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By Thursday, youd have thought people would know better than to pack it in at lunch. But despite the group all being pretty strong skiers, the 100k of vertical wed notched so far in the week left enough campers convinced the gentle ministrations of Werner and Russell the lodges masseurs were preferable to pushing their jellied legs any further. Enough of them left to reduce the groups to three. Pity that. Because what happened the rest of the afternoon left those of us who took part in it with memories well dredge up until we simply stop remembering anything at all.
Heliski vets might opine at length about the advantages of January or February trips, the copious dumps of downy fluff topping their list of arguments. But one thing you can be sure of in April the days are longer. Climbing into the chopper around cocktail hour, Dave Gully, our day-one guide reprising his role, looked at me and grinned. "Goin home," he said.
What the hell? I could use a tall, frosty drink. Goin home didnt sound so bad even though we still had enough light for another run or two and at least one of my quad muscles still worked.
Gord seemed to practice his aerobatics on the trip home, just topping notched ridges and dropping in near-weightlessness down into the precipice on the other side, banking hard enough to offer unique views of treetops and generally scaring the bejesus out of us. Nice to see a man who enjoys his work. In the pitch and yaw it almost didnt register we were crossing the Canoe River valley upstream of the lodge.
Then the penny dropped. Going Home. Were not going home; were going to ski Going Home.
Meanwhile, back at the lodge, the radio crackled with the news. The lodges PA system hummed to life. The announcement was made. "Theyre skiing Going Home."
The skiers whod gone back early didnt grasp the meaning of the announcement. The staff did. Cooks wiped their hands, turned temperatures down to idle and headed for the deck. Last round was called at the bar. Massages were brought to a premature conclusion. Laundry was left unfolded. The buzz was palpable and the guests knew from the staffs reaction something was up.
So did the guides. You could feel Daves excitement, hear it in Johnnys voice over the radio.
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