Everyone has their own reasons for loving Pemberton — great food, wicked recreation, a slower pace of life, fresh farm-to table food — the list goes on. There is no doubt that Pemberton has grown ever-more important to the corridor, as it becomes a source of not just fresh and tantalizing foods, but also a host to events that draw thousands to the region. But what do the "insiders" say about all that Pemberton has to offer? Read on to find out where Pemberton residents like to eat, play, shop and stay... perhaps even a few secrets will be revealed.
Best daytrip destination
On tripadvisor.ca, Joffre Lakes Provincial Park has 27 reviews and a five-out-of-five average score, so it is not surprising that voters in the Best of Pemberton named it winner in this category and gave it three times more votes than its nearest competitors, Mosquito Lake, Tenquille Lake and Birkenhead Lake.
The first lake at Joffre is close to the parking lot, so you can have a short break from driving the Duffy Lake Road and take in its gorgeousness, or you can take a couple of days and really explore the Lower, Middle and Upper Joffre Lake system and its icefields and valleys. Joffre has hiking, camping, mountaineering, wildlife viewing and fishing.
The Glen, once more Pemberton's most popular neighbourhood, is described by realtor Danielle Menzel as "really family oriented with a great park." It's close to schools and stores, too. It's a mix of old and new houses and is the place for Halloween candy treats and maybe a few tricks, too. Pemberton Meadows came a close second this year and Menzel describes it as a popular place for people wanting a bit of land and farming, "the Pemberton feel." Pioneer Junction came third and is all about density, with a mix of townhomes and condos, and is off the One Mile Lake Trail and next to the community gardens.
SLOW FOOD CYCLE SUNDAY
Slow Food Cycle Sunday was far and away the most popular event for voters. Co-organizer Anna Helmer said being selected confirmed for her "there is something about Pemberton and biking and fresh air, seeing the fields and the mountains, and having a good bite to eat that is very appealing."
The pounding music night of 2 Acre Shaker came second and coming third with the wistful vote was the 2008 Pemberton Music Festival. Just as well, a new festival for 2014 has been announced!
Best Pemberton trend
Biking culture is the number one trend, with 63 bike trails in the region.
Mayor Jordan Sturdy is not surprised. "I've become a road cyclist and I continue to be a mountain biking enthusiast. The development of the trail network in the Pemberton Valley is tremendous and the focus of local government on those pieces that connect the community, like the Friendship Trail, is very important." He believes biking is becoming more important both in terms of recreation, positive impact on the environment, and also for the economic impact it has.
Number two Pemberton trend is healthy living and organic food and number three is babies – Pembertonians make a lot of them!
Worst Pemberton trend
Oh crap, not again! Last year's winner for worst trend is also this year's winner and it makes nobody happy. Drum roll... Voters have piled on their dislike of the perils of horse and dog poop. Maybe if owners clean up after their animal friends, we could have a new Worst Pemberton Trend next year.
Bike and car wars came second because war is bad.
Best use of money
The village's BMX track made enough Pembertonians happy for it to be chosen as the best spend in the community. "The bike park is a success because of the community volunteers and initiative, and the community support both government and non-government that made it happen. It benefits being beside the little pump track and the skateboard park," Mayor Jordan Sturdy said.
In second place is the aforementioned skateboard park, and also placing is the farmers' market/local produce and the improvements to the One Mile Trail.
Worst use of money
A repeat "Worst of" from 2012, the project we love to be annoyed most about is again the Pemberton Community Centre. Mayor Jordan Sturdy guessed it before he was told. "I think the community centre will serve Pemberton well for the decades to come. It does fill a need and is well used," he said. "If we were to do it again, we've learned from the experience and we will continue to learn as we take on more recreational initiatives.
Surveys and studies are also a money pit to readers and came second, while the Ironman Canada Race came third.
Best new business
Solfeggio, the wholefood restaurant that opened this summer, came out on top with dozens of votes. Co-owner Edward Dangerfield said: "It's great to hear this. We have amazing local support, which is evident in the voting." Pemberton, he added, seemed to be ready for a different kind of restaurant that is "a little more city." He added that the restaurant is planning to serve dinner starting mid-October.
Tadasana Yoga and Wellness Studio came second and One Earth Collection came third.
