Winter

#FindingAwesome Winter Winners

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#FindingAwesome Winter Winners

Wow, I can't believe we have been #FindingAwesome for a whole year already!! A HUGE shout out and thank you to everyone who has shared their photos and videos with us. The winter contest was bigger and better than ever with over 2400 photo and 160 videos!! It was a hard choice but here are our winners...

Video Winner

Adventure Photo Winner

Chill Photo Winner

Honourable Mentions

April Patron

Shout out to @aprilpatron, she had two AWESOME entries! April, you'll be getting a gift certificate to a local business and thanks for sharing your beautiful content!

Favourite Business Entries

Another honourable mention goes to Selkirk Snowcat Skiing for our favourite business entries with these two awesome posts!

Thanks again to everyone who entered. We look forward to seeing more of your #FindingAwesome posts!

Ski, Eat, Repeat...and Write

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Ski, Eat, Repeat...and Write

By John Bowden   |   Photos Larry Turner

Ever wonder what it’s like being a travel writer? Visiting charming mountain towns, skiing fresh lines, and writing about it might just sound like the best job in the world. For many writers, and specifically a group of North American ski journalists, they lived the dream in Nelson in early 2018.

Nelson and Kootenay Lake Tourism, Whitewater Ski Resort and local partners hosted the annual gathering of the North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA) this past January. Approximately twenty travel writers from all corners of the USA discovered Nelson’s well-earned ski town reputation for themselves.

Sking powder in the trees at Whitewater Ski Resort.

Ullr and the rest of the snow gods put on a good snow show, while Nelson’s thriving culinary scene gave the writers plenty of fodder. The group enjoyed a guided tour of Whitewater to sample some of the powder stashes in the local know. Back in town, the journalists capped off the day with locally brewed craft ales and a “dine-around” to some of Nelson’s most popular eateries.

But beyond the snow, what are journalists looking for when crafting an article? “I’m looking for what’s available for the adventure traveller. Recreation, adventure, lodging, food, amenities, topography and the people are important”, noted photojournalist Larry Turner. “I also like to seek out something out of the ordinary, like an invite to a squash match in Nelson.”

 

A ski trip to Nelson also offers the opportunity for writers to explore a little further afield. A visit to Ainsworth Hot Springs and Kaslo were among the highlights for Turner, who spent the better part of a week getting a pulse on the region.

Ainsworth Hot Springs on a sunny winter day. Kaslo heritage building 

Writer Tina Lassen noted that travel writing has changed enormously in the past couple of decades. “25 years ago, you didn’t even tell anyone when you were in town. You had an expense account and experienced it as a regular visitor.” Nowadays, with little budget for travel stories, journalists and destinations work together to organize “fam” (familiarization) tours to experience a place firsthand.

These media trips are invaluable resources, as it allows writers to impart useful and accurate information to readers. Timelines for stories have also changed. “There used to be longer lead times in the past, usually a year in advance. You had to ski the season before to write about it the following year. Now, I’ll get a call in July for a ski story in November.” Visiting Nelson in peak ski season gives these writers an arsenal of memories to draw from for future articles.

For writers like Turner and Lassen, experiencing the distinctiveness of Nelson’s dining and entertainment scene, heritage character and fabulous ski conditions with their peers is a rare treat. Finding a way to spin their own tales to readers across the continent is the work and the reward.

For all traveller enthusiasts, writing a story and sharing with us is one way to get our attention, or post your images to instagram or our facebook page and use #findingawesome.

Valentines Day In Nelson & Kootenay Lake

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Valentines Day In Nelson & Kootenay Lake

Valentine's Day in our region has no shortage of romantic options. We have the food, activities, accommodations, and romantic locations to make the day a special celebration of love and friendships.

Adventure

Head to Whitewater Ski Resort and cozy up on the double Silver King or go for a quiet snowshoe on one of the multi-use trails. Nelson Nordic Ski Club will be hosting their 16th annual Valentine's Ski on Feb 14th from 6-9pm. There will be live music, hot apple cider, and wish lanterns given out at 7:30pm. 

