I wasn’t expecting to get to Canada this year, but in February I made a quick unplanned visit to be together with my extended family. Given that it takes two days to travel one way from Slovakia to the middle of nowhere Canada, I didn’t have much time but was still hoping to get above treeline.
My mom and I did make it up, and I couldn’t have asked for a better companion. We frequently paused along the trail as we got into conversation, solving all the problems of the world.
We went up McKirdy Mountain, and while I have showed pictures and shared memories of my favourite place in the the world before, it was in the summer.
We hadn’t planned on stopping at Hermit Thrush Cabin, but when one of the lenses in my glasses fell out, we traipsed over to tape them back together. That red Tuck Tape has some seriously sticky qualities, and is oh-so-sexy for repairing glasses.
We took a look at the guest book, and this entry from my eldest aunt caught our eyes:
“…I have been revisiting old sites and old memories. I first came here, to the lake, 54 years ago – 1960. [Five of us] looked up at the mountain one lovely summer day longing to hike the mountain. We were ages 10, 11, and 12.[My cousin] had been up to the lake with his dad the summer before, so he was our guide. There was no trail of any kind. We put together a few supplies, an axe, and tea pail, a bit of food, one blanket rolled up with a string around it, one sleeping bag rolled up with two belts to strap it to my shoulders (not a decent pack among us) and set out from the house. I remember crawling up through the alders and buck brush that sloped down hill toward us. Looking at the sky line thinking we were nearly there, but it went on and on. “Are you sure this is the right way?” Amazingly [my cousin] did have a sense of the right direction, because after 5 1/2 hours we did arrive at the lake.
We built a fire and made a brush bed. No tent. It was a cold night and I don’t think any of us slept very well. Some of us got diarrhea and we ran out of toilet paper. We hiked up to the meadows in the morning and then headed down (a different way)…”
They were 10, 11, and 12. I love it. To modern parent ears it sounds terribly dangerous, five young kids on a mountain side without an adult. I wasn’t much older the first time I went up the mountain ‘unsupervised’, two of us were 13 and my sister 11, but having a trail makes all the difference in the world, to my mind.
I was planning on wearing hiking boots, but when we went to leave they had mysteriously disappeared. I’m a huge fan of winter hiking in moccasins/mukluks. I’ve hiked all day in -40C/F with three pairs of wool socks in mukluks, and my toes were toasty warm the entire time.
More photos on Flickr.