Before I know it, my 10-year-old son has made three friends—the Poldmaa-Rask sisters, Camaryne, Halaina, and Marin—and they’re ripping around the hill at Searchmont as if they own the place. They take off down Moose Difficult and while the snow is pretty good overall, this ungroomed run through the trees is a bob-sled track of treacherous proportions. My 44-year-old knees are not impressed.
I chase after the group of kids, barely able to keep up. We get to the chairlift at the bottom, and they’re full of laughter and tales of excitement. It’s then I remember why I love making the drive up to Sault Ste. Marie; there’s something special about this place.
For people who head into the true north, like north of the Arctic Circle, there’s a sickness they call Arcticus Feverus. It’s an irresistable draw to the north that takes over once you’ve visited. I’ve had it. I still have it. But even though the Sault is a relatively southern destination, it has a similar power of attraction. This is my fourth time up here in the last three years, and I’m currently planning on getting back up here this summer.
Algoma Country, the region that goes northward from the Sault encapsulating the eastern shores of Lake Superior, feels like the British Columbian part of Ontario. It’s wilder than southern Ontario. It’s more rugged than southern Ontario, and it’s way less populated than southern Ontario.
Why is that any of that good? Well, if you’re the outdoor type, there’s everything you could want here. And if you’re the skiing type, the main place to ski—Searchmont Ski Resort—has decent vertical, a classic old chalet that doesn’t feel like an outdoor shopping mall at Christmas, and lift lines that are nearly non-existent. And of course, on top of all that, they get more snow than southern Ontario. Learn more about mountain trails, slopes, difficulty, lifts, and snow conditions.
For my family, my wife and 10-year-old son, this hill is a blast. With 700 vertical feet of fall line, and an average of 132 inches of snow per year, it’s a great place to spin laps. One triple chair, one double chair, one quad, and two magic carpets service the 21 runs that range from super easy to seriously challenging. And while we don’t arrive to meters of fresh snow, the sun comes out and we ski nicely maintained groomers all day long. We had soon met up with a father and his three daughters from Wawa and got a local tour of the mountain. And there is no better way to make fast friends than to ski with them.
Over chicken wings and delicious deep-fried pickles at The Kiln Restaurant, we warm our toes by the fire before heading out again. The kids immediately head back to Moose Difficult, finding secret trails through the trees for the rest of the afternoon, while us adults do laps of the groomers, riding up the chair with our buzzing kids.
As I watch the crew drop in for yet another lap of tree skiing, I can’t help but feel thankful for how lucky these kids are. They are incredible skiers, they absolutely shred. And then I realize that I’m one of the lucky ones too; these mountains, this region, this sport, and this shared experience with my family and newfound friends is something to be cherished. And I do. And it’s like this every time I come to the Soo. There’s just something special about it. I’ll be back as soon as I can get back up to this great region!