Indulge

Let's be honest, one of the most important things about Valentine's Day is no one having to do the dishes! So head to Baker Street, Balfour Ferry Landing, Ainsworth Hot Springs, or downtown Kaslo for a romantic dinner at one of our many restaurants. Some of our favourite romantic, intimate dinner places are: Falls Music Lounge, Taqueria el Corazon, Library Lounge, Louie's Lounge or All Seasons Cafe. 

Wellness

Visit one of our spas for a couple's massage or treat your sweetie to something special. Just 15 minutes from Kaslo or Balfour, and 40 minutes from Nelson, a visit to the world-famous Ainsworth Hot Springs and dinner at the Ktunaxa Grill is the perfect recipe for a romantic evening.

Avalanche Safety Training

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Avalanche Safety Training

Story and photos by: LaRae Vig originally posted on laraevig.wixsite.com

Growing up I was fortunate to have a remarkable ski hill, Powder King Mountain Resort, in close proximity to me. Not only does the name live up to itself, but it truly introduced me to my love and passion for the outdoors, especially winter. Coming into the weekend, I’d always be checking the forecast and looking for the next epic pow day! I loved hitting the slopes and looking for the next fresh, untouched line. We were spoiled there and didn’t really have to work too hard for it. We would just dip in on the backside, do a cabin run and sled back or drop into one of the many out-of-bounds areas. It always blew my mind that there were so many untouched areas. My thought exactly, “How has no one hit this yet?” and so I dropped in.

LaRae Vig and her snowboard

It wasn’t until I moved to Nelson last year that I really decided to further my outdoor knowledge and education and really dive deeper into the backcountry. I made the decision that the most obvious start was AST1, so on the weekend of December 9 & 10, 2017 I completed my AST1 with Kootenay Backcountry Guides

The knowledge and information gained during this two-day course had me captivated the entire time. I remember constantly telling myself to breathe, while watching the learning videos in the classroom day 1, as people were buried in actual life and death situations.  Watching their friends thinking, “Come on! Hurry up! Get your shovel out! You don’t have a beacon? Are you kidding me?!” So many thoughts rushed through my mind when watching these videos about how I would respond and why. Was I ever quick to judge…

On day 2 it really hit me how many times things could have gone wrong in the past. Touring up with the group and learning about different avalanche patterns, an on-site look at how to read the trees affected by avalanches, learning about different avalanche conditions from regional danger rating, to signs of instability and persistent or slab avalanche problems. Learning about digging a snow pit and about all of the different storm layers, the strength of old snow layers, surface hoar and the impact of recent weather on snow stability. Tying that in with the different terrain characteristics really gets you thinking and looking at the mountain entirely differently with much more caution and wisdom.

It wasn’t until we started doing the companion rescue that it really put things into perspective. In one burial situation, which I was the designated leader, there were 4 burials. Even though you know that it is just a training scenario, your heart beats, you panic, you don’t make logical decisions. Everything doesn’t go as straight forward as when watching the video, judging the others for their poor decisions or how long it takes to get your beacons out, shovels put together, locating the body, probing etc. These skills take practice and through AST1, I was able to connect with many other like-minded individuals that take the backcountry and their life seriously. We have organized and, will organize many more companion rescue training days to practice these skills.

I remember coming out of the course feeling so humbled and truly counting my blessings that something previously hadn’t gone wrong. Thinking back on many personal situations when I was uncomfortable or had a gut instinct that maybe we shouldn’t be there or, as a female out riding with the ‘boys’, when to trust in myself and to speak up.  That one comment could ultimately be the difference between an avalanche or, even worse, a life and death situation. After learning the skills that I have with AST1, it has given me so much more knowledge and confidence to assess these situations with a larger understanding about this winter wonderland I love so much.  It has pushed me to want to be a better rider and to also to be more mindful of the people I choose to go out riding with.

Two people going up the skin track in the Whitewater backcountry.

Coming out of this course, I had one thing on my mind - You now know enough to know you don’t know enough. Thus, I signed up for Kootenay Backcountry Guides MAT (Managing Avalanche Terrain) certification.