Most desired big city amenity
The most desired thing last year is the same this year. Swimming pool, swimming pool, swimming pool, the people of Pemberton say now and forever. Also desired — a skating rink. Alternatively, there was a small vote for not having either of these things because "We're not a big city."
Number one reason Pemberton is not like Whistler
SENSE OF COMMUNITY
It's the sense of community and a small-town feel that contrasts with the resort and its millions of visitors. Go to buy groceries or gas in Pemberton and you're going to know everyone there. As a kind of twin to this reason is number two, Pemberton is more relaxed with fewer crowds and tourists. The attraction of local produce came third.
Biggest news story of 2013
Pique's John French covered what was chosen as the main news story of 2013, the terrible plane crash at Nairn Falls in June in which Rudy Rozsypalek, owner and operator of the Pemberton Soaring Centre, was killed, along with three other people and a dog. French said the biggest sense of shock was waiting to find out who the casualties were. "There was a real sadness in the community," he said. "The fact that people weren't hurt at the campground where the planes fell... it could have been a far greater tragedy."
Other stories of importance for 2013 included the Slow Food Cycle, the Ironman Canada Race and the election of Mayor Jordan Sturdy as provincial MLA for the Sea to Sky region.
Most dubious decision made by council
Independent Power Projects/Hydroelectricity/Innergex were all wrapped up into the category of most dubious decision by the Village of Pemberton council. Ironman Canada was another topic that got Pembertonians going, as was West Vancouver-Sea to Sky MLA Jordan Sturdy's Pemberton mayoralty, which he intends to hang onto until the 2014 local government elections.
Best decision made by council
The responses were all over the map, and interestingly included all of the "Most dubious decisions made council." Some were happy that the council shelved the Pemberton Creek IPP concept, others liked Ironman, and Jordon Sturdy staying on as mayor was seen as a plus. More applause went to the community centre being completed, the recreational facilities consultation and the Friendship Trail plans.
Best example of wild west attitude
Hitching posts around town, especially at The Pony Restaurant are the number one indication that Pemberton likes a bit of "Yeehaw!" So what does that tell you? There be horses and there be cowboys and girls.
Which brings us to two and three. The second example of the Wild West attitude is the number of horses wandering through the community and Bob Menzel. Menzel may not be the only cowboy in Pemberton but he's respected enough to get be named into third place all on his own. Yeehaw!
Food & Drink
The Mile One Eating House is once again Pemberton's food and beverage dominator. The restaurant run by Randy Jones and Cindy Yu picked up eight awards this year. Of note is the fact that Mile One wrestled away a few categories that went to other establishments in the 2012 survey.
Mile One opened in March of 2011 and in 30 short months the restaurant is now Pemberton's preferred place to dine.
The Pony also received strong voter support in taking four categories. The food and beverage quality in Pemberton remains high. The new Solfeggio is too new to show in this poll. Look for it to find its wings in the next year and we'll see how it performs a year from now when the next Best of Pemberton vote launches.
MILE ONE EATING HOUSE
And so it begins for the Mile One Eating House and it starts right at the top. The eatery at the entrance to town, close to Highway 99, was voted Pemberton's favourite place to have a restaurant meal for the second year in a row.
Mile One has something for everyone in the whole family, one of the reasons the eatery is on top again this year. From mac'n cheese to steak, the menu has something for young and old.
The Pony polled second for best overall eatery in Pemberton. The Black Squirrel at The Meadows finished the voting only three votes behind The Pony.
MILE ONE EATING HOUSE
The final tally for this category looked very much like the result for best overall. Mile One finished strong with The Pony narrowly edging out The Black Squirrel.
For the second year in a row Mile One gets the nod for serving good value. Author, journalist and blogger Bill Corbett of Calgary, declared last year that Mile One has the best comfort food. He ordered the Southern Comfort macaroni and cheese when he visited and was so impressed that he mentioned it on the blog he writes about eateries he visits around Alberta, B.C. and Washington State.
Here's what he says about the dish on his blog: "Oh, my goodness. I rarely eat mac and cheese, and I may never order it again. I've been ruined."
Best wine list
This was a close vote. Only seven votes separated The Pony in first place from The Wood in third. Mile One Eating House polled in between.
Wednesday night is wine night at The Pony. Celebrating hump day with a glass of Fort Berens 33 Camels or a bottle of Chardonnay from Liberty School is the way to hurdle the middle of the week and prepare for Thursday and Friday.
