Celebrate flower power and fresh mountain air

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There are many mountains in Western Canada blessed with alpine flowers
in the summer, but few are as spectacular or as accessible as Sun Peaks’ Tod Mountain.
Photo provided by Sun Peaks Tourism

ROD SHUTTLEWORTH

SUN PEAKS, B.C. - “Breathe in . . . breathe out!” As we crest a small rise, I can hear my Mother’s voice from 30 years ago commanding me to take healthy lungs-full of the fresh mountain air. Naturally, I do as I’m told, enjoying the spicy scent of cedar and pine that wafts across the mountain.

Brandi Schier from Tourism Sun Peaks, my hiking guide for the morning, gives me a moment to catch my breath as we gaze at the panoramic view of the village and its surrounding peaks.


The first few alpine flowers are appearing on the meadows that double
as Sun Peaks’ ski runs.

Photo provided by Sun Peaks Tourism

On this last day of June, the first few alpine flowers are appearing on the meadows that double as Sun Peaks’ ski runs. They are the harbingers of asplendour yet to come. In a few weeks these hills will be covered in a carpet of colour, a crescendo of wildflowers, which begins at the mountain’s base and thickens progressively toward the summit. The aroma of cedar and pine will be overwhelmed by the sweet and intense fragrance of millions of blossoms. Cue the Alpine Flower Festival, Sun Peaks’ annual celebration of its spectacular summer colours, held this year on the B.C. Day long weekend, to coincide with the peak of the wildflowers’ glory.

There are many mountains in Western Canada blessed with alpine flowers in the summer, but few are as spectacular or as accessible as Sun Peaks’ Tod Mountain. You can hike up from the valley floor, or let the Sunburst Express chairlift do the hard work, dropping you off at around 6,000 feet above sea level. From there you can choose an easy traverse and amble trough the flowers or trek on up to the “top of the world” for a breathtaking view of the meadows, valleys, and mountains beyond.


Book a guided tour, or enjoy the flowers on your own.
Photo provided by Sun Peaks Tourism

The Sun Peaks network of 16 trails covering 35 kilometres includes terrain for every age and ability. With clear maps and ample signs it’s easy to pick your own route, but hikers can also arrange private guided hikes with experienced and knowledgeable locals, with routes tailored to each individual’s or group’s specific needs. These are booked through the Guest Services office in the Village Day Lodge, which can also be contacted for information on where to find the most spectacular meadows during the blossom season.


Nancy Greene will guide a hike during the Alpine Blossom weekend.
Photo provided by Sun Peaks Tourism

On the Saturday of the Alpine Flower Festival, Sun Peaks’ own Olympian Nancy Greene leads a guided “Reach the Peak” hike to the top of Tod Mountain. After a leisurely breakfast at Masa’s restaurant and an explanation of the route, the group heads off up the chairlift. From there, Nancy and her fellow guides provide a wealth of local information and stories as the hike takes a gentle route through the alpine blossoms to the summit.

Back in the village the festival offers a variety of live entertainment and family activities, including bouncy castles, open-air movies, live music, story-telling, and a free live performance by renowned children’s entertainers The Doodlebops.

But the biggest draw of all is Tod Mountain itself. With a season that runs for little more than a month, the sight and aroma of alpine meadows in full flower is an experience not to be missed. As Brandi and I head back to the lift for the ride down, I vow to return for the Alpine Blossom Festival, to stand where we have just stood, and just breathe. Mother would approve.