The MAT course combined so much of the knowledge gained in AST1 and put it to use immediately touring in the Kootenay Pass.  Right from the start I was reading the snow, feeling the snow and constantly checking it along the tour up. The first ascend up Cornice Ridge was an extremely exhilarating one but also a very humbling experience. The knowledge gained from Judson Wright, owner of KBG, is something I will forever hold onto and has further ignited a passion for the backcountry and to continue down this path of learning. When it comes to the backcountry, snow and just all around planning your trip, you can ultimately never have enough experience. Every day I learn something new and consistently check the forecasts with Avalanche Canada’s site. I plan my trips more accordingly and have safety plans set in place. People know exactly where I’m going, approximately what time I should be back and who they need to contact if, for some reason, we weren’t back when planned. All of these safety tips and planning can ultimately save your life. I no longer take a life of outdoor and adventure for granted.

A group on the skin track of the Whitewater backcountry.  A group of skiiers listening to instructor.

The biggest piece of advice that I can give to anyone getting out touring on your ski’s or snowboards – getting your AST1 as an absolute minimum! It truly will change your life and could save your life or the life of one of your friends or companions.

Much love friends, be safe out there!

A skier on the skin track in the Whitewater Backcountry.  A group of skiers on the skin track in the Whitewater Backcountry.

 

Digital Detox in Nelson, Balfour, Kaslo and...

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Digital Detox in Nelson, Balfour, Kaslo and...

By John Bowden, Cover Photo: Steve Ogle

Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Tinder. Email. The list goes on. No wonder we now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. But there’s a remedy to this digital desecration.

Sure, you can head deep into the backcountry and enjoy some blissful “no service” time. But if you’re looking for a little more comfort and accessibility, a trip to the Nelson and Kootenay Lake region is just the ticket this winter. Pack your skis, a good book, and an appetite, and get ready to reconnect with what really matters.

You’ll find accommodation options to suit all budgets and tastes. Looking for a true off grid experience? Check out comfy Logden Lodge in Ymir, about 20 minutes from Nelson. Wood cabins, fireplaces and no TVs equal rustic luxury. The historic Cloudside Hotel in Nelson is a great spot to soak up heritage charm, or choose from all sorts of vacation rentals with varying degrees of amenities and features.

Whether it’s dumping or the sun is shining, spending the day skiing is a sure bet. Whitewater Ski Resort continues to be proudly service-free, letting you focus on your turns and your ski buddies instead of your news feed. This helps explain the lively ambiance in the lodge, where you’re more likely to strike up a conversation with a stranger than find people nose deep in their phones. After all, it’s more fun to swap shredding stories in real time than waiting for the “likes” to roll in.

If Nordic skiing is more your thing, head to the Kaslo Nordic Ski Club or Nelson Nordic Ski Club for over 25km of beautifully groomed skate and classic trails. Cell phone service is fuzzy, but the warming shelters are downright cozy. The local rail trail in Nelson also offers great cross-country skiing, based on conditions, plus unbeatable views of Kootenay Lake and Nelson’s iconic Big Orange Bridge.

Balfour Golf Course has classic tracks zigzagging around the course offering open fairways, sunshine, views of Kootenay Lake and the Purcell mountains, and if you travel with your dog, they will be welcomed too.

Keep the digital detox going by exploring the Queen City’s heritage charms. Discover Nelson’s history and cultural spirit with a visit to Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art & History, explore an eclectic store or gallery, or just admire the fascinating architecture in town. Kaslo's Langham Cultural Centre hosts artists and history, with walls of pictures that tell stories of the past. No need to google the history of this part of the Kootenays, the museum tells it all.

Instead of consulting TripAdvisor for dinner, let your taste buds and instinct guide you as you wander Kaslo and Nelson’s compact storybook downtowns. You’ll find over 75 restaurants and cafés in the region, and many within a ten-minute walk. It’s hard to go wrong – their quality matches their quantity.

Fancy a tipple and good conversation? Head to the gorgeous Library Lounge in the Hume Hotel, or Kaslo Hotel, both complete with roaring fireplace, top-notch service, and live music in the evenings. If good beer is your thing, create your own pub-crawl and visit Kaslo's Angry Hen then on to Nelson’s four craft breweries, all within a short walk. Grab a map at your accommodation or the Visitor Centre, forget about Google Maps, and do it the old-fashioned way. 

