. Freshies on Glacier Express and the Blackcomb Glacier via Spanky’s Ladder and then Couloir Extreme. We were also able to meet up with some new friends from the UK, Australia and Japan via a connection thru my brother, Jason. Always good to meet new people and spend time on the slopes with them.
After driving straight home from Whistler, we took a few day break in SF, but pretty quickly headed back out with the aim to ski Tahoe for a week before heading to LA for a close friend’s wedding. After a day in Tahoe with pretty horrible conditions and a snow storm forecasted for UT, we decided to pack up and drive to UT for the week instead. It was definitely worth it. The snow at Snowbird/Alta was dramatically better than Tahoe. - Jonathan
So … while we were wandering around Canada, during the time when there should be exceptional snow … it was dumping down in CO and UT. Such is life when you planned too far ahead. So … finally we had no plans, but the storms were back and hitting the NW, so … back to Whistler/Blackcomb. There was less snow at the base this time back around, but more snow in the alpine. It was worth the drive back west. I love these two mountains. - Jonathan
We made a short stop in Panorama and did a lot of mountain friend tours. Basically, the "mountain friends" are mostly retired locals who show people around the mountain, taking us from one place to another. It's great to meet new people and find the best runs based on the snow conditions and time of day. Unfortunately, the snow wasn’t that amazing, but I could definitely see how this mountain would be a lot of fun during a big snowfall.
Would love to come back during a good snow year!
Sunshine Village and Lake Louise were on our Mountain Collective pass, so we decided to put together a trip ahead of time with my brother and his wife, Jason and Paula. We've never been out to Banff in the winter time, but I can now say that the Banff area is equally as beautiful in the winter as it is in the summer. This is an area that I would love to come back to with more time to explore.
Finally, a day off after nine straight days of skiing – perfectly timed for a short hike across the frozen Lake Louise (see it during the summer time here) and to go on a dog sled tour with Kingmik Dogsled Tours. The tour was a lot of fun and I think we will definitely try it again, maybe even try a multi-day expedition next time. We traveled 10 miles from Banff National Park to Yoho National Park through the Kicking Horse Pass at the Continental Divide.
Arriving in Revelstoke, we were praying for good snow with a day of CAT skiing with K3 Catskiing. Unfortunately, the night before, we received the dreaded call from K3, cancelling our day of CAT skiing due to spring conditions setting in, which is extremely abnormal for this time of year. Such is life and we had to settle in for resort skiing on the groomers. After three days of groomers we said "bye bye" to Revelstoke and pushed onto Big White, a new resort to all of us.
It’s always good to come back to Whistler/Blackcomb, especially since it’s included on the Mountain Collective pass. Sadly, this is one of the worst seasons on record for Whistler and much of the Pacific NorthWest. If you can’t have amazing snow, the next best thing is bluebird skies and unlimited visibility as far as the eye can see.
Friends and family met up with us here and a surprise last minute addition of Jeff and Sharon, who I haven’t skied with in ages! Always good to be in the mountains with close friends and family.
To start our US/Canada winter trip we decided to head north first. First stop, Bend to ski Mount Bachelor again. On our way, we passed Mount Shasta and stopped in on Crater Lake. Both extremely beautiful in the winter time, definite must sees! During our time in Bend we got to see Matt and Kate again and an old friend of Allie’s from LMU, Justin. We were also treated with some incredible sunsets while visiting. Unfortunately, no new snow, but this time we were actually able to ski the summit and could actually see the amazing view.
Until next time, next up we are meeting up with some good friends in Whistler for the weekend.
Not too long ago, Jonathan and I stumbled on a documentary called Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry – the documentary features a Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, “who uses social media and his art to inspire protests against the state, and suffers government persecution for his actions”. If you haven’t seen it, you should definitely watch it.
We had a 18 hour drive ahead of us from Vail back to the Bay Area. Halfway we stopped at Bonneville Salt Flats. It looked completely different than when we passed thru during the summer. The flats had filled with water from recent storms and the reflection was incredible. Definitely worth the stop.
Jonathan’s college friend, Carolyn, and her boyfriend, Nate, invited us out to ski with them and their friends in Vail for Martin Luther King weekend. We spent two days at Vail and checked out Beaver Creek for a day – definitely a fun couple of days. We rented a pretty awesome house and got in some good skiing and had good times with new friends!
On our way to Vail, we made a few more stops at a couple new resorts - Telluride and Aspen. Telluride was a really cute small ski town with one main road with shops and restaurants, surrounded by beautiful, snowy peaks. We found ourselves at the same Mexican restaurant called Esperanza’s two nights in a row – they honestly had some of the best carne asada we’ve tasted.
Aspen was our next stop and we stayed at a little apartment tucked away in the Snowmass area. We were really impressed with the yummy food we had both nights – recommended by a friend of a friend. Hops Culture and The White House Tavern are definite must-do’s!