Have we ever had this much snow fall?
Someone coined it “Snowaggedon” last week as the Mountains of Yoho got an unprecedented dump of snow. Often we see temporary road closures across the province for bad road conditions or avalanche control, however I think this time every mountain road in the National Parks had a closure of some sort. Knowing that those closures would only be temporary we just celebrated the massive amounts of snow we received. In the 31 years that I have called O’Hara home we have never seen our snow measuring stake disappear beneath the surface before. This year we did! And as I write this more snow is on the way. Its winter and that is what we want.
The Lodge gets dusted off for its winter opening
We arrived at the lodge for our winter season just over two weeks ago and began the annual opening ritual; shovelling roofs, getting heat going, cleaning off the cob webs and hauling in the supplies we need. It is always an exciting time as we prepare for our first guests and of course our crew of energetic and amazing staff make it all happen. Their diverse origins bring them to us from Vancouver, Truro, Nova Scotia and Muskoka, Ontario. Most have never experienced a winter in the Rockies, the heart of Yoho National Park, and of course the mega amounts of snow and the welcome isolation that living off the grid brings. For two months they spend their time making beds, serving wonderful creations by our Chef Jess, shovelling roofs and skiing till their calfs hurt. They will leave here at the end of the season with memories which will last a lifetime.; I remember when I spent a winter at a historical backcountry lodge in the Canadian Rocky Mountains! We are indebted to these young folks for the welcome they provide to our guests and all the hard work they do to make this place work. The big question is “Will they get out of the parking lot at the end of the season?”
There is a car peeking out beside our truck. Thats our Chef and Sous Chefs Car!
Back to the snow wars of the previous week. Although we have an access road which we use our Snowcat on to bring in our supplies the isolation that comes from operating in the winter can present its challenges. Each week we receive our weekly supply of food down at the Railroad crossing by the Trans Canada highway. The pickup allows us to “double down”; trackset at the same time we pick-up our food order. A task, pre snow cat, that would have entailed five separate trips with our ski-doo. We are able to provide an amazing groomed trail for all the Day skiers, Alpine Club of Canada hut users and our guests and we try to do this every Thursday.
As we set out this past Thursday for that food run we were confronted with over 35 cm of fresh snow and numerous trees across the trail only to arrive at a parking lot that looked like it had never had been plowed since the snow started falling in October. As you could see in the photo above our lodge vehicles were completely buried in snow. So as we waited for our food order to arrive we began to plow out the parking lot and access road with the snow cat. Working our way up to the Trans Canada highway we discovered that the highway was closed and no food would be delivered that day as the driver was stuck on the other side of the closures. We took the time to help plow out the Trans Canada at the entrance to Lake O’Hara and get the road down to the parking lot clear enough that visitors could access the parking lot the next day. After leaving the lodge at 8:30 AM we crawled our cat back up the road at 3:30 PM only to head down the following morning, under blue skies, to freshly groom the trail again. It was all an adventure and a first in all my years here at O’Hara.
We love the fresh snow and how it whitewashes the landscape In a perfect world it would snow every night and dawn clear and blue each morning. In my dreams they say! Regardless O’Hara is a magical place in the winter. Come for the day or stay overnight it has something to offer everyone.