Still eager to unplug? Head up the lake for a quiet drive and relaxing soak at Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort. Yoga fans will find a number of local studios to practice your downward dog. Stylish spas offer massages and all the other therapeutic services you can wish for.

“Service” and “connection” may conjure up images of wifi and social media, but spending time in the Kootenays is a surefire way to rediscover what they’re all about.

A Winter Day in Kaslo

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A Winter Day in Kaslo

When most people think of Kaslo they think beaches, paddling on Kootenay Lake, the iconic Kaslo Jazz Festival and SS Moyie, or some other summery activity; but this beautiful village on the north end of Kootenay Lake has PLENTY to offer all year round. Follow along for a perfect winter day in Kaslo.

Scenic Drive

If you are travelling from Nelson the day will start with a one hour scenic drive. Time it right, and you'll catch a glimpse of the Kootenay Lake Ferry.

The Kootenay Lake Ferry crossing during the winter

Nordic Ski

The Kaslo Outdoor Recreation Society has a network of beautiful trails for classic cross-country skiing. Take Highway 31A out of Kaslo towards New Denver about 9km. Keep your eyes open for the parking area along the side of the highway. There are several trails of varying lengths and difficulty to choose from, including an off-leash dog friendly trail.

The Moose Meadow warming hut at Kaslo Nordic Ski Area

Kaslo River Trail

On the way back from the ski area pull over at the Kaslo River Trail trailhead and take a quick walk down to the Kaslo Trailblazer's bridge. Even if you don't go further than the bridge it's worth the stop just to admire the view, breathe-in the fresh air, and take a photo or two. The path can be a bit slippery so make sure you have some decent winter boots on if you're going to check this spot out. (XC ski boots not recommended on the trail, for obvious reasons.)

The Kaslo Trailblazer's bridge above the Kaslo River.

Downtown Kaslo

After a nordic ski you'll probably be hungry. We recommend a walk down Kaslo's main street to visit one of their delicious restaurants. Delight your taste buds at the Kaslo Hotel, Taqueria el Corazon, Buddies Pizzeria, or the BlueBelle Bistro. Do some shopping at one of the unique shops or take in some history at the Langham Cultural Centre. Use our digital map and do your own walking tour.

Angry Hen Brewing

To cap off your wonderful winter day stop at the newly opened Angry Hen Brewing! The bright space is beautifully designed with tons of wood, high ceilings, and tasteful decorations (including hops light fixtures made by the owners' 15-year-old daughter)! They currently have seven beers on tap and are regularly introducing new recipes and seasonal blends.

Enjoy #FindingAwesome in Kaslo!

Photos & words by Janneke Guenther

Life is Better on the Slopes

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Life is Better on the Slopes

by: Prestige Hotels & Resortsclick to read the full story...

A Winter Wonderland

The roads were, thankfully, pretty clear sailing all the way from our starting point in Kelowna, BC to Nelson, in the southern part of the province. I was headed for a few days of 'ski-cation', about to spend four days in the famed Selkirk and Monashee mountains of British Columbia, and I was pumped to see dry pavement, until the last hour of my trip. When the snow did hit, I not only expected it, but relished in the fact that the hills would be carpeted with fresh powder. Unfortunately, I was on the road before the sanders or plows were out. Still, the ride wasn't too bad, considering we were still having a very, long Canadian winter. I kept my eyes focused on the road ahead and only when I checked in, opened the door to my suite, did I finally breathe a sigh of relief and had a great, happy surprise at my room at the Prestige Lakeside Resort in Nelson.

Prestige Lakeside Resort bedroom     Prestige Lakeside Resort living room

Whitewater is Actually Snow

A short 15-minute drive from downtown Nelson, Whitewater Ski Resort is situated in Ymir bowl, beneath the 2,400 m high Ymir Mountain, in the Selkirk Mountains. The Selkirks receive plentiful, dry snow, and the location in a high alpine bowl provides an annual snowfall average of approximately 12 meters. The day I drove up to the lodge, the sun was beating down on the road, melting snow and ice, and the air was clear and blue. Ski Canada has rated Whitewater to have the Best Deeps, Best Bowls and Best Glades. When I arrived, the hill was dotted with an array of skiers - a raft of kids lining up to get on one of the mountain's three lifts; 'oldsters' who appeared to embrace the 'hippy lifestyle' and others wearing the latest ski styles; families - all mingling together, with smiles on their faces obviously enjoying what lay before them and having a great time getting up and down the hill.

