10 Miles from Town, 10,000 Miles from Civilization — The Island Lake Lodge Vibe

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by Bruce Kirkby.
BRUCE KIRKBY PHOTO. All photos taken with iPhone.

“10 miles from town, 10,000 miles from civilization.” At least according to Island Lake Lodge advertising. And I must admit, that pretty much hits the nail on the head.

For those unfamiliar with this secluded backcountry gem, it lies ten miles down a dirt road from Fernie. Or rather up a dirt road, I should say, amid the steep limestone peaks of British Columbia’s Lizard Range. Best known for winter cat-skiing – with world-class terrain and consistently heavy snowfall – the lodge vaulted to fame during the early Nineties, when legendary athletes such as Scot Schmidt and Craig Kelly began making annual pilgrimages. The images and movies they returned with (starting with P-tex, Lies, & Duct Tape, 1993) launched Island Lake’s fame.

At least as a winter destination. Considerably less is known about Island Lake Lodge as a summer getaway.

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So when my wife and I found ourselves blessed with an unexpected, last-minute, kid-free vacation (our first in six years; thanks, Grandma) we knew what we wanted: peace, comfort, relaxation – and lots of opportunity for outdoor activities. Just an hour away from our home, Island Lake had space (they have more than you’d think in summer) and an hour later, we were headed that way.

We’d been to Island Lake 15 years earlier for a buddy’s wedding, but things had changed a lot since. Two immense log-style lodges, and a bunch of trails, had been added.

I’m generally not a fan of fancy getaways – I’m kinda more of a tent-and-gas-stove guy – but Island Lake proved to be a perfect balance. Comfortable, well-thought-out rooms (from the bed we could gaze over high ridges, peaks and snowfields), insanely good food, and the feeling you were a long way away from civilization (even though we really weren’t). There was a spa and massage studio, along with an outdoor hot tub. We biked, standup paddle boarded, hiked… and drank a fair bit of wine. Oh, and slept. Lots. In total silence.

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Promising not to work (I’m an adventure photographer and writer) I left my camera bag at home, but Island lake’s surroundings were so stunning that I couldn’t resist, and soon my iPhone was clicking away. As Chase Jarvis says: ‘The best camera in the world is the one you have with you.” The images you see here were shot from the hip with an iPhone – a glimpse at a total getaway, just 10 miles from town.

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