As a five year old Corry Bondini remembers hiking to Allstones Lake in Alberta wearing her gum boots. Now twenty years older, the love of the outdoors instilled in her as a child has guided her life down a path she never pictured as an Instagram influencer and Sun Peaks local.
She and her then-boyfriend Harley moved to the mountain two years ago and have settled in as locals since. After working at a hotel she recently landed a dream gig as marketing co-ordinator at Tourism Sun Peaks (TSP), sharing her love of the community with people all over the world.
Bondini grew up in Red Deer, Alta. where her parents Greg and Susan taught her to love and respect the outdoors. Family time was often outside and as she got older and eventually moved to Kamloops to attend Thompson Rivers University (TRU) it stuck with her.
Bondini remembers filling a van with her friends and their packed lunches to ski at Sun Peaks for a day while at TRU.
After graduating she moved to Whistler to live the mountain life she had dreamed about. While there she met Harley, who would later propose to her on a hike. Their wedding was idyllic and intimate on the slopes of Harper Mountain and he now regularly joins her on hikes and other explorations.
All of these important moments have been documented on her Instagram account @hikingcorry, which she started on a whim to share photos of her adventures with friends.
“I started the account five years ago now,” she said. “Mainly just to share my love for the outdoors with whoever was interested in that and to inspire people to get outside because lots of people think that they can’t go out hiking or that you need all this fancy equipment but you really don’t.”
The account grew quickly to over 16,000 followers who appreciated the shots of Bondini and her friends in colourful clothing perched on mountains, overlooking lakes or exploring waterfalls.
Bondini said when she started she was picky with what she posted, only wanting the perfect photos with filters and editing. Now she tries to be more open, showing the real side of the adventures.
But from the beginning she’s made a point of sharing information with others, giving directions to a cool spot or advice to those just starting out.
Since moving to Sun Peaks she’s also become a source for those in the area looking for details on the mountain, like snow conditions or good ski runs.
“Since moving up here I’ve been able to post a lot more of that content and I’ve found that people from Kamloops just love it,” she said. “They’re always messaging me. They think it’s cool to be able to see what’s going on in Sun Peaks.”
Living here has meant an increase in winter sports posts like Nordic and downhill skiing, as well as snowshoeing.
“We knew that we really wanted to be in the kind of ski town lifestyle, so Sun Peaks seemed like a good fit for us, a bit smaller and quieter and more of a community. We love it here and don’t plan on leaving anytime soon.
“I’ve always been a skier but I was never able to live a ski lifestyle and go every single weekend.”
Sun Peaks has given her more than pretty photos and Instagram stories. She and her husband are working towards purchasing a home in the resort and don’t see themselves leaving anytime soon. Especially as she gets more comfortable in her role at TSP.
“I’ve always been passionate about sharing images that inspire people, so it’s cool to be able to do that for work now and continue to inspire people to come to Sun Peaks.”
One of the things she hopes to show is that the life is attainable by everyone.
“I’m always getting messages from people I went to high school with saying ‘I’m so jealous of you, you live such an amazing life’ but I say I live a normal life. I just made these choices to move to another province and maybe pay a bit more rent, or food is a bit more expensive but those are my choices that I made and it’s worth it.”
For her being a local is getting to share her love of the lifestyle with those around her.
“It means getting to share my love for all of these outdoor activities with a community of like-minded people. I’ve never lived somewhere where everyone is here for the same reason…Even in Whistler some people were just there to party, you don’t really get that in Sun Peaks. Even people who just come here for a season come here because they want to get away from that kind of big party scene and they want to enjoy the mountain.
“That’s a big part of being a local, being a part of that like minded community.”
This winter she’ll stay put, taking full advantage of everything the mountain has to offer and digging into the new job. But she’s set her sights set on more hiking when the snow melts.
“We just love how chill and quiet it is, we just love how everything is right at your front door in both the winter and the summer but in the winter especially we never leave, why would we?”