Pair the wine with award-winning pizza or something else from the menu to set the remainder of the week up nicely.
With offerings like three layer chocolate mousse cake, chocolate tarte, lemon tarte, raspberry torte and almond pear tarte it is clear why the Blackbird Bakery takes top honours for dessert.
The bakery also offers muffins, cookies, scones, cinnamon buns, Danish and more. The bakery will add an extra special touch to a birthday party by making a custom-made cake.
MOUNT CURRIE COFFEE COMPANY
Mount Currie Coffee Co. owner Chris Ankeny says his team is very passionate about coffee.
"We source the best espresso we can find," he says on a busy Monday at the Pemberton outlet. "Steaming milk — there's a bit of an art to that and making sure you have the nice silky-smooth milk and putting it all together to make a really good latte. Our goal is to have a latte that's so good you don't have to add any sweeteners or syrups to it because it's naturally sweet and delicious."
Ankeny knows that making a good drink is just the start.
"I think customer service is as important as the product and having good staff that presents a great product is super key because no matter how good your product is if your service is bad customers won't come back," says Ankeny.
Blackbird Bakery also serves up a preferential latte and the bakery scored a second place finish in this category.
MILE ONE EATING HOUSE
There are seven burgers to choose from at Mile One. The ingredient list of extras includes Happy Days Okanagan Goat Cheese, fire roasted red bell peppers and B.C. mushrooms.
The meat is homegrown and Blackbird Bakery provides the buns daily.
"The burgers are a huge part of what we do," says chef Randy Jones. "We keep it simple."
Jones says many Mile One customers add roasted Yukon gold potato wedges to their order.
The Pony came second in burger voting and The Wood received enough votes for third place.
THE WOOD RESTAURANT AND LOUNGE
Breakfast at The Wood is a long-standing tradition in Pemberton.
Richard Keep, the owner and manager at The Wood says he and his staff make an effort to keep the quality as good as they can while offering variety with their breakfast menu.
"I think that's the key for a small town like Pemberton to try and keep the interest going for your loyal customers," Keep says.
As important as fine food is, a staff dedicated to great service is also required. There's an emphasis on homegrown staff, especially in the morning at The Wood.
"We try and make sure they're Pemberton-based locals as much as possible," he says. "It's been good to train up some new staff who have never done it before. Breakfast is a great place to start them off because dinner service you require an age restriction on serving alcohol."
The second place finisher was The Pony and the Mount Currie Coffee Co. picked up third.
Best beer selection
MILE ONE EATING HOUSE
There's a new winner in this category with Mile One narrowly taking the win for beer selection. The Pony owned the award last year and polled second this year. In 2011 The Black Squirrel took the honour. The Wood placed third in the voting this year.
This is a fluid award that hasn't found a solid home the last few years.
Here's another tight category. While The Pony took the honour this year it was by three votes over The Wood, and the Mile One Eating House finished just a few votes back in third place.
With The Black Squirrel getting top votes in 2011 the battle for the best steak changed hands three times in three years.
MILE ONE EATING HOUSE
Mile One again with chef Randy Jones pointing out the business plan didn't include take out.
"It has kind of caught us off guard and it has grown huge," he says of the customers who call ahead and leave with their order.
The number to call to arrange a pickup order is 604-384-3842. You see how the phone number is strategically arranged to make it easy to remember? The 604 is easy then you have the 3-8-4, repeat that sequence a second time and add a two. So simple at the end of the work week.
Jones insists the easy-to-remember phone number was purely coincidental.
"That's what Shaw gave us," he says.
Centennial Café was second and Kaze Sushi polled third in the takeout race.
MILE ONE EATING HOUSE
Your gourmet macaroni and cheese at Mile One is going to be served with a smile. And, if you order a glass of wine with it the wine is guaranteed to arrive fresh as the restaurant recently installed a Fresh TAPs system.
"We've got great staff working for us," says Jones. "They made the business theirs in certain ways. They've taken responsibility for things and it really just comes through in their genuine approach."
The Pony polled second and The Black Squirrel was third for service honours.
CRAIG BLANEY AT MILE ONE
It comes as no surprise that Pemberton's favourite server works at the restaurant with the best overall service. Congratulations to Craig, who Jones says relates to everyone.
"Our kitchen team will have food prepared, food ready for guests and we gotta track down Craig because Craig is so engaged with his guests out on the floor," says Jones.
