Silver Spray Cabin

It wasn’t plan A – but B was soooo much better.

I couldn’t really get too excited about doing the Plewman Ridge today, so yesterday I gave a shout-out to KMC – “Desperate to hike!”

Helen shouted back – come with us to Silver Spray!

Done!

And so I hiked with some of my favourite people: Chris, Helen and Al! And what a day we had! The sky was blue and not a puff of wind. Yes, we layered up pretty thoroughly for the first bit but the minute we stepped into the sun, we began peeling off. And up we went. We gained 1106 metres over 6 kilometres – so a pretty steady up. And the trail surprised me – it kept doing what I didn’t think it would. Certainly it got pretty snowy and a touch icy. I put on my mini-spikes for part of the hike. But the larches were gold against the backdrop of white and imposing granite peaks.

And then there we were at the cabin! What a setting! We would have continued to the ridge but were also concerned about freeze and thaw conditions so wisely headed back and arrived back at the trailhead about 6.5 hours after setting out.

Silver Spray is a gorgeous destination and it feels like a wonderful completion after Nicky and I were unable to do it on our first attempt. Just wish she could have been with us.

The company was awesome and I was in my place of bliss. Still am. It feels like it’s going to last for quite a while.

Talking with my friends today – telling them how blessed I am and how grateful I am for my life. Feeling magical in a place full of magic.

Bliss!

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Not as Expected

Today’s hike turned out a bit like my life: “Not as expected!”

It all started well enough: Nicky picked me up at 8 and off we went in the truck. I had two sets of directions – one started us off on South Fork Road and the other on Keen Road. We decided to follow the Keen Road instructions. Slight problem – we couldn’t seem to find a Keen Road. No matter – we had to drive into Kaslo anyway after the hike to fill up with gas so may as well do it on our way to the road. Besides, the gas station folks would know about Keen road – right?

We pulled up to the pump and the guy started filling. We both leapt out and asked about Keen Road – it turned out that the South Fork Road and Keen were one and the same. No problem. As we said, we had to fill up anyway. A slightly later start was fine.

And so I paid with my credit card and we went back to the truck – except that both doors were closed and, quite magically – locked! And yes – the keys were in the ignition.

Well then. Did the gas station have a magic door opener? Nope. But a tow truck could come and do that for $40. But wait! I have a BCAA membership and even have my membership card in the truck. Oh – by the way – how did the truck get locked? Nicky said it couldn’t possibly be her fault.

Okey dokey then. It was magic. We called BCAA using the service station phone because Nicky’s phone was in the truck. (of course). The automated system asked me for my BCAA membership number. Well – duh – it’s in the truck! I got a human voice and explained the dilemma. Sadly, they still had my old home number and address from Vancouver Island but they did manage to look me up by last name (whew!)

Fifteen minutes later the tow truck driver shows up on a motorcycle. Well – why not! And presto – we are ready to go. Okay, back to South Fork/Keen Road. And we’re there! Yay! It’s even a good road by Kootenay standards (our standards are very low).

Up we go until we see our first left as per instructions. We turn and go up – the road gets weird and narrow and there’s a big rock in the middle of it (boulder). We go a bit farther. We don’t feel good about the road. Besides, we turned at 6K and Ann said 8K – so we turn around with a bit of delicacy and go back. We continue on the other road until we get to between 9 and 10K – and the road gets icky and muddy. Not good. We decide this might not be a good idea and do another delicate turn.

Plan B – let’s go to Emerald Lake and go up to the ridge for lunch and then back down. I’ve been there once. I can find the way. I hope.

We get back to the highway, turn at Buchanan access and go up. All is good until we get to a fork in the road. Hmmmm – we go right. Another fork. Hmmm We go left. Soon the road ends. We turn – go back to the last fork take it over 9 bad waterbars. This isn’t right either. We go back to the first fork – there – that’s better. Now I feel confident. But at that point a truck comes toward us with a bunch of hunters inside. They ask where we’re going. We tell them and they say we have a very long way to go with several spurs. I know that they’re wrong. But then they tell us there’s another hunter up there.

We turn back – not wanting to be shot at.

