Newbies Guide: Which way to the hitching spot?

You’ve made it to Fernie, by one varying form of circuitous transportation or another. Whilst others headed to Whistler, you picked a destination that although increasingly popular in your small hometown, is unknown to most Canadians you’ve so far met. But trusting the Fernie rumors and with work visa safely stapled in passport, stuffed somewhere in your 80L backpack along with the rest of your life, you arrive in the valley. Snow Valley.

But where’s the snow? It appears to be mainly raining and to kill time, cruising the salvos and regardless of gender, learning how to crochet something called a toque is seemingly the thing to do. Not to mention familiarizing yourself with the joys of Kraft Dinner. Welcome to inter-season Fernie.

But as the snow rolls into town, an excitement builds upon fellow enthusiastic travelers, (whom thankfully do exist and were simply on the bus behind you). Tales of previous European seasons and Fernie’s infamous snowfall spread ripe throughout the hostel bar. Gut instinct friendships are made, accommodation is sought, then new friends go their separate ways – becoming merely an acquaintance that you’ll bump into in the Bargain Store whilst buying your Bed in a Bag.

Want to get ahead of the game this winter? Here’re a few tips…

1. Get a room! Check out the bulletin board opposite the Post Office on 3rd Ave, hit up Central Reservations, keep your eyes peeled for ads around town, or check out for rooms and roomies. Look out for “on-site laundry” and “fully furnished” to save you a few bucks.

2. Getting from A to B. There are a number of environmentally friendly and popular options – Fernie Car Share, Elk Valley Transit, the hitching spot, ski hill shuttle, or simply walk! For further afield, check out Greyhound buses, Cranbrook or Calgary Airport. If you do decide to buy a car, car insurance prices are standardized in Canada, no searching online for deals, just head to Falkins on 2nd Ave to get covered.

3. Work on the hill or in town? Both have their benefits. More evening jobs in town to increase your skiing time and a higher wage. But with a ski pass, ride breaks and working with other fun-seeking travelers at the hill, makes it a tough decision. Look out for the Job Fair to secure your perfect powder-financing job.

4. Resume lacking? A strong resume is a must. Head to Jobseekers on 2nd Ave for a full list of jobs, computer usage (job related only) and sound advice.

5. Want to make friends back home jealous? It’s pretty easy to stay in touch (if you want to). For a cell phone, head to Bunches on 2nd Ave for the best pay as you go deals. You can post a letter (unsurprisingly) at the Post Office on 3rd Ave and set up a PO Box address so you can receive your Mum’s care packages (of non-rubbery cheese and marmite). For Internet, head to Mugshots on 3rd Ave, the Heritage Library on 5th St, or look out for wi-fi spots.

6. Want to stay healthy all season? Fernie is small but has an amazing number of resources. From outside Canada? Come with travel insurance or check out the Health & Wellness section of the Directory in this guide. From out of Province? You can get a BC Care card if you’re here for three months.

7. Need a pre-winter pastime other than crocheting? Go for a hike, join the library for free (you just need a credit card), hit up the Aquatic Centre for a hot tub, head to the cozy Vogue Theatre or try out the meal and drink specials throughout town. Then join Evolution Gym to counteract the 30 wings you just devoured.

8. Last but not least. Want to become a ‘local’? Easy. Just get yourself a travel mug, reusable shopping bags, a Save on More Card and a puffy jacket. Oh and learn to call it a toque.

Welcome to Fernie. You’ve come for the winter, but we guarantee you’ll stay for the summer…

Photo By Nick Nault