Christmas Off the Beaten (Showshoe) Path

Christmas Off the Beaten (Showshoe) Path

Nakiska Ranch is a hidden gem of solitude and friendship five and a half hours northeast of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It is the perfect getaway for the pavement-pounding city residents, but we even met a few locals from neighboring farms and the small town of Clearwater choosing to sneak away to the bliss of Nakiska.

What stands out the most about Nakiska are the warm, welcoming owners, Lars and Aida. We frequent city-dwellers made the mistake of taking a small Honda Insight hybrid vehicle in the snow (and thinking our WalMart chains might be adequate) in order to save gas. We did save gas, and very luckily made it without problems to the ranch itself, until we turned into the driveway.

No problem! Even though we arrived very late and well past dark, Lars came quickly down the driveway and informed us that he would, in fact, push our car up the driveway. Lars is physically everything you might expect of a Dane, and he actually looked like he could “carry the car” on his back, as he joked he would. Unfortunately the tires were quite deep within the snow, and every time we tried to accelerate, the chains flew off. Then the battery died. Lars laughed, and told us not to worry as he hooked up his massive truck to our little hybrid and hauled it up the hill. As he showed us our cabin, and left us to a romantic first night he said, “and you got here without problem!” That’s Lars for you! To him it was not even a problem to haul us up the hill.

We arrived to a bottle of wine that I had secretly arranged with Aida to have waiting for my partner and I to enjoy while we decorated for Christmas. Aida was very attentive via email before our arrival, and picking up on my enthusiasm to be spending Christmas in a snowy cabin, she offered that we could cut our very own Christmas tree from their property. My partner had always wanted to experience cutting his own tree (that’d be the Norwegian ancestry in him that he and Lars shared)! He took his snowshoes, set off trailing a sled and axe behind him that Lars and Aida had provided, and found the perfect tree.

We spent a day enjoying the snow on the property, admiring their horses, and playing with their three amazingly entertaining and loving dogs. There was a majestic sunset that at first produced very hard light on the mountain tips across the valley, then softened into an orange and pink glow, that seemed to be mirroring the euphoria we felt sitting there in the snow. We listened to the cows mooing, and the horses whinnying in the neighbor’s paddock across the valley as the light fell down past the horizon.

The next day we drove to two breathtaking waterfalls. We set off down the road deeper into Wells Gray Provincial Park where Nakiska is located, and never saw another person. It was quiet solitude, and we were surrounded by trees that appeared sleepy and sagging under the weight of the snow. The first waterfall was extremely tall, and cascaded forcefully into a pile of clear, light blue ice, and a snow embankment. The water seemed to slow and then flow out less forcefully from underneath the behemoth snow drift. The second waterfall was the opposite of the first, as it was short, but very wide, and had multiple tiers. We found a snow bank and took a seat watching the sunset, and the reflecting colors changing from blue to pink to purple on the falls.

We enjoyed a very unique treat on our final night. There is a bonfire ring for guests to use in a small clearing between evergreens, just steps away from the cabins, and firewood is provided. We spent our last night sitting comfortably in the snow, staying warm by the blazing fire, and enjoying our bottle of local wine. It was painful to say goodbye the next morning. We chose to indulge in the all-you-can-eat Norwegian breakfast prepared by Lars himself as our final experience at Nakiska. It was healthy, hearty and delicious, with homemade bread, bacon from the pigs on the ranch, egg and veggie scramble, Danish blue cheese, and fresh squeezed orange juice!

We left Nakiska with the fondest of memories, and the feeling that we had forged a true new friendship with Lars and Aida, which is very fitting considering, Nakiska is a Cree Indian word meaning “where friends meet.” We look forward to traveling to Nakiska again, perhaps this time in the Summer to see another side of the Ranch!

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