During my online research before making this trip, I was surprised to read a story in the Globe and Mail, which stated Whitewater remains a veritable secret to many skiers and snowboarders. When I asked a couple of 'locals' on the trail, they said it was probably because of its location - away from major airline centers, like Kelowna and Vancouver - and that they didn't mind it remaining a secret. As they swooshed away on skiis, they looked back and playfully said: "Don't tell anyone anything good that we've got going here!" When you've got something all to yourself, it's sometimes hard to share ... I get that. Still, I can't imagine the secret of Whitewater continuing for much longer when people discover its almost 1200 acres of skiable terrain and the absence of lift lines - with a great menu to nosh on when you get tired on the hill. 

Whitewater Ski Resort in the snow

Skier close up at Whitewater Ski Resort

Foodie Heaven

Nelson, in a lot of ways, reminds me of San Francisco - the way the streets climb from the shore of Kootenay Lake - to the vibrant restaurant scene. Downtown is a small, constrained couple of restaurant-filled blocks, with Baker Street the main draw. The architecture, similar to San Fran's consists of Victorian heritage buildings and cozy bars. Not wanting to venture out into the night (except to grab a picture), I decided to spend my night in the Prestige Lakeside Resort's restaurant (West Coast Grill) knowing that after downing a few calories, I could easily retire to my warm, puffy bed. I wasn't disappointed in the food selections, as this comfy restaurant fits right into the 'food heaven' that is Nelson.

I started off with the tuna tower, accompanied with crisp won tons and a small side salad. My traveling companion, Miss A, decided to begin her meal with a warm bowl of soup, the clam chowder. Both were stellar starts to the meal. The chowder was packed with seafood and the tuna tower felt refreshing. I continued my seafood theme with the steamer pot while Miss A ordered flat bread. To finish we couldn't resist the cheesecake, a raspberry concoction in a small mason jar.

Clam chowder at the West Coast Grill     Tuna tower at the West Coast Grill

Flat bread at the West Coast Grill

For more photos and the full story visit the Prestige Hotels and Resorts blog...

Go Off the Grid in Whitewater, BC

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Go Off the Grid in Whitewater, BC

Photos and Story Courtesy of: Brian Meier - GetLostLife.com

No Cell Phones, Killer Food, and Deep Pow

Nestled in the Southern reaches of British Columbia's Selkirk Mountains, Whitewater is the ski resort that time forgot.

There’s no WIFI or cell reception. No ski-in ski-out-condos. No village with overpriced, pretentious shops. The chairlifts are old-school, and the undersized lodge could fit inside a jewelry store in Aspen.

And yet Whitewater may just be one of the best resorts you’ll ever visit.

Snow, deep snow, is the first reason. With an average snowfall of 40 feet per season (you read that right), a powder day at Whitewater causes skiers to speak in hushed and reverent tones. There’s a reason Powder Magazine calls Whitewater “One of the best powder mountains on the continent.” Actually, 40 good reasons.

Skier at Whitewater Ski resort.  Backside of Whitewater Ski Resort in Nelson, BC

You’ll find big resort terrain at Whitewater—steep and sprawling—but in a small resort package. Ymir peak, fittingly named after the Norse frost giant, looms over Ymir bowl—a perfect horseshoe of chutes and glades. The bowl is serviced by two double chairlifts (no heated gondolas here), while a triple chair on the backside provides access to tree skiing that seems too good to be true.

But Whitewater’s merits aren’t limited to snow and terrain. Its little lodge serves up shockingly good food and may be the only ski resort cafeteria with a world-class cookbook series. Once you’ve tasted the signature Glory Bowl, the menus at every other resort will forever disappoint. It’s that good.

Glory Bowl from Whitewater cafeteria

No doubt, Whitewater’s magic is due partly to nearby Nelson, a quirky town that oozes a laid-back vibe. Long known as an escape for draft dodgers and counter-culture misfits, Nelson is now known for its amazing food, friendly b&bs, and prolific arts scene. Browse for old books. Shop for records. Enjoy elk bourguignon at BiBo—a big city restaurant with a small town charm.

