A Sea to Sky backcountry adventure

Whistler Naturalists

Continued from last week.

Day 3, Friday, Sept. 17

I woke up puzzled and happy because it was still dark, thinking the night was being forgiving, that was until I heard "the Rooster’s" voice outside my tent chirping "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!" I groaned in realization and kicked the wall of our tent in frustration, which caused a mini avalanche and allowed the dull morning light to fill the tent. The dullness was a result of thick, white fog that invaded our valley and which caused us to stay put for a while.

Slowly, in the morning gloom, a village emerged. We built a communal shelter with my bright orange tarp between the doors of our three tents. Under the tarp we boiled water to make soup and tea to warm our bellies, and to create water bottles to stick in our jackets, boots and sleeping bags. My feet were freezing cold, as the one pair of wool socks I had brought were now drenched and frosty and felt as heavy as bricks in my boots.

As noon rolled around the clouds began to clear, unveiling hopeful, brilliant blue sky. The change in the weather renewed our energy and we decided to move on. The day was short but strenuous and clumsy; we hiked across slippery side hills of sad yellow grass and a labyrinth of krumholtz.

Finally we reached our fairytale ending: a tiny waterfall nestled in a rolling hill, framed by a miniature rainbow. The night was clear, sharp and cold; I dozed off to the lullaby of a tiny creek singing as it ran down the hill back to civilization without us.

Day 4, Saturday, Sept. 18

I woke up to frozen boots and a cold, cramped body. Getting out of my sleeping bag was like jumping out of a sauna and into a frozen lake.

We hiked for three hours, fighting the stubborn weather, until we decided to call it a day. We set up camp, warmed our bellies with soup and did some work in our logbooks. We scavenged all the dry kindling we could find and built a fire and then sat around it listening and laughing to the guides’ stories of mountaineering and to William’s entertaining stories of his days in the military. Darkness caved in on us, early as usual, and we retreated to our tents.

Day 5, Sunday, Sept. 19

Visions of the van, dry feet and fresh fruit were taunting me. This could potentially be our last day; too bad it was still grey. It is hard to stay motivated when your world is grey and isolated but I had to remember to fake it until I made it.

We decided we would return to the van today, but beforehand we’d do a quick hike up Chipmunk Mountain. As we began our ascent, magically the clouds cleared and shared with us a priceless view. From the top of the ridge we could see our campsite from two nights previous, and below that an untouched green valley with a pristine creek dancing down the middle.

Seeing our entire trip from that peak, I realized how simple life can be if you just take a deep breath and look through the fog and confusion to the true beauty beneath.

After bush whacking uphill for two hours and prancing back down, we finally reached our trusty white van. By this point, we were all comfortable with our eau de natural cologne, our slicked greasy hair and for some of us, our mossy teeth. As we rode away bumpity bump back down the logging road. we looked over our shoulders longingly at the majestic mountains towering over the horizon, sighing serenely and thinking "until we meet again old friends."

Upcoming Events:

Monthly Bird Walk — The next bird walk will take place on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2005. Join Whistler experts in the monthly update of our feathered locals and migrants. For details, contact Michael Thompson 604-932-5010.

Alien Worlds — Search for other Earths & Vacation under the stars from around the Globe with local astronomer John Nemy as part of the Naturalists Spearker Series. Tuesday, Jan. 18?? at Millennium Place. Whistler Astronomy Club meet at 7 p.m. (Contact Don Brett 604-907-1234 for info). John Nemy presentation at 7:30 p.m. (Contact Kristina 604-935-7665 for info).

Calling all Aspiring Nature Writers and Photographers — Have an interest in natural history? Want to educate others about your favourite flora and/or fauna? Write your very own Naturespeak article or send us your photos to accompany our articles. For more information contact Sorcha Masterson at 604-894-1759 or

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