Last week, a co-worker sent around a link to a documentary trailer that really piqued my interest. This multi-award winning film is a story of a group of relatively ordinary men led by an extraordinary and somewhat mysterious leader on a snowmobiling expedition from Minnesota to Moscow in the dark days of the Cold War. Now, what isn't there to love about that?!?
Obviously, the trailer hooked me and after telling my roomies about it we decided to give it a go and downloaded it from the Wild Bill's Run film website. There is a minimum $6 donation to download/stream the film and it is totally worth it.
At this time of terrible news and unrest coming from the Ukraine and Russia it was really interesting to watch this film where, in 1972, a bunch of guys left the comforts of their homes and families to go on an adventure and prove the point that people are people no matter where they are from... as long as the politicians just get out of the way - or in this case avoided. Perhaps they weren't the most prepared or had all their paperwork in order but that was the beside the point. They were out there tackling terrain with gear not really suitable for the elements and in locations in the high Arctic where few humans of any lineage have ever explored. For this point alone they all deserve a solid high-five or at least a good beer cheers.
The final mystery of what happened Wild Bill Cooper may forever be left unsolved but his story and the legacy of this expedition will never be forgotten.
For the May long weekend a lot of people, including myself for a number of years, go camping, cook meat on sticks, drink lots of beers and shoot off fireworks in the late at night celebrating the start of summer. It usually rains or snows (or both) which can dampen the fun when a lot of energy is expended just in effort to keep dry and warm. This year I had a different experience... at this gem in the woods of Blaeberry (about 20 minutes north of Golden, B.C.) called Pioneer Cabin.
This trip was not only to get away for the long weekend but as part of a birthday present for my roomie, Ryan. We kind of tricked him and brought him to the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre for a private photo session with a pair of wolves and their caretakers, Casey and Shelley Black, the operators of the centre. And what an experience it was! These animals are magical and have a wonderful wild presence about them.
Knowing B.C and the oh so common long weekend weather patterns to bring on the rain I made sure to buy some new boots before leaving the city. As it turned out, finding boots that I liked and fit was a more of a task than expected. Apparently, I was too late in the season to have much of a selection - which is ridiculous but so is the fashion industry so I rolled with it... all the way to Gravity Pope and found me some of the best (handmade!) rubber boots I could have ever purchased. These cute Miss Juliette Bottillon boots in Carmen/Red are like wearing form fitting slippers with legit grip on mossy tree stumped trails. Inadvertently ended up wearing them for a nearly 10km walk/hike and had no rubbing spots or discomfort throughout the trek. I wouldn't wear them on any technical trails or for any altitude gain (no ankle support) but for pretty much everything else where puddles can be played in you'll find me with these cuties on.
The hike destination was to find Thompson Falls. Since the road was partially washed out just over a kilometre on the forest service road we ended walking much further than websites describe the trail... and happily so! Stumbled upon an unmarked trailhead not far past the two kilometre marker and figured it would be fun to find out where it went. Oh my - the nature was spectacular. The air was fresh, the trees were towering and the sound of the river was vibrating through the forest. The trail eventually led us to the falls after many stops to soak up the sights, smells and sounds of everything around us. And what a great falls it was!
Finally, a long weekend tucked away in the mountains with a fully equipped kitchen wouldn't be complete unless I cooked up some seriously good grub for my favourite peeps... so that's just what I did!! To top off the kitchen supplies the house owner/builder also has a Weber BBQ on the riverside deck and let's just say I like to dabble in the realm of outdoor cooking especially with a beast like this. I didn't keep track of all that I made (lesson learned for future adventures in cooking) but have some pics below of the goods.
The moral of this story (if there needs to be one?) for me boils down to a few things after these few days to contemplate what is important to me. So here it goes:
1 - get out of the city more often.
2 - unplug from the everyday.
3 - reconnect with nature.
4 - sleep in and eat lots of good food.
5 - read Rumi.
Now for just a few more pictures...
A little while ago, my friend Paula mentioned that it was the perfect time of year to go to Skoki Lodge. It doesn't take much arm twisting to get me to go on backcountry adventures, especially to this beautifully historic escape from the grid, so I said yes and next thing I knew, myself and three awesome friends were on our way in on Good Friday! I have been very fortunate and this trip marked my second trek in and it was just as amazing as the first time... with the added bonus of actual visibility on our hike out this time.
After checking in and making our way to the trail head we found that it looked like no one else had been on it yet. Combined with the snowfall warning we found ourselves in, we soon realized what we had in store for the rest of the day - white-out.
I aligned my thoughts with trekking the 11km to the lodge while being mesmerized by the ever falling snow and quickly found my mind was wandering. Luckily good times ensued with hilarious conversation and gawking at the bits of nature's beauty we could see. By the time we made it to Halfway Hut for lunch, I was ready for a break from the wet snowfall.
We made it to the Lodge without incident ourselves (which was not the case for a couple leaving the lodge... Non-skier learning to xc-ski on mountain passes made for a blown knee. Yikes!) and were welcomed with a smorgasbord of food made by the amazing lodge cook. Arrival tea really is a treat. As the Skoki Winter Information details mention, the mountain air sharpens the appetite and the three trips to the tea treat table sure was indicative of mine! Then just a few hours later we had dinner... another multi-course meal that blew our cozy lodge socks off.
With some nightcap wine and a bit of story sharing with the girls it was lights out for the Wolverine Cabin... and what we woke up to was nothing short of phenomenal. The weather cleared and we were in a postcard. Blue skies, snowcapped mountains surrounding us and the smell of bacon wafting through the air from the breakfast preparations in the main lodge. Could you ask for anything more?!? It was picturesque. It was beautiful. It was perfect.
With the two-stage breakfast in our bellies, we packed our lunches, took some final photos and it was time to hit the trail. Not long in to the trek we heard our first avalanche echo through the valley and it was loud. It wouldn't be until the trees thinned and we neared Deception pass that we would see the big slope release that looked like it was triggered by a chunk of overhanging cornice. Throughout the day we were witness to a few more avalanches and it weren't for the significant distance between the trail and the danger zones I would've been more concerned. Therefore, we were all in awe of nature sloughing off the snow around us.
With plenty of sunshine and a downward slope we made it back to the front side of Lake Louise Resort with plenty of time to enjoy a cold beer in celebration of a fantastic hike out.
Until next time Skoki...