Revelstoke

and we’re stoked!  

We leave kamloops heading across the transcanada highway towards our second resort. We’ve always heard great things about Revelstoke, we camped near here in the summer and are excited to experience the mountain for ourselves.

En route we place calls looking for replacement cables to get our battery system back to its original tidyness.  Of course, these cables are very rare and apparently only used by victron, so we arrange to have spares sent to calgary, where we’ll be meeting friends next week.  It’s just never easy…but at least we know how long we have to keep the system “taped together”…

As we near revelstoke we take a short hike looking for a hidden waterfall.  Really just an excuse to keep from doing the insulating that I should be doing but also a fun hike and an amazing frozen waterfall…despite hiking in single degree temps.  At this point we are COLD, and only leave the van when on a mission to either walk the dog, or get quickly from point A (warm van) to an even warmer point B…but we needed the exercise and were thrilled to stumble over the falls!

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We complete our journey to Revelstoke mountain, pull into the parking lot and take a tour of the village.  It’s a quick tour as the village is really just one hotel (the Summit Place) and the lift up the mountain.

We pick up our passes for morning, check our boards in for a (much needed) overnight tune and wax, and retire to the van.  Revelstoke is awesome enough to allow a night of camping as log as you’re in a self-contained camper, which we decide to take full advantage of.  We pulled into the back of the lot, marveled at the alpenglow as the sun sets behind the peaks and decide to take a crack at the insulation project before complete darkness.

I had cut up the panels of rigid insulation the night before to roughly the right size, but with the double digit negative temps outside, even the process of pulling out our gear, unscrewing the wood panel and adding the insulation was almost too much for us.

We would like to think that we are acclimating to this weather, but seriously…we have no idea how people live in these temps full time.  Regardless, we managed to get phase one of the insulation complete…the rest will have to wait for calgary and our replacement battery cables.  Not perfect considering the temps, but so far we’ve been able to keep the batteries warm enough to charge up during our drives the last few days.

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In the morning we dress in almost every layer of clothing we have and hit the mountain early.
The clouds have rolled in and there’s almost no view off the mountain, but the visibility on the runs is good and revelstoke put us through our paces with tenuously long runs from top to bottom.  This resort boasts the most vertical feet in north america, and even by lunch our legs were screaming!

There was no new snow and we were wishing we had the several feet of fresh powder back from whistler, but we enjoyed our day and the ability to start honing in our long overlooked skills.

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After our day on the mountain we decided to head down and check out the town of Revelstoke. This is where we really started to fall in love.  Every person we met, every place we went in town was absolutely lovely.  We had a perfect experience in almost all ways.  In fact, while we are a long way from looking for a winter destination to reside…it’s very easy for us to see why people move here for one winter and never leave.

We parked just a block out of town to make sure we weren’t in the way of any snow clearing (all streets in town were very clearly marked and scared us off), but there’s no snow forecast for days so it seems a moot point to us.  We walk a few blocks to the town aquatic center, where we enjoy the hot tub, sauna and heated lazy river (yes, im serious) to warm up from our cold day on the mountain.  Seriously, this town is amazing and might just be the perfect place to live in your van if ever we’ve seen it.

Just before 4am we wake up.  Cold.
Really, REALLY cold!  The outside temps are still in the negative teens and we can see our breath inside the van.  The heater isn’t working, and at least a few moments of panic come over us.  A quick check of the indicator shows it shut itself down with a low voltage warning.  Wait, what?  The only thing on our auxillary battery is the heater, and the heater is diesel fueled, meaning there’s no way our battery should be dead.

We lie tucked under the comforter, jen trying to sleep while I try to research on the cell phone what could possibly be going wrong- all the while painting horrible worse case scenarios in my head.  We obviously can’t snowboard tomorrow because karma cant stay in the van without heat.  We also can’t sleep another night without heat in these frigid temps, and will have to try finding a place to stay in town.  Something also must be wrong with the battery, and at this point I’m assuming it hasn’t topped itself off since we left portland.

By 6am I realize I’m not going to learn anymore online and need to go start testing things.  I throw my frozen clothes under the comforter for a few minutes to worm them up before putting them on and then finally find the gumption to get out of bed and start problem solving.  Jen gets up and starts some coffee to warm us up and I leave the van to find a 4-6 inch blanket of snow covering the van and the street around us.

I shake my head, ask jen if I was wrong about the forecast calling for 0 new snow (what a pleasant surprise) and go on about testing the battery.  It is indeed low, ruling out a problem with the heater controller.  We fire up the van, mostly to get some heat flowing but also so I can see whether the battery is indeed charging.  Turns out the battery is getting 14+ volts as I would expect and seems to be holding a charge.  Completely bumfuzzled, we sit inside the van waiting for the battery to top off and waiting to warm up while we watch the snow continue to fall in thick chunks from the sky.

My only theory is that between constant heavy use of the heater and extreme cold temps, the battery simply couldn’t hold its charge as long as we might have expected…but all seems well (at least for now), and the rudely cold awakening seems to have made sure we were up early enough to get back up the mountain for early first tracks in a completely surprise snow.

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Not the way I would choose to wake up, but when life gives you lemons…

Our second day on “the big stoke” was amazing.  The featherlight snow made for a glorious day of it and even though extremely cold, we had an absolute blast.  By end of day the skies even began opening up so we could see some of the mountain views we missed in yesterdays cloudy skies.  Were it not for plans to meet Bailie and Dave in Banff on sunday, there’s simply no way we wouldn’t be staying for another few days on this mountain.

We slept one more night in the lot and headed east toward the rockies and Banff early the next morning.
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