Enterprise Creek

Today, Sheila, Ann, Simon and I hiked (walked, trudged) up Enterprise Creek. This is an access road to Kokanee Glacier Park (a wonderful place!), which is, of course, not useable at this time of the year. From the highway, it’s 19 K to the trailhead. We trudged up 7.5 K until we hit the turnaround point at about 12.30 p.m.

This is one of those places you never ever want to go back to unless it’s in a truck, heading for the trails. Unfortunately, the forestry companies “own” the road, like they do almost everything else in BC and have chosen not to make the park accessible if they don’t feel like it. Washout? Too bad – they’ll only fix it when they need to get there and then they’ll keep the gates closed during the week.

When we woke up this morning, we had snow the size of cotton balls (I am NOT exaggerating!) coming down. And then – rain. We had low expectations for weather and got really lucky. Shortly after starting out, the mist rose and the sun broke out. We were in shirtsleeves in no time. The snow underfoot was thick, a bit slushy and very heavy. But snowmobiles had been up the road all winter, meaning we had a pretty broken trail.

Now then – let’s talk about this word, “trail.” This can in no way be termed that. This is a wide road, made for two logging trucks to pass each other comfortably. The grade is relentless, which means it’s sheer torture for hiking. Over 7.5K we gained about 450 metres in elevation. I looked for beauty – mist in the trees, water beads lit by sunlight, the odd mountain poking through. But there was nothing here that made my heart sing.

Sometimes I fear that if I have to walk on one more road, snow or no, I will fall out of love with my dearest love. If I lose my passion for hiking, a part of me will be lost.

But for a part of the year, this is the reality of the Kootenays. Sadly, opportunities for hiking, at least in the parts of the world I know best, are dwindling. On Vancouver Island, beautiful trails are being logged, sold off or closed. Here, access is difficult to say the least.

I feel starved for alpine – or at least, really pretty trails. All I am left with from today is, “Well, I got some exercise.” That simply isn’t good enough.

And yet I know I’m going to have to suck it up and keep going. The alternative isn’t acceptable. At least I know that next on the agenda is Evans Creek Trail which is long and along the lake but at least it’s in Valhalla. And there are a few others I have found labelled “shoulder season.” Most of these require time to get to – but dammitall, I will make the time to get there.

I’m not giving up! No siree! I am going to find an adventure tomorrow.

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Work

Work of all sorts is going on.

Simon is doing amazing work with the door and window frames – our bathroom is looking like a high-end spa! And when he’s not doing that, he’s chopping firewood, clearing snow and sending his book off to agents – and, trust me, that’s a lot of work.

Me? The usual: writing, submitting my book(s), baking bread, doing laundry, cleaning (domestic goddess – ugh!).

But today – more exciting work news: Simon got the job at the Nikkei Centre starting May 1 – part-time, which is exactly what he wanted. It’s also a job he is uniquely suited for and that we think he’s really going to enjoy. At the same time, we landed an editorial gig together – editing a brochure!

So that’s exciting – this is work I enjoy. Heck, it’s work we both enjoy!

I have ideas for more of the same. I shall let those ideas simmer. My guess is that we will soon have more than enough paying work coming in – books and all.

And tomorrow, we hike Enterprise Creek! No idea what to expect with either weather or terrain. I suspect we will be wise to bring everything: snowshoes, crampons, Gore-tex, winter warmth – and most certainly bear spray. Yup – let the shoulder season begin!

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Bushwhacking and Exploring

Today, I was determined to explore and find what Sheila told me was an even higher trail beyond the one we had previously done at Bannock Point. Where to find it? Who knew? But exploration sounded like a good idea.

Things are melting rapidly so I was prepared for some postholing – and boy did I get it! Right up to the top of my thighs over and over again.

But the interesting part of this hike started minutes after setting out. Sheila had warned me that the first part of the trail gets wet in the spring. What she didn’t say was that it actually becomes a river. This is no exaggeration – so much of a river that it is unhikeable and impassable.

So – first challenge handled. The puppies and I bushwhacked around the river and up a ridge on the left side of the trail. At that point I thought we might as well keep going and meet up with the high trail farther on – which we did. Excellent!

So – taking the high trail, I branched off at what looked like the trail heading up to the highway. But minutes after getting on it, I found what appeared to be a trail heading exactly where I wanted it to – behind the high ridge with possible access to the even higher ridge behind it. Off we went – and soon found a very old snowshoe trail. Again – excellent – we followed it for a very, very long time. This was clearly a trail – possibly mountain bike trail. And then the dilemma: the trail finally descended a bit between two ridges and we came smack dab to a lake seasonal I’m sure – but impassable. No worries, at this point I wanted to get up on a ridge and I thought I saw some good open areas up to my right – the high ridge, I thought.