It is now almost noon and Nicky is so done with driving on these shitty – um – I mean Kootenay roads. We go to Payne Bluffs, hike to the top in just over half an hour, have lunch and go home.

There – that was the day.

Not as expected. Or planned.

But I did get to have a short nap and a long bubble bath. And there’s a warm fire going and the puppies were happy that I got home early. And tomorrow I’ll make up for it – driving down to Rossland and hiking for as long and hard as I can stand it.

Every day is an adventure of some sort, right? It’s not what happens in life, it’s how you react to it. I think I’m going to choose to giggle about it. After all, we did tell some very good “the time I got deathly drunk” stories on the way back down Payne Bluffs. Those alone were worth the trip. (I think Nicky wins in the drunk category, if only for the mouthing-off bits!)

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In The Flow

I’ve written two short stories in two days. The best thing about that is that I’m really happy with what I’m producing. I have entered some kind of flow – some sort of creative groove that extends past the story itself. It’s there, sitting inside me all day long. Ideas come – so many of them I don’t even bother writing them down or trying to keep mental track of them.

This is the place in my writing – this place where I am right now – that I have been aspiring to forever.

The process is rather delightful. As soon as I’ve finished writing a story, my mind begins to go through files of ideas – lights on one or two, begins to develop them – and then settles on the next one.

At that point I sort of let it go. Then I sit in front of my computer and as I’m scrolling through Facebook or news sites, whole sentences pop up – beginnings, endings – and suddenly it’s complete in my head. Then I get madly excited to write it down. And I start – my fingers fly on the keyboard. (you don’t want to know about the massive amount of typos!).

And then it’s done – four or five or however many pages later, I have a story. And the completion feels good but almost immediately, there’s new excitement about what comes next because, at that point, I don’t know what the next one will be.

I get surprised by the topics I pick. And I like that.

So – today has been and continues to be immensely peaceful and fine. A morning walk with the dogs, a truly amazing sale at the local VPO, writing, and now baking bread.

I am beginning to think about what to do with my stories.

I am not going to let them sit idle in a file on my computer. I believe in them.

Oh yes – more excitement – hiking tomorrow. A new trail to explore! Yay!

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Gwillim Lakes

Last year, on my birthday in September, Simon and I decided we needed to experience the real beauty of our new home in the Kootenays – hence a hike to Gwillim Lakes. It was a grey, forbidding day and we were the only people on the trail. Despite the lowering clouds and the quick, chilly lunch at the lakes before heading back, we were entranced. This was a place of power and beauty!

So this year, we chose to go back to Gwillim Lakes to celebrate our second anniversary. Once again, we were the only ones on the trail but unlike last year, the weather was magnificent. We had bluebird skies and in the sun, the temperatures easily reached 20 degrees.

Every bit of this hike is magic. There’s no forest to slog through before reaching subalpine and alpine terrain. The views open up almost instantly and then, before you know it, you’re standing on the edge of Drinnon Lake – gorgeous. And then, more lakes and mountains, and a valley and a high pass and you are deposited in the Gwillim Lakes Basin – stunning and staggering are words that don’t do it justice. As Simon said, he hasn’t experienced quite this feeling since Mount Robson.

Yesterday, there was no need to gobble down lunch and head back down. Instead, we walked to the end of the last lake. And when I said that I’d like to hike up to the pass ahead of us, Simon agreed! Well, it turned out that the trail was a good switchback that didn’t toss us out at a pass but instead, to our surprise and delight, brought us to an upper lake in a perfect mountain bowl.

More superlatives! And then, of course, the views down into the basin were gobsmacking to say the least. I took 126 photos. That tells you something about how gorgeous it was.

We had lunch, did some snogging, said “I love you” several dozen times and agreed – best anniversary ever! Heck – best day ever!

The hike back was as packed with beauty as the one up. The autumn foliage was sunlit and presented as much beauty as spring flowers – perhaps even more.

All this magic – and we had it all to ourselves.

