Golden

It’s crazy to think that 8 months ago we were packing our things with the goal of heading west. “West” was, I must admit a pretty vague goal, but it’s vagueness was part of it’s magic. Eight crazy months ago we had never even heard of Golden, British Columbia. We didn’t have jobs, but we were “pretty sure” we could figure that part out when we got there,  wherever “there” was. Before we set out on our adventure I knew two things: I knew I wanted to travel more than I wanted to do anything else, and I knew I wanted to spend a winter in the mountains where I could ski as much as possible and work just enough to keep it all going.

What I didn’t count on, was ending up in a place like Golden.

It’s hard to explain exactly what it is about this place that makes it so special. As anyone who came here for a season and stayed for many more will tell you; “Golden is a trap. But it’s a good trap.” Golden isn’t perfect, it has it’s little quirks, some more inconvenient than others. Getting stopped by trains that stretch for kilometres is an almost daily occurrence, and if you want to buy something in Golden there’s a good chance you won’t be able to find whatever it is you’re looking for. And if you are lucky enough to find what you need you will almost always be overcharged for it.

But this town’s smallness is also what makes it great. There is a strong sense of community in long and short-term residents alike.  If you need a ride, most people will happily pick up hitchhikers. If your ride breaks down it’s never long before someone offers to help. If you stop at the liquor store after work you’re guaranteed to see at least three people you know. Kicking Horse, Golden’s ski resort, has some of the most challenging terrain around and yet most days you can ski from open to close and barely see a single line up.

In Golden there is (as you might expect) a strong appreciation for outdoorsy-ness no matter what time of year. After all, the town is nestled between six national parks, with numerous provincial parks within easy driving distance as well. Hiking boots are the footwear of choice, although it’s not unheard of to pop into the grocery store with your snowboard boots still on from a day of riding. In summer you can golf, hike, raft, bike and more. In winter, the promise of a snow storm makes twenty-somethings act like kids on Christmas Eve, eager to click into skis, or strap on a board and ride some pow.

Sadly for Aaron and I this winter was somewhat lacking in the way of snow. In fact long-time locals say this is the worst winter they can remember. The good news is that there’s always next season, and yes we’ve already made plans to come back next season. In spite of less-than-ideal weather we had a great winter. We made friends from across the country and around the world. We both really improved our skills on the snow and we even gave each other’s sport a try; Aaron spent a day on skis and I tried snowboarding!

The cabin we rented in Golden had two bedrooms and a loft with another two beds. Having some extra space was awesome, because it meant we could host guests, something we took full advantage of. At Christmas my family spent a week with us, and it was so much fun to ski with them and have them here for the holidays! In February, my aunt (who is really more of a cross-country skier at heart) braved her first powder day on one of the best snow days of the entire season. A week later some of Aaron’s friends from Waterdown came to visit and had some sweet ski days. The following week friends from Waterloo came for a little bit of skiing and lots of rounds of Kings. We got to spend March break with our friend Rebecca (who loved Golden so much she came back a few weeks later) and to top it all off, Aaron’s mom flew in and spent Easter with us!

Our jobs at the ski hill ended mid April, so we’ve spent the last couple weeks getting back into running, enjoying spring weather, saying goodbye to friends and preparing for our upcoming road trip.

There are lots of exciting new places on the horizon, stay tuned to see where we end up next!

-J

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