Up we went, bushwhacking all the way – and I only got one owie!

We got near the top when I decided I was going to find a different way down. But we made it, looking down on what had previously been the highest ridges on the trail. Here’s what I really like about this: when the snow melts even more and the rivers and lakes simmer down, this can be an almost all-day hike through all these trails – reminiscent of the Westwood Ridges.

At any rate. At the tippy top I found a flag – and then a boot mark – and then, as I headed down the other side – old snowshoe tracks. Pretty cool!

So we didn’t have to fully bushwhack. There was no more trail flagging but the old tracks were easy enough to follow and eventually joined up with the high ridge flagging.

And 2.5 hours later, we were back at the car.

So – a very good afternoon. Any day that I can explore like this and mentally map a hiking area is a good day.

Next up – cooking a big curry.

And looking forward to a serious hike this weekend.

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Spring Walking

Today, having absorbed more awful news about clear cutting and deplorable rape of the land, I got my bum out on a trail. I call it spring walking – more like spring stumbling around, crawling past big ice patches and generally scrambling to stay upright and not either sink in past my knees, skid head over heels on ice or get sucked down in the mud.

Such is spring in the Kootenays.

There are also good bits – like warmth. At eight degrees today, it was warm – much warmer than the same temperature on Vancouver Island. Why? Because there was no rain and the sun was shining. I mean – hiking without gloves or a hat and sweating under a light jacket. It is warm.

And now, sitting at my computer, the sun pouring in from all the south-facing windows, it’s almost as though we don’t need a fire. Still, it’s rather comforting and reassuring to have one.

We’ve been eating a lot of salads this winter, which is something I would never do on the island because it’s simply too cold. I always want hot meals to warm me up. Here, I’m happy to have a salad with my freshly baked sourdough bread. I think it’s actually become our favourite meal.

Getting out with the dogs today helped – so did my writing about hiking on Vancouver Island. But in the big picture, the only solution I can see for the corporate greed is to vote out the current government. Are there enough brave people to vote Green? I know we are making inroads – and we have to persevere. When there are people like my friend, Chris Istace, who are working hard with tourism and the Chamber of Commerce to preserve green spaces while creating win/win situations for everyone, there is reason to hope.

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Heartbroken

This – this beautiful trail – this is what clearcuts are destroying.

A week ago, I read that the trail up Mount Prevost form Bings Creek was closed – private land. No more hiking there, even though the trail has been well established for years with bridges fording the creek – and is a local favourite, especially the lower parts.

Then I saw a photo showing a massive clearcut. Where? I asked. CPR trail.

What? This trail?

Yes, the lower parts were clearcut – just. This is a designated biosphere – and the historic trail is protected. There was a long battle for this. But the logging company, instead of leaving at least a few metres buffer zone, cut right to the edge of the trail. It broke my heart to see those photos. A few years ago, the loggers had cut right to the edge of McBey Creek – which I don’t think is legal – but they did it.

That also broke my heart. But this – this is unthinkable.

Meanwhile, I watch the logging trucks and chipper trucks travel down the highway in front of our house – every few minutes, another load. It’s no better being here than there. Until the last tree is cut, they will take it away. Old growth, majestic living beings – they are killing them because they can, because they government condones and encourages it, and because there are too many humans who are so greedy they don’t care about the animals or the future generations.

And now science tells us that we are driving headlong into a brick wall of climate disaster and what are we doing about it? Nothing. Trump wants more drilling and more mining. We are building bigger cruise ships; we are helpless to contain the radioactive leak from Fukushima. Have you seen the photos of the radioactive salmon yet?

As a human species, we are creating extinction of other species, yes – but our greatest madness is creating our own extinction. And we are – thoughtlessly, without a care in the world, we are going to drive that car at high speed into the brick wall.

This has been eating at me for days. I don’t know what to do about it. I feel utterly helpless. I do my best in my own tiny sphere. And I know it’s not enough.

If I hear one more person talk about “the economy” I swear I will spit. We need a revolution if we want to save ourselves – and that starts with completely upending our economic model. People are starving while we throw away food. What is this madness?

I am heavy-hearted. I don’t know what to do.