Customers love engaging with him and Jones is pleased with his interactive style.
Shannon at the Pony polled second and Shannon's co-worker Phillip followed her.
SHAKEY AT THE PONY
This was a pretty decisive victory for Shakey with Cori Galanowski at The Wood picking up half as many votes as Shakey. Kendall Benbow at the Black Squirrel polled third.
RANDY JONES AT MILE ONE
Jones describes himself as an introvert who prefers to hide out in the kitchen. He loves talking about food and occassionaly comes out of his kitchen to chat with customers but not very often. Neil Harrison and Alex Stoll from The Pony polled close behind in second place and Trevor Turner at The Wood polled third.
This patio is right in the middle of all that Pemberton has to offer. The Pony took the most votes in this race again this year by a wide margin.
The patio is a great place to bring a book. Readers will have trouble sticking with the plot because the people watching is usually much more interesting.
Mile One placed second. The Black Squirrel and Fescues at Big Sky tied for third place.
Helmer's Organic Farm has taken top honours again. "We do represent a certain sector that has a wide appeal, good tasting and well-grown food. And I think there are a lot of farms in that category now," said Anna Helmer, reeling off a long list. "They're all run by people who like to do a good job and enjoy selling good food and getting that positive response. That's the Pemberton agricultural sector."
North Arm Farm was second and third place went to Ice Cap Organics.
DR. DANIELLE PATTERSON
Dr. Danielle Patterson of the Pemberton Medical Clinic was also last year's winner. She has been in practice in the village since 2008, and runs away with the prize of Favourite Doctor in 2013. Dr. Rebecca Lindley came second.
DR. SHANNON PAUL
Chiropractor and owner of the Pemberton Valley Wellness Clinic Shannon Paul takes the honour again. "I am honoured to receive this recognition again and to be appreciated by the community that I love so much," she said. "It makes me so proud that our community chooses chiropractic care as one their wellness choices. It means that I am achieving my goal!"
Second is masseuse Percy Abraham at the Kula Wellness Centre.
DR. ANNE CROWLEY
Dr. Anne Crowley is Pemberton's top toothy expert once more, having won the honours in 2011 and 2012. She has practiced in the community for 36 years, working part time now after selling her practice two years ago. "I have a great staff and office. It's just a good support group and I owe my success to them," she said. "I don't want to stop working because I would miss my wonderful patients."
DR. LAURA WHITE
Laura White joined Pemberton Veterinary Hospital this spring and has obviously made an impression by taking the top spot this year. "I began locuming in the fall of 2012 and fell in the love with the valley and practice," she said. "I started my career in a small rural community in north central B.C., and then spent a year and a half living and working in the Okanagan. Working again in a small farming community reminded me how much I had missed it. The clinic has a great staff, and our clients are wonderful. I look forward to growing the business and continuing to get to know more people in the Pemberton valley."
Dr. Christine Kirby, Owl Creek Veterinary Hospital and the overall care provided by the Pemberton Veterinary Hospital tied for second.
Danielle Menzel is Pemberton's most popular realtor, specializing in the village and the surrounding recreational areas. She said the market in Pemberton has been growing and that 2013 has been busy for her compared to previous years. Menzel believes this is due to a new wave of residents moving into the community.
"It's super flattering. You don't realize that your business has grown that much and you've made that impression. You're just busy doing the job. It's great to be noticed," Menzel said.
Erin McCardle Stiel was voted second most popular realtor, followed by Lisa Korthals.
Favourite outdoor guide
Pemberton's favourite outdoor guide is Bob Menzel, year after year, he's been guiding people on horseback in the region for 30 years. "It's kinda cool. We try to be that way," he said. This year he has been busy. "Tourism in Pemberton, in general, I think, has picked up. You go into town at lunch and it seems like 80 per cent of the people you don't know, they're visitors." He said a lot of his business comes from Whistler and from there all over the world. The experiences they are after range from enjoying the beautiful views to experiencing the beautiful horses. They're hoping to have sleigh ridges this winter.
Second place went to guide Eric Pehota, of whom Menzel said he would be happy to have come in second place to himself.
Favourite hair stylist
Tara Kandulski, owner of Mynt Salon, is Pemberton's favourite hairstylist for the second year running. "It's been a fantastic year. The salon's been smokin' busy. It is just so well supported by this community and it keeps getting busier. I don't know what other word to use, but it's been awesome!"
