Tranquilly tucked away in a forested river valley, surrounded by mountains and complete wilderness, you will find the wonderfully remote and dog-friendly Nipika Mountain Resort. Off the beaten path, off the grid, and 14km off of the highway shortly before Radium Hot Springs, this is where five Hike365 friends and their furry 4-legged companion Metsä found themselves recently, enjoying a 2-night retreat and experiencing all the best that life has to offer. All the photos from this weekend were taken by Hike365 founder, A.V.
Big, fluffy snow was falling softly on this renowned cross-country ski mecca when we pulled up in our cars on the Friday evening, a couple of hours before dark. It felt as if we were entering a winter wonderland, a fairy tale even, complete with chirping birds, the smell of wood smoke and playful dogs to welcome us (Nipika is not only a dog friendly resort, they are an off-leash friendly resort, including their ski trails!) The towering trees were laden with snow and the +5 temperature was a balmy welcome after the -20 week we had just left behind us in Calgary. It was beautifully quiet and somehow time seemed to immediately slow to a pace that our busy bodies and souls were craving.
We met Steve within minutes and I, like the nerdy tourist would, said something like “Hey I know you! You’re the son of Lyle and Dianne Wilson – you grew up here and built these cabins! The website told me!” Well at least I got us all laughing. It was true, I recognized him from his photo online. He was modest and helpful and right away we were directed to our cabin which was approximately a 45-second walk from the parking lot. (Perfect! We had a lot of stuff to carry over, and as most girls’ weekends go, it was mostly food + for us, skis!)
As we approached our home for the weekend, I could have asked Lisa to pinch me, to see if she would wake me from a dream. It was love at first sight, truly. Everything blew me away and was very impressive: the neatly stacked firewood on the side, the upstairs balcony overlooking the river valley and mountains and the whole rustic-woody-back-to-basics vibe. It was simple and that made it wonderful.
Now what I’ve failed to mention, is that on that long journey over from the parking lot, we passed a mid-sized wall of solar panels – a whopping 11/10 on my coolness meter. Nipika is an eco-resort and is completely off grid. It is powered 100% by the sun and the forest. The electricity is obtained via solar power while heating needs are satisfied by salvaging dead wood and burning it in a central boiler to provide hot water heating. Nipika operates in harmony with the natural environment by using clean energy sources, recycling everything they can and promoting self-propelled activities. Even all of the buildings and much of the furniture have been built from local trees killed by the Mountain Pine Beetles.
Friday night saw us enjoying our cozy little cabin to the fullest. We lit a fire in the wood stove and together made a bunch of delicious Mexican food in the fully equipped kitchen. Over drinks and folk music, we caught up with one another, shared stories and had lots of good laughs.
We chowed down on banana pancakes and coffee the next morning, and after a remarkably comfortable sleep, we set up our plan for the day. With eagerness and anticipation we were quick to get ready, and before long we were all plugging into our cross-country skis and onto the trail, conveniently right in front of the cabin.
What followed was a terrific 10km ski in absolutely pristine conditions, along the north trails with gorgeous views and fresh moose tracks galore. We met Steve on the trail as he was carrying out his morning grooming rounds and inquired about a couple of the unique trail names we had encountered, including Shirtless Tuesday. He recounted a story of a dedicated trail builder who simply found himself working shirtless, on a warm Tuesday in the spring! How cute!
Time to refuel, we headed back to the cabin for lunch where we made squash soup, grilled cheese sandwiches and another pot of coffee. After some relaxation and reading time, we geared up for the next activities: tobogganing and ice skating!
As fun as fun can be, the day was shaping out to be the kind of day you wish wouldn’t end. The activities within arms-reach were plentiful, and each left you feeling a deep appreciation for the simple things in life: friendship, laughter, health, and the occasional beer.
Post skating session, we paid a visit to the day lodge. Here we were lucky enough to meet Dianne, the mother and heart behind what makes Nipika great. It was an honor to meet her and to flip the pages of a personal family photo album that, page after page, showed the well-lived lives of her family, here on Nipika’s soil since 1979. The stories of the land and the building of dreams can be felt all around the resort. It’s a place so rich in history you almost feel like you’re stepping back in time.
The good times didn’t end there. Under a full moon that evening and to rest our sore muscles, we spent a proper hour in the wood burning sauna reaping all the benefits of a good sweat. A few of us even did snow-rolls mid-sauna-session! Whisky, wine and homemade pizzas were what followed, as we fully enjoyed our final night.
The next morning, after more banana pancakes, we all tried fat-biking for the first time and were thrilled to discover we all loved it! The trails we were directed to were predominantly flat – which made for a pleasant and easygoing experience.
After an hour or so of exploring the south trails, we headed back to the day-lodge as it was now time to make the drive back to Alberta. We said our goodbyes to the resident dogs and thank you’s to the Wilsons. Metsä seemed sad to leave and when Dianne noticed this she told us that a lot of dogs, when they leave here, experience what has been dubbed by guests as “Nipika Comedown.” That they’re used to running wild and free and then they go back to having restrictions placed on them, resulting in them feeling blue and missing Nipika. Well, apparently Nipika Comedown doesn’t only happen to the dogs!
I’ve missed Nipika ever since I’ve left. To unplug, recharge and revel in nature’s abundance, this is the place to be. It certainly left its mark on my heart forever and will be a destination I strive to visit time and time again.
Nipika is home to 9 unique cabins that can accommodate parties as large as 13 or as small as 2. The rates vary from high to low season but you can expect a range of $175-$477 per night per cabin. The resort is pet-friendly and ideal for weddings, conferences and retreats of all kinds. For bookings or more information, call: 1-877-647-4525 or visit the website www.nipika.com .
There IS something for everyone! Summer activities include rafting, canoeing, bird watching, hiking and mountain biking. Winter activities include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fat-biking, tobogganing, and ice-skating on the local pond.
Many items for our weekend were c/o the brands we believe in + who support our desire to explore nature all 365 days of the year!
Clockwise from upper left:
Beef, Turkey and Pork Jerky by @fieldtripsnacks
The Best Fitting Socks on the Planet by @fitssocks
Handmade Porcelain Coffee Mugs by @whiteowlclay
Keychains by @shop.bark
The Tastiest Organic Banana Snacks Ever @eatbarnana
Sleeping Bags, Backpacks, and Headlamps from @mckinley_canada
Sterling Silver Mountain Pendants from @mmackenziejones
Would you like us to organically feature your product in an upcoming Hike365 Adventure? We are always looking to partner with local, national and worldwide companies to promote exploring nature 365 days of the year! Email email@example.com with your inquiry. We can’t wait to hear from you!
Clockwise from upper left:
Lisa – Hike365 Ambassador @lisammurph
A.V – Photographer @picobac
Diana – Gear Specialist @dianatse
Dani – Hike365 Ambassador @danurto
Would you like us to organically feature your destination or accommodation in an upcoming Hike365 Adventure? We are always looking to partner with local, national and worldwide tourism companies to promote exploring nature 365 days of the year! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your inquiry. We can’t wait to hear from you!