The long weekend campers who confronted 'white sheets' of snow

The campers who headed to the mountains for the Victoria Day holiday weekend in 1995 got a lot more than sunshine.

Sun shone on three-day May weekend in the mountains near Calgary -- after a 20-cm snowfall

Snow on the May long weekend

28 years ago
Duration 1:53
Campers in Alberta's Kananaskis region were expecting a little snow, but not 20 centimetres.

The sun was shining by the time a CBC crew caught up with some campers in a Kananaskis campground on May 21, 1995.

But that hadn't been the story the night before about 9 p.m. for Dale Marklinger and his friends. 

"It just kept coming down and they said, 'eh, it's letting up,'" a shirtless Marklinger told reporter Brenda Ziegler. "All of a sudden it just ... come down in white sheets and I said, 'Guys.'"

"[He] had forgotten what it was like to go camping [on] the May long weekend," said Ziegler.

So much so, Dale Marklinger's only footwear for the weekend was a pair of sandals.

'Snowing like you wouldn't believe'

Socks laid out to dry
With the sun out, camper Dale Marklinger was able to dry his socks. (Calgary Newshour/CBC Archives)

Other campers were equally taken by surprise as they enjoyed traditional campground activities.

"We were sitting by the fire and the wind started going crazy," said a woman. "And then snowing like you wouldn't believe."

The heavy, wet snow had toppled tents and tarps and prompted some campers to pull up stakes a day early.

"We got soaking wet," said a woman who still seemed to be recovering from the ordeal. "We spent the night in the car."

That solution to the sudden snowfall had its own challenges.

An 'uncomfortable' night

Van pulling camper trailer
The weekend snow was a dealbreaker for campers who packed up their campsites a day earlier than planned. (Calgary Newshour/CBC Archives)

"Oh, it was very uncomfortable," said a young man reclining in the driver's seat of a vehicle. "We had this foldout thing and there's, like, things sticking in my back ... other than that I was fine."

While many campers in the fully booked campground had already left, others stuck around and were seen playing in the snow.

"Out here in the mountains and in Kananaskis country ... they received about 20 centimetres," said Ziegler. 

But Environment Canada was predicting the rest of the week would be "nice," she added.

Woman with snowy field behind her
Reporter Brenda Ziegler stands in a snowy Alberta field on the May long weekend in 1995. (Calgary Newshour/CBC Archives)

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