Jenn Craig at the Harem came second this year and Kandulski's Mynt Salon colleague Kaitlyn McNary was third.
Favourite volunteers times three
Three people, all tremendous givers of their time and energy to Pemberton, have tied for favourite volunteer in the community this year: Dave Steers, Shirley Henry and Arlene McClean. Steers, who has been a search manager for Pemberton Search and Rescue since 1995, was surprised. "Holy mackerel. I'm honoured. It's cool when people recognize what we try to do," he said.
Lindsay May was also honoured.
Bob Menzel is the King of Pemberton. He chalks it up to his democratic ways. "I tend to visit with people. I guess they all know me and they've all been bringing their kids by seeing the horses since they were little," he said. After 30 years, he says he concentrates on the rides he takes visitors out on and tries to keep it free for them. "We try to make it like you own your own horse and you're not stuck behind someone on a trail. We just go as we've always gone."
SHOPS & WARES
Best customer service & best value for money
THE SMALL POTATOES BAZAAR
The Small Potatoes Bazaar in Pemberton is one of the most interesting stores you'll ever walk into, with owner and operator Sweda Franken carrying a little of everything.
Housewares are her main passion but you can find home décor, art supplies, crafts, toys, clothes, party supplies, greeting cards — you name it.
"It is a really cool mix," agrees Franken. "In order to make it in a smaller town like Pemberton you have to be really diversified. We originally started out by doing a fresh take on the dollar store concept — although we didn't carry the low-end stuff, but the middle and high-end — and then we moved up into carrying some of the better housewares lines.... A little bit of this, and a little bit of that.
"People come from all over the place, they're visiting or passing through, and they'll make a point of stopping here. They can't believe there's a store like this is Pemberton."
Franken and her staff seek out interesting items with a variety of price points, while keeping an emphasis on carrying Made in Canada products and the best of anything — even if it is slightly more money. The emphasis in that case is on value, and well-made items that will last her customers forever.
In terms of customer service, Franken says that's genuine.
"Sammy, my assistant manager is working with me today opening boxes, and we honestly can't wait to open the next box because the last one we opened was such a great product," she said. "It's fun. It's not even like work. Sammy said it was like Christmas, and it is — we definitely love what we do, which makes customer service easy for us."
Ranking second in the category for Best Customer Service was the One Earth Collection, another eclectic store, while the Mile One Eating House was third.
Second in the Best Value for Money category was Mile One Eating House.
Best hotel/bed & breakfast
PEMBERTON VALLEY LODGE
The Pemberton Valley Lodge is bound to be one of the busiest addresses in town next summer with the launch of the Pemberton Music Festival in 2014, a three-day event produced by Huka Entertainment.
No bands have been named at this point, but organizers are promising an all-star lineup from July 18 to 20.
But while that's going to be one of the busiest weeks and weekends for the hotel, Pemberton's newest digs do well year-round. It has a heated outdoor pool and hot tub with a view of Mt. Currie, and it has become the default staging area for Pemberton's growing tourist business.
It offers Big Sky Golf Packages, Bed and Breakfast Packages, and is a pickup spot for all kinds of activities — heliskiing, rafting, horseback riding and more.
The Log House Inn Bed & Breakfast was second on the list, followed by the Greenwood Country Inn.
MEDIA & CULTURE
Lisa Richardson might have won favourite local writer for the fourth year in a row, but she's still kind of surprised the category exists.
"There are so many (possible categories) it made me think about how lucky it is that it's even a category," she says. "It's service awards, but there are categories for arts, music and writing. It's valued enough to think of it as a community service."
Since she last won a year ago, Richardson has taken up a new gig blogging about Pemberton for Tourism BC, among other assignments. Mostly she's just eager to tell her community's stories. Growing up in suburban Brisbane, she imagined moving to a sprawling metropolis to become a writer. "But I ended up in Pemberton," she says, with a laugh. "There's so many amazing stories and amazing people here. Forget London or New York. It's amazing to be able to dig deeper and deeper into a place and realize the depth of characters and stories and courage. All that kind of inspiration and meaty stuff is right here."
As of a couple of weeks ago, Papa Josh (a.k.a. Josh Suhrheinrich) is technically no longer a Pemberton local. The musician, who has gained a reputation over the years for his technique looping his original tracks, recently moved to Seattle, where he's already launched several new projects. "I am extremely grateful for each and every person who appreciates my music and I'm honoured that Pemberton has shown me such amazing love for so many years," Suhrheinrich says.
