Apex Mountain Resort: A Winterland Vacation

Some people migrate south in the winter – friends to Hawaii, parents to Mexico – but we opted for a cooler vacation spot this winter and headed east towards Apex Mountain Resort.

Apex Mountain Resort

Apex Mountain is a half hour drive from Penticton, a small city in the Okanagan Valley in the Southern Interior of British Columbia. Because of its location, Apex gets the perfect combination of high precipitation with low humidity, resulting in the lightest champagne powder. Horrible for snowball fights, yes, but ideal for skiing and boarding and snowshoeing even without daily snow fall.

Winter within walking distance

Though we ended up there accidentally when looking for somewhere to camp, Apex ended up being exactly what we wanted – somewhere we could camp and be within walking distance to various winter activities.

The small town centers around one square block that features the Gunbarrel Saloon, the Edge cafeteria, a snow school, rentals area, liquor store, and a shop for all your mountain needs (to mention but a few). And of course, there’s a hotel, a lodge, townhouses for rent, and an RV camp site where yours truly hung out.

Skating, Snowshoeing, Skiing – Oh my!

The RV campground was a two minute walk from the skating loop, which was literally a 1km loop through some trees and was so much more fun than skating circles around an ice rink, but if you were into that, there was also a hockey rink a bit closer to the town center (10 minutes from the RV park).

There’s also a tubing hill for the kidlets, and for those young at heart. And of course, there’s loads of cross country and snowshoe trails, most leaving from the Nordic Center further up the mountain, and one (the Honey Loop) which starts right in town (which was our trail of choice, given our preference to not drive). (We got lost anyway).

And if you’re more prepared and want to go bigger than that, there’s also about 70+ runs for your skiing and snowboarding pleasure.

New Year’s Eve, trailer park style

On New Year’s Eve, we opted out of going to the party at the Gunbarrel Saloon and instead hung around the RV campground, Trailer Park style, waiting for the fireworks we heard were going to happen. A giant fire pit was resurrected from beneath the snow and a bonfire started early afternoon that lasted well into the next morning when we woke up.

New Year's Bonfire, Apex Mountain Resort
Our trailer park New Year’s Eve bonfire

As we sat around waiting for midnight, we listened to our camp neighbours talk about their time at Apex. “It was packed up on the runs!” Ms. Kerry said. “Oh yeah?” The half Portuguese guy quipped. “Did you have to wait 3 people to get on the lift?”

And that’s the beauty of Apex. Barely 4.5 hours away from Vancouver, and yet a world away: a winterland no one knows about.

First Impressions: Lüderitz

A gaudy hollywood sign with the word “Lüderitz” welcomes us from a nearby hill. The rest of the scenery we pass is less inviting – a land of flat mud, sand, monotone gray.

Luderitz beckons. Namibia - Anywhere Bound
Luderitz beckons…

The town is almost charming, if kitschy. It spans eight blocks of roads wider than necessary for the lack of traffic, eight blocks of banks and houses and shops decked in yellow and pink providing the German architecture the guidebooks obsess over.

Luderitz is 'known' for its quaint German architecture
Luderitz is ‘known’ for its quaint German architecture

Healthy palms line the sidewalks, and somewhere in the distance there is the cry of seagulls, a hint of water.

Luderitz bay, between mainland and Shark Island peninsula. Namibia - Anywhere Bound
Luderitz bay, between mainland and Shark Island peninsula

It is almost enough to trick us into thinking we are in some deserted charming neighborhood in Miami, but the cold harbor wind quickly snaps us back to reality.

We head straight for the Shark Island campsite passing signs for various backpacker hostels on the way. The small peninsula looks like what I imagine Newfoundland to be: rocky, gray, with colourful fishing villages perched atop the scrags…but with palm trees.

View out to Luderitz from Shark Island. Namibia - Anywhere Bound
View out to Luderitz from Shark Island

We dig out the socks and tights and fleeces and wind breakers that we so adamantly packed away just the day before and huddle with our campsite neighbors by the braai until it is too cold to sit outside.

The morning’s sun pierces our eyes. Our sunglasses only slightly shield us from the sand, which also inevitably makes it into our ears, our noses, our mouths, our hair. The road signs warn “WIND” and “SAND” as the tar is layered with yet another thin carpet of yellow and the irony eats away at the metal.

Wind. Luderitz, Namibia - Anywhere Bound
Wind? No way…

Everywhere we turn, wind and sand, together, as one inseparable entity.