Winter Hike up McKirdy Mountain, Valemount, Canada
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.
Apr 01, 2015 @ 04:29:05
Amazing photos! And ‘back in the day’, no one would have batted an eye at letting the kids ‘play’ like that…Thankfully, my kids got some of that kind of freedom and we hope to expose our grandson to the same freedom! Great that you and mom got time together!
Apr 01, 2015 @ 08:28:30
Thank you! Although I don’t have a mountainside behind me, I try to let my kids be adventurous.
Apr 01, 2015 @ 05:02:18
How lovely! The mukluks sound amazing!!! So now I need to know where to get some b/c my feet are always FREEZING in the snow.
Apr 01, 2015 @ 08:22:09
The only problem is that it has to be a fair bit below freezing, otherwise the snow melts and your feet get wet. But I wonder if there is some sort of rubber over thingy, like the Russian boots with felt lining, that would work. The feet have so much more movement in soft shoes that they keep themselves warm.
Apr 01, 2015 @ 21:30:19
Adrienne, you could try Manitobah Mukluks as they have a rubber bottom.
Apr 02, 2015 @ 00:06:26
Those are really really nice, and I’m trying to not need them…Thanks for the link!
Apr 02, 2015 @ 03:44:08
Naomi, you didn’t mention that the moccasins pictured that you were wearing belonged to your great grandfather and have been jealously hidden away in my closet for the last 30 years and it is a reflection of your status and my affection that you were allowed to wear them!
Apr 02, 2015 @ 10:34:10
I didn’t want to make anyone jealous 🙂 Although I didn’t know that you had jealously hidden them for 30 years. I really am honoured. I’m a full on moccasin fan, due to experience made possible by you with your mukluks and moccasins.
Apr 03, 2015 @ 01:05:47
What nice footwear you have on! I would overlook and buy everyday hiking boots as they look very light and not warm enough to my unschooled eye. BTW, interesting photos on your flickr page.
Apr 03, 2015 @ 11:19:21
Yes, they were my great-grandfather’s moccasins. They protect your feet but leave them loose and free for warmth and movement. Not too good on asphalt, but very light.
Apr 06, 2015 @ 22:59:56
I mean, because your foot has more freedom to move, it therefore stays warmer. And there are two pairs of wool socks under the leather. I don’t remember from before when I wore the mukluks, but this time it was a little cooler if I stood in one place for too long, but that could have been because it was too warm for them (about 0-2C) and the snow was melting a little as I stood there.
Apr 05, 2015 @ 06:58:47
Breathtaking, Naomi! Reminds me (a little) of going up Dave Henry with your family. Your photography is stunning. You have such a gift!
Apr 06, 2015 @ 22:56:33
Thank you. That was such a great trip, and one I want to do again!
Apr 05, 2015 @ 19:47:58
Sounds like the perfect hike, and your photography is gorgeous!
Apr 06, 2015 @ 22:54:08
I realized after posting that I didn’t write about how amazing it is to be up there. The silence, but for the wind and one’s own footsteps and breath. The stillness. It was perfect. Thank you!
May 08, 2015 @ 05:09:30
I enjoyed reading your account Naomi. And your photos! It’s hard to capture the beauty that is present there, but you come close to doing that.
May 10, 2015 @ 09:31:22
Thank you! I had a patient hiking partner who didn’t mind frequently stopping as I tried to capture it all.
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