Don't worry. He'll be back to visit. "I'll return frequently for family time and to continue lessons with a few dedicated students," he says. "Pemberton is still like home. I'll be back again and I can't wait to share more magic with you. Thank you all so much!"
Vanessa Stark's bright, ethereal paintings can be spotted all across the Sea to Sky corridor. Among her list of accomplishments this year she says being voted favourite artist in Pique's Best of Pemberton poll "is probably right there on top!" Besides that honour, she also won Whistler's annual Paint Off competition, was selected to design limited edition Whistler Blackcomb skis last winter and created street banners to make Pemberton a more beautiful place. "I was really surprised, excited and flattered," she says of the win. "There are so many talented artists in Pemberton... (and) it's growing."
You might have spotted Dave Steers out and about shooting mountain landscapes, action sports and everything in between. And you like the results. "It's a very pleasant surprise and I'm thrilled," he says.
The secret to becoming a topnotch shutterbug, he adds, is passion. "I think a good photographer needs to take pictures and would take them even if he/she were the only ones who would ever see them," he says.
Still, he adds, "It means a lot to me to know that people enjoy looking at the stuff I shoot."
SPORTS & RECREATION
Watching Mark Abma in action always leaves you shaking your head.
A former mogul skier, turned competitive freeskier, turned big mountain film star, Abma's appearances are awe-inspiring. He draws on all of his skiing experience in every scene: he bounces down powder runs like a mogul skier, tight and fast, he executes freeski tricks like there's a judges' booth at the bottom of every run, and skis powder like a real west coaster. When he gets airborne, he goes huge.
And for the last five years or so, Pemberton has been his home — although sometimes that means the place where he sleeps and does a load of laundry in between trips around the world. But the more time he spends in his hometown, the more he likes it.
"Last winter was amazing, I didn't leave the country except for a few little trips," he says. "I went to (Mt.) Baker for a while, but really the whole winter I was back and forth between Whistler and Pemberton and Revelstoke. It was really good to put a season in and keep it local, and become more familiar with the backyard again. I've been travelling so much that I didn't really know the zones five minutes from my house anymore. Sticking around, I've gained a whole new appreciation for what we have right here."
As for the Best of Pemberton award, Abma says it's nice to feel like he's part of the community.
"It's really great to be part of a community that feels more like family every day," he says. "I've been here five years and it's rad to see how this community is evolving... I'm just really proud to call Pemberton home."
Of all the projects that Abma has worked on lately, the one everybody is anticipating is Sherpa Cinema's Into the Mind, their follow-up to All.I.Can. It's one of the most talked about ski movies in recent years, if not all time. Abma filmed a few of the segments along with Chris Rubens, "some nice pillow lines," in Sea to Sky and Revelstoke.
He's also been working on his house, and over the summer was kept busy by helping his fiancé launch a Pemberton restaurant, Solfeggio.
"It was a lifelong dream for my fiancé, and when the space came available we decided to jump on it," he said. "I helped where I could with the build, but now I just get to go in and enjoy the food!"
Retired Olympic mogul skier Kristi Richards was second on the vote list this year.
Best golf course
BIG SKY GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB
There are a lot of great golf courses in Sea to Sky — the Oceanside bluffs of Furry Creek, the vistas and rockwork of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, the immaculately kept fairways and greens of Jack Nicklaus-deigned Nicklaus North, the well-stocked beer carts and iconic, ball-stealing holes at the Whistler Golf Course and The Meadows.
But even with that level of competition, Big Sky Golf and Country Club is something special with its rolling, contoured fairways, its challenging bunkers, the superior landscaping, the alignment of holes to make the most of the Mount Currie views, the winding water hazards and the unbelievable après-golf experience at Fescues restaurant, pub and patio.
Big Sky is also the only course in the corridor with more than 18 holes, with a nine-hole Academy Course for newcomers to take lessons and work on their skills.
That should bring the number of holes to 27, but there's one more — Big Sky offers guests the chance to ride a helicopter to the alpine of Mt. Currie and whack biodegradable balls off one of the steepest mountain faces in all of B.C., a full kilometre off the ground. It'll cost you around $550 per person, but it's guaranteed to be the longest drive of your life.