I need the bliss of the alpine – the answers are always there. Only the Mother has answers. And we all need to listen.

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Pine Cone Inn

Well this was a slog – and in some ways, a bit of a hiking revelation.

First to the slog: we took three hours to snowshoe up 700 metres to Pine Cove Inn through heavy, wet snow on a road that was unrelenting in taking us uphill.

After three hours, at 1.30 p.m., we finally had lunch – in the glorious sun! Yes – first day of spring and sunshine and slogging uphill without jackets, gloves or toques. Pretty good!

Sheila and Ann are super nice people.

But I have a problem. They like to start at about 10.30 or 11 a.m. (at trailhead). For most hikers I’d say this seems wildly odd. I find it very hard. My energy is good in the mornings – as is that of pretty much every hiker I know – and I do like to hit the high point of a hike by 12.30 or 1 p.m. after anywhere from three – five hours hiking.

Starting that late doesn’t work for my particular rhythm. I will have to give serious consideration to hiking with them again. I really like them a lot – but really?

Next revelation – hiking on roads! Ugh! It violates one of the two primary reasons I hike. First and most important, I hike for beauty. I do. The beauty of the alpine – or huge trees – or rolling meadows – fills my senses and brings me to, what I call, a holy state of bliss. Hiking on a road is work. I do it only because I need to go outside and move my body.

My second reason for hiking is that I enjoy the achievement of arriving at my destination – hopefully a  mountain or ridge top. Too much of this hiking is – well let’s just go and then turn around.

For beauty, I can do that. When Sheila said today that if I want to hike in this part of the world, I’d better get used to roads even in the summer, I said I’d rather drive hours in any direction in order to avoid that. I will not do it. It takes all the joy away and makes me want to weep for the loss of something glorious.

And I realized something else too – and this is important, I think. Roads were never built for walking. That kind of relentless long, long up and (coming back) down, doesn’t work for how our bodies operate. Trails, on the other hand, meander with fits and starts and ups and sometimes downs – and with short switchbacks – sometimes an obstacle. Hiking trails allow the body to switch up what it’s doing rather than slogging on and on. They are kinder not to mention ever so much prettier.

I think of walking on a trail versus a road like driving a car on a six-lane expressway versus a country lane – huge difference in the experience.

And that’s my rant.

All that said, I loved being outdoors up in the mountains on the first day of spring; I loved coming home to a hot bubble bath and to a big fat kiss from the man I love.

Now planning an interesting day tomorrow – maybe a road trip!

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Cairn Creek snowshoe

Today was our “go and explore day.”

We had no final destination in mind – just a start point and let’s see what happens.

So – off to what I think is called Cairn Creek – not too far from home. We strapped on our snowshoes and headed off up the valley on crunchy, crusty snow that made the going pretty darn easy. Puppies came along, which made them happy. Well, it made Shanara happy. Abby would have been pleased to stay at home in a soft bed in front of a roaring fire eating pizza.

But, being the cruel doggie parents that we are, we made her come along.

My guess is that we did about 18 K over 6 hours and maybe 500 metres elevation. It was a long, slow rise through the valley. We crossed bear tracks (huge paws!) and elk tracks. They let us have a pretty good idea of how deep the snow was – very.

We eventually came to a switchback heading up. Yay! So up we went until near one pm – our turnaround time. We’d been going about 3.5 hours and it was time for lunch. So – lunch we did. We sat down on Simon’s Gore-tex jacket and enjoyed the sun – so yummy! For the first time in days, we had glorious sunshine. And it got warm enough to take off my jacket! Double yay!

After lunch we headed back. As might be expected, as the day warmed, the crust on the snow softened. Being somewhat lighter than Simon I was able to stay on top for the most part. Simon, however, had a slightly harder time of it, sinking in past his knees a LOT!

Maybe I shouldn’t have giggled quite as much as I did.

The poor pups sank in a lot too and they are both sore. I gave them extra food for being so very good.

It wasn’t my favourite hike – mostly in a valley – lots of scrub – on a road rather than single track. But, as Simon said, it was good to get out. Mostly, as I told Simon, I love that I’m able to share this with him. In all my years of hiking, Simon is the first person I have been able to share this love with – while I’m sharing love with him. We are in synch on so many things. So often when we are out in nature, we see the same things and find our thoughts travelling on the same paths.

This makes me feel truly blessed.

We’ve been together long enough now that there are many days that I take my current life for granted. And then I have days like today when I feel surges of gratitude and the deepest love.

Yes – I am blessed.

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