Sunshine Mountain in a Blizzard

When my mom told me that we were going to Banff, Alberta for reading week last year, I couldn’t have been more excited! Shopping in the village, cozying up in a chalet with a view of the mountains, and hot chocolate galore! Can a winter vacation get any better? I think not. Of course that’s not the sort of vacation we had. Any one surprised? I’m sure you can imagine how stunned I was when I found myself on top of the mountain at Sunshine Village in the middle of a whiteout.

Snow Shoeing

But Actually, Where’s the Snow?

When I heard that we were going snow shoeing, I actually laughed out loud. There was a light dusting of snow on the ground that would most likely melt within an hour or two. I thought my mom had lost her mind even more when she started to lay out snow pants, heavy coats, gloves, hats, and winter boots. I am not one to argue, but this was a little ridiculous. Being the good sport that I am, I pulled on my Uggs and folded my Aritzia jacket over my arm. And thank goodness I did.

Rocky Mountain Adventures

The Snow Gods.

You would think I would have trusted the professionals, but I didn’t. Our guide loaded up the van with goggles and snowshoes. Seriously? There was still no snow! We started driving, and guess what happened!? Just kidding, I’ll tell you. We drove for maybe five minutes towards Sunshine Village and I kid you not, there was a blizzard! Not light flurries, but massive chunks, like snowballs, falling from the sky. And as we got closer to the mountain, it only got worse.

Pulling into the crowded and snow-covered parking lot, I looked down at what I planned to snow shoe in. I was totally prepared for a snowstorm… NOT! My fashion forward jacket was probably the only that could come close to being considered appropriate attire. But, lucky for me, my loving mother brought an extra pair of snow pants for me. And, the goggles I scoffed at minutes before were on my face. Thank goodness for prepared people!

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Can we just take in how much snow is on me before we started snowshoeing!

The Trip up the Mountain

All. The. Way. Up.

From another blog post, I learned that gondolas are the way to go if you want to get up a mountain. Especially when this mountain is a million times the size of Ontario’s mountain. We went up and up and up in an enclosed gondola. I know, Sunshine Village is so accommodating to people afraid of nature. Maybe I should mention that I am scared of heights. Not the kind of scared that makes you pass out or puke, but the kind that gets a little light headed and uses soothing words when I am more than four feet off the ground.

Getting off of the gondola, I was caught off guard by the insane amount of skiers and snowboarders. These people are all here because they want to be. Like they are willingly plummeting down the side of a mountain for fun. Not exactly something I would call fun, but hey you do you.

Alright, there I was, ready for snowshoeing. Come at me bro. Let’s do this. Where does our guide go? Another ski lift. I’m sorry, what? You want me to go up higher? Like into that white wall of snow? The white wall of snow where you can’t see two inches in front of your face? I think I’ll pass.

Up We Go

Still Going Up.

You guessed it! I couldn’t pass. I hopped onto the rickety ski lift. Please note that this one was not an enclosed gondola. I was really, really happy I took the goggles our guide offered me. At the top of that ski lift, there was no one but a sign that read, “Trail closed due to weather conditions” and us. Oh darn, I guess we’d better turn back. Nope our guide ducked under the caution tape and said, “I guess it’s a good thing we aren’t taking their trail then.” Has he lost his mind?

I feel like this is a good time to point out that I have never been snow shoeing before. My parents, on the other hand, have been quite a few times. I paced myself, one step at a time. Left. Right. Repeat. My mom wiped out a few steps in and it was hilarious, until I took my first spill. To be honest I don’t even know how it happened. One minute I was walking along just fine and the next I was face first in the snow. At least there was a fluffy layer to break my fall. The hard part was standing up again. My feet were like three times the size and it just became a struggle. But after a few more tumbles, I became a pro a standing up again.

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I can’t even tell you which fall this was. There were just too many to count.

Be Warned

Stay on the Non-Existent Trail.

I guess our guide noticed how often I was falling because he stopped us for a pep talk. I think it was mainly directed at me but my parents were suckered in too. He pointed to a block of wood that stuck out about three inches from the snow and said, “This is a trail marker. It is six feet tall. You are standing on six feet of snow right now.” Just give me a minute to panic and then I’ll continue. AHHHHH. Okay, I’m ready to continue. “Do you see how there is a hole surrounding each tree?” *gestures to ridiculously tall trees* “If you fall into one of those holes, you will be at the bottom of a six foot hole.” *looks directly at me* “It is very difficult to get someone out of one of those holes. So, while you are walking be sure to steer clear of them.”

I know you’re all probably thinking I fell into one. But I promise I didn’t. Gold star for me! I still face planted several more times, though.

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Snowshoeing is not just walking. Don’t be fooled by anyone that tells you otherwise.

The Best Part

And I’m Serious!

Guess what! We got to go tobogganing on our snowshoes. I had so much fun I kept re-climbing the hill and going down again and again. It got to the point that they told me I needed to stop. And how did they get me to stop? Our guide brought us hot chocolate! It may not have been in a cozy chalet, but it’s pretty awesome to be able to say that I had hot chocolate on top of a mountain during a whiteout. If that isn’t adventurous, I don’t know what is!

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Not pictured: The wipe out at the bottom.

And do you want to know what else happened? As we are standing on the side of the mountain, enjoying our hot chocolate, our guide said, “Fun Fact: You are in British Columbia right now.” Like holy cow! I came to Alberta and now I am in BC. I am such a tank. I can rule the world.

Do you guys know what this means? I had an amazing outdoor adventure! I know it’s shocking. But it’s true, I did. Despite falling countless times, destroying my Uggs, and being on top of a mountain in a white out, I had a blast!

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Finally, a successful adventure!

Pro Tip

If I Can Survive, You Can Too.

Snowshoeing was the highlight of my reading week in Banff. Sure there were a couple of mistakes that I could have avoided, but now you can learn from them.

  • Check the weather network before you leave for your trip. Even if you are travelling within your own country, the weather changes from province to province. And can even change within a matter of five minutes.
  • Trust your guide, when they say there will be snow, there will be snow.
  • Don’t laugh at someone when they fall in snowshoes. I guarantee you will take a tumble at least once; especially if it is your first time snowshoeing.
  • Bonus Tip: Bring your mom with you! Moms will pack extra snow pants for you.


Have you been on any seriously awesome adventures like this one? Let me know in the comments if you have!

Stay adventurous my friends,

The Basically Adventurous Jordanne.

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