Downtown Nelson, BC street  Oso Negro Cafe metal sign in Nelson, BC

Recently voted by Powder Magazine as the “Best Ski Town in North America,” Nelson is clearly no longer a secret.  But industry praise doesn’t seem to faze the locals.

And why should it? Up at Whitewater, there’s more than enough snow for everyone.

Read this story and more on GetLostLife.com

“Souper” Nordic Skiing in Nelson

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“Souper” Nordic Skiing in Nelson

By John Bowden

What do you get when you cross a friendly local Nordic ski area with a community that loves fresh, wholesome food? The first annual “Tour de Soup”.

Located just ten minutes south of Nelson at the turnoff for Whitewater Ski Resort, the Nelson Nordic Ski Club (NNSC) offers more than 25 kilometers of groomed trails. And for one day this past January, a variety of fresh soups to keep skiers going and give back to the community. Skiers were asked to make a donation in exchange for soupy goodness. 

The club partnered with a number of local restaurants to support the Nelson Food Cupboard. Event organizer Marilyn Lee looked to the past for inspiration.

“My concept behind the Tour de Soup was based on the story “Stone Soup”. Travellers come to a village looking for support. They boil a big pot of water to make soup and add a stone. The villagers, being curious, ask the travellers, what are you making?”

“The travellers reply soup, but it could use a little more seasoning or ingredients. Essentially the whole village comes together to add ingredients to the soup; and in turn the whole village is fed and nourished from the community.”

The Kootenay Co-Op, Yellow Deli, Yum Son, Kootenay Bakery, Farm Fresh Cafe and Falls Lounge all pitched in for the event. Volunteers ladled out their signature creations at one of three warming huts, encouraging skiers to explore different trails.

As a first-timer to the NNSC, I was caught between wanting to savour the soups and the views. Trails wind their way through towering cedars, imposing rock faces, and bubbling streams, with snowy mountain vistas in every direction. The huts each have their own rustic charm and make for an ideal stop to warm up and refuel.  

The NNSC’s relatively high elevation (approximately 1000 meters) results in great ski conditions. Plus, it’s hard not to notice the passion for this place among the staff. A grooming sled passed by us twice in less than an hour. The trails were in immaculate condition for classic and skate.

Although the official “Tour de Soup” may have come and gone, you can create your very own version. Simply fill up your trusty thermos with a steamy serving in town (the Kootenay Co-op usually has 3 daily varieties) then head up the road to get your skiing on. Don’t forget to wave at the friendly locals along the way!

To see a little more of the trails view our "Why Do It? - Nordic Skiing" video.

Peak Experiences on the Powder Highway

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Peak Experiences on the Powder Highway

Whitewater – Community love

Nelson, B.C., might be the coolest town along the Powder Highway. With 350 heritage buildings, Nelson retains its historic charm amid an artsy, welcoming population that values good food.

“We have more restaurants per capita than San Francisco,” says Dianna Ducs, executive director of Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism.

That love of food is apparent at Whitewater Ski Resort, where local, organic ingredients are found on creative lodge menus that go well beyond the burgers and fries of most ski resorts. The menus even sport a number of vegan and vegetarian options.

Whitewater is a small resort, with three chairlifts serving a vertical drop of 2,044 feet and 1,184 acres of terrain, but it feels much bigger. Hikeable backcountry abounds at Whitewater, with powder drops falling off nearby Ymir Peak (7,874 feet) and in Five Mile Basin to name two popular destinations.

Most of all, Whitewater has a friendly vibe you won’t find at most ski resorts.

“People say this place is like going home,” says Rebeckah Hornung, sales and marketing director for Whitewater.

“We are a community based-resort,” she says while sitting in the popular Coal Oil Johnny’s Pub inside the funky Whitewater base lodge. “This whole lodge we’re sitting in was built by volunteers.”

John Nelson is a freelance outdoors writer based in Seattle. Follow his blog at skizer.org.

This article was pulled from the Spokane-Review, January 20, 2017

Top photo by Sean Cameron

Whitewater photo by Fiona Beutel

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