Vernon Winter Wellness
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Rebecca Bollwitt for #OkanaganExploring
Bob Vedan is living the active lifestyle dream in Vernon.
“My trifecta is skiing in the morning, golfing in the afternoon, and curling at night,” the 20-year Silverstar Mountain Host Bob Vedan told me over a cup of hot chocolate in the village on a snowy Friday afternoon. He completed his trifecta last year, and he’s going for it again this year.
“What’s nice about Vernon is that wellness is something that people seem to embrace here,” says fitness pro and local exercise physiologist Ginel Stephenson across the table from Bob and me who says she always sees people out walking or running on the Rail Trail or on the hill.
Skiing Silverstar in the morning before hitting cross-country ski trail just moments away.
Sovereign Lake is also home to the largest full service Nordic ski club in North America (over 2,000 members strong) and there’s a good reason this beautiful outdoor playground attracts so many dedicated members.
The trails at Sovereign Lake are ringed by beautiful snow-dusted trees.
“Three-year-olds to 97-year-olds come up here,” said Jennifer Gauthier who was behind the desk at the lodge. “There’s an abundance of diversity for anyone in pursuit of health, and just enjoying themselves.” The walls were adorned with everything from ski wax to the largest cowbell I had seen since I visited Switzerland in 2009. It was a donation from Heinz and Elizabeth Stussi, and was the club’s first starting bell for the 30-km marathon in 1978.
Jennifer is a snowshoer, and she started working at the club because she was just there so much already with family and friends. “I love getting to enjoy the snow in a healthy way.” As soon as I got out by the lake, I could see the appeal. Snow-covered pines lined the groomed terrain, dripping with lime green lichen. As someone who knows their coastal rainforests well, I know that hairy, furry, leafy lichen that only thrives in the purest of air environments.
So many snowshoe and cross-country trails to choose from at Sovereign Lake.
Ski club members whisked by with a “Hello” and “Good morning” as snowshoers trekked across the path along the other side of the lake. After a few laps on the trail, it was time for me to refuel so I drove the quick 30 minutes into Vernon to one of the city’s healthiest pit-stops.
The Fig Bistro on 30th Ave. is known for its nutritious and delicious salads and power bowls, packed with hearty goodness. “Our emphasis on the menu is all local, fresh, healthy, but without sacrificing speed because we know people are busy, they want to get meals quickly,” said owner David Scarlatescu. I didn't have to wait long for my Mediterranean Turkey Power Bowl (with mixed greens, spinach, quinoa, peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, onions, kalamata olives, feta, avocado, sun-dried tomato, sprouts, served with our house-made Greek dressing).
“We get meats from the butcher shop next door, turkey and chicken from Armstrong, and the produce in the spring, summer, and fall is super abundant.”
Beautiful views of Okanagan Lake from the trails at Predator Ridge.
Powered up and ready to go, my final stop in Vernon was at Predator Ridge - known internationally for its amazing golf. In wintertime, they host events, hiking and snowshoe trails across its 1,200 acres. Rentals can be picked up from the fitness centre along with maps complete with icons that show you the best photo ops. Do a loop around Birdie Lake or head up to the ridge for a panoramic view of a glassy Okanagan Lake. After my full day of adventures in Vernon, I think I may have just beat Bob’s trifecta. Next stop, curling?