We’ll be back for camping next time. There is a good deal more here that we want to explore and when we’re done with exploring, I can’t think of many finer places to just sit and stare. (Simon will say that I won’t be able to sit longer than 5 seconds. Ahem – there’s a small chance he could be right)

quick data – hiking time – 7 hours; elevation – about 1300 metres; distance – just shy of 13K.

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Happy Anniversary to Us

There it is – the first “Simon and me” selfie! The occasion? Our second anniversary! The place? The top lake at Gwillim Lakes! Heck, I didn’t even know there was an upper lake until Simon and I arrived at the basin and decided (I decided, he agreed) to explore higher up to what I thought was a pass – it turned out to be another basin with unbelievable views and a gorgeous hidden lake reminiscent of Crypt in Waterton.

What a place for lunch and a bit of snogging.

All day, we celebrated our two years together, starting with the morning when Simon received two pairs of hiking socks (a totally appropriate anniversary gift) and Simon gifted me with the warmest slippers ever! and another wholly appropriate gift – an ice axe!!!! I own an ice axe!!!

I am beyond excited about this!

And then – seven hours at Gwillim Lakes under bluebird skies and temps in the twenties. Best of all – we had the whole place to ourselves.

At any rate, I only took 126 photos so watch this space for a photo-filled blog tomorrow. Right now, I have to drink champagne and play drunken Scrabble.

Priorities!

Thanks so much to the beautiful and amazing Nicky for letting the puppies out!

We are so blessed – with beauty and friends and a life where we have each other to love.

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Dennis Basin

How do you spell perfection? D E N N I S  B A S I N. Yes – a perfect day for many reasons.

First – the place. Nicky and I have loved Dennis Basin right from the start – that first smoky day hike when we barely passed the col. Then we really fell in love with it when we went back and hiked to the summit cairn on the west ridge – and scoped out the other ridges and hiking possibilities (tons!). And then today – up the east ridges, which involved a fair amount of up and down, some of it with a bit of frost and snow on the ground – but the views! Oh my! Heart-stopping and ultimately – just plain blissful!

Or, as Nicky would say, “exquisite!”

At the end of the far ridge, looking down into the bowl and across at the south ridge, we mapped out the next hike up here: down the ridge, into the bowl, follow the draw to a broad saddle and then up the south ridge, hiking to the end, then back to the saddle and across to the original col where we came up. Yup – can hardly wait to do it!

Imagine – this amazing place is right in our back yard.

Okay – other awesome things about today – the company. Always the company. Tammy came and she’s wonderful and Krista joined us for the first time. Two big thumbs up on Krista. Not only is she kind and wonderful and just plain amazing and nice – but (here’s the real point – hehe) – she takes even more photos than Nicky and I! I love finding people who hike for the beauty and for the soul food of the alpine. Yup – another perfect member of the Silverton Gang!

I’m still basking in bliss.

And tomorrow is Simon’s and my second anniversary! How else could we possibly celebrate other than a hike – this time to Gwillim Lakes where we hiked last year on my birthday. It’s perfect! And bless Nicky: she’s going to let the puppies out halfway through the day!

I also have a bottle of champagne in the fridge for after the hike. So if I don’t post a blog tomorrow, you have a pretty good idea why.

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Wanting to write

Life now seems to be getting in the way of wanting to write. I mean really – how did I ever carve out time for work? Let’s take today, for instance: up early (what else is new?) and immediately – start the sourdough bread, three loads of laundry, clean bathroom and vacuum – Nadine and Nicky arrive and haircutting begins while I’m doing laundry and bread. That done, I finish vacuuming and it’s time for lunch! Really? What happened to the morning?

Okay – lunch – a very short nap and more working on bread. Then take the dogs for a walk and shopping. I no sooner get home and it’s time to feed the dogs, put things away and gather veggies from the garden for tonight’s dinner – stopping to pull weeds along the way. And you know what? It’s 4.30 and I have still not written a word!

This would be acceptable if I was hiking because, as we all know, hiking is just as important as writing – but all I’ve been doing is “stuff!”

Whew!

Not to mention that I’m writing a blog. Oh hey! There’s an idea! Stop writing the blog and start actually writing! You know – trip reports, short stories – writing-type writing.

Disciplined – yes I am – here I go….

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