The course also racked up quite a few awards in 2012: Rolex World's Top 1000 Golf Courses, Score Golf Top 100 in Canada, Golf Digest Top 30 in Canada and PGA of BC's Number One Public Access Course in BC.
General manager Chris Wallace was nothing short of stunned to beat The Meadows in the voting this year.
"My reaction to that (Best of Pemberton award) is that we're very, very pleased, and a little surprised — not that people don't think we have a great course, but it's always tough when you go up against The Meadows. There's a lot of pride in that course because it was built by the locals," he says. "To be voted the best against a local's course like that means a lot. We were certainly not expecting it, we just try to be as welcoming as we can to all of our customers.
"We've gotten a lot of awards over the years, but to get this local recognition means a lot to me personally."
Wallace has been with the course since construction started, and says all of the little design elements — the views, the curve of the sand traps and waterways, were absolutely deliberate. "We're always trying to give you a backdrop for your ball," he says. "The majority of our customers are from outside the province, and the mountains and the scenery is quite different for them, and quite spectacular, and we wanted to take advantage of that."
There haven't been a lot of major changes since the course was built by internationally renowned architect Robert Cupp in 1993, although Wallace said the course does have a different feel today.
"Mainly it's letting nature take its course and letting the trees grow up," he said. "I've been involved with the course since day one, and most trees were planted on day one, and as things are growing in and getting more mature the natural landscape just gets better."
While the course does tend to get busy with visitors during the summer months, Wallace said they do have a strong local following — especially in the spring and fall seasons.
For rates and off-season deal, visit www.bigskygolf.ca.
Best bike trail
Pemberton's trail builders have been hard at work building some incredible trails in the last few years, adding a variety of different options to the landscape including some great high alpine riding in the Tenquille Lake/Owl Creek area. Despite all the new options, the Happy Trail won this category once again.
It is pretty great — probably the nicest climb in all of Sea to Sky, and it gets riders to a lot of the best trails in the Mackenzie area.
Second on the list was Lumpy's Epic, a very challenging trail in the Signal Hill area with tough climbs, a rocky middle and a descent guaranteed to get your heart rate well into the triple digits. Bathtub Trail, a beginner-level singletrack trail that joins Pemberton to the Mackenzie area without heading out to Clover Road, ranked third.
Best indoor sport
Yoga may not be a sport in itself, but there's no question that it makes every sport better by improving flexibility, building core strength and through all the side benefits like controlled breathing and mental focus. Number two was gymnastics, which is a growing program in the community, and another core sport that makes other sports better. Sex was rated third, which either indicates a higher level of maturity among our readers (it wasn't number one, for example) or an overabundance of starches in the Pemberton diet.
ONE MILE LAKE
One Mile Lake is always a project in progress, with improvements every year. Some of the most significant improvements include the trails surrounding the lake, the connection to Nairn Falls via a section of Sea to Sky Trail, access to the new (!) nine-hole disk golf course, and general improvements to the dock and beach. In a summer like this one it helps to have a swimming hole this good nearby. Mosquito Lake, which has a great dock and swimming to cool off during bike rides, was number two, followed by Gates Lake.
Best outdoor sport
Mountain biking is massively massive in Pemberton, and one of the areas where Spud Valley punches way above its own weight in terms of the number, variety and length of trails. For all of the road bikes heading out to the Meadows this year, they were still outnumbered by groups with knobby tires. Skiing/snowboarding and backcountry skiing were second this year, followed closely by golf.
Best place to ride your atv or dirt bike
The Hurley FSR eats cars and tires. There's something about the shale that spills off the flanks of the local mountains that makes it particularly treacherous. Flat tires are commonplace and if you're really unlucky you could wind up with a rock through your oil pan or muffler.
But for dirt biking and ATVing, the road is incredible with lots to see and all kinds of great side excursions up logging and resource roads along the way. The Green River Motocross Track was second on the list (dirt bikes only, no ATVs).
Best snowmobile trail
THE RUTHERFORD CREEK DRAINAGE
There's so much to choose from, but the backcountry around Rutherford — including the Pemberton Ice Cap — is so huge, and the grooming is so well done by the Pemberton Valley Snowmobile Club, that getting into the alpine is easy. Access is also relatively easy, with not a lot of driving on unplowed roads to get there. In second spot was the Hurley, which is probably just as fun on a sled as it is on an ATV/dirt bike.