Author Archives: traversethecoast

Post Trip Reflections


It’s been a couple of years since we set in motion our ambitious plan to Traverse The Coast mountains of BC and Alaska.  I wanted to share a write up I did for MEC after our trip was all wrapped up.  I’ve been hearing whispers of other groups making plans to head out into the Coast Range for their own extended traversing ambitions.  It would be an added bonus to our trip if we inspired another group to transit the range by means of human power.  We received the gift of inspiration from a group who made the trip over a decade before us so we would be in essence just passing the torch or inspiration along. Here is a link to the route we travelled.  The only significant gap in our trip was the section of mountains between the Skeena and Nass rivers.  One of these years I would like to return to the section of trail we did not attempt.  

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

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Terrace to Wrangell, AK


Winter wonderland had left for another year and that was an un-ignorable fact for us in Terrace as we contemplated our approach to the remaining coast mountains north of us. Warm air creating unstable air formed thunderstorms which washed away the snow at an incredible rate. Once again we would have to adapt to the hills and their seasons, just like the Billy Goat sheds its fur and the Rock Ptarmigan changes it’s camouflage.
The hard decision to hitch hike ahead just over 100km had to be made as the mountain conditions were far less than favorable immediately north of Terrace so our self propelled journey would have to continue after a day of “hitch” hiking to the abandoned town of Kitsault(www.kitsault.com). We were fortunate to receive a warm welcome from Kitsault’s neighbor town across the bay, Alice Arm. Wray, Brenda, Hank and Sandy were super friendly locals who took us in for a couple days. We certainly didn’t need more down time from traversing but they were just such nice people we couldn’t say no to their company and hospitality. This was the start of what is known as the Boundary ranges of the Coast Mountains. The character of these mountains seems to be more heavily glaciated with the existence of incised canyons or gulches as are sometimes labeled on the map. However these canyons don’t always appear on the topographic maps which was very intimidating for us because sometimes we would have to detour quite far from our ideal path just to get across a small stream. Since we aren’t following any trails or known travel routes most of the time it felt as though we were hoping and praying our route would work out and we wouldn’t have to back track to substantially. A common theme for people that are lost is to get far to low into creeks and drainages often ending in waterfalls with no hope of climbing back out the way they came. I kept repeating the mantra “they always go to water to die” again and again to remind myself to stay high whenever possible. Crossing the Cambria Icefield was quite easy as the spring snow had set-up to be quite firm giving us fast walking conditions. Before we knew it we were back in the world of the trees and Mosquitos. Walking the highway into Stewart I noticed an Alaskan Amber Ale in the ditch. Sure enough it had its cap on. I yelped in excitement and asked the others to gather round and listen for crack of the cap. It was still good and tasted even better. Then I found another and another. In retrospect I don’t think my blood alcohol level dipped below this point for the entirety of our brief stay in town. Whatever clean Livin was going on in those hills we wanted none of it while we were in town. Our host Ryan Boyle made us feel right at home serving us Irish whiskey on glacier ice.
Our friend Chris Ho joined us in town originally planning to ski with us over the Franck Mackie Glacier. Chris doesn’t yet have a packraft so our amended route plan down the Bowser River meant Chris could just join us for a night at the Happy Valley Cabin. Not long after launching we realized how strong the spring freshet was. The full force of the river was unleashed in a raging brown frothing mass. Eddy’s were few to none and the river was full of debris. Infact 5 minutes after pulling out we witnessed a massive bank collapse that totally diverted the flow of the river. This firmed our decision to walk the river instead of risking a lengthy swim without dry suits and helmets and for that matter bankalanche transceivers.
There is alot of precious metals in this section of coast mountains meaning there ain’t notin that ain’t bin prospected in this neighborhood. One operation that invited us in for lunch called Bruce Jack is touted by locals to have the biggest gold deposit around. Judging by all the multimillion dollar machines they have running around on the glacier roads and a state of the art 150 person camp built I would say they have probably found a bit of the shiny yellow rock. Soon we would be off of the Glaciers for good. The Unuk river was another example of a tremendous canyon we had to cross. Not wanting to take any chances on finding a suitable place to cross we skirted its headwaters. We saw our first moose, grizzly bear, black bear and a family of Goats within a couple days of each other which was the most wildlife than we had seen all trip.
Our reception to the Eskay Creek mine was quite friendly as we ran into two friends Chris Ho and Eric Ridington doing some weather station maintenance in the area. The folks maintaining the now abandoned mine invited us in for diner and said they didn’t want us camping in the area as they had a mating pair of grizzly bears in the area and the male didn’t like competition, So hot showers and fresh sheets in a warm bed seemed to be the only compromise. The next day they drove us beyond the grizzly bears to what we all assumed would be a safe spot. It wouldn’t be 20 minutes longer before I would come face to face with a snorting, swearing, vein pounding man by the name of Bill Leonard. He introduced himself by asking where the Fuck we came from. I started to explain but he wasn’t interested in the answer to the question he asked. I tried to explain to him that we are travelers passing through with plans to float the Iskut river. He starts stating that he owns all this land and that we cannot pass through so that our only option is to get in the back of the Mounties squad car that he just called. I desperately try to reason with him asking if he could just look at the map’s with us we would gladly skirt around his supposed property. The situation turned quite ugly when he started personally insulting me. I raised my voice to match his and that is when he charged at me with his fists clenched. I have not been in a physical fight since my teenage years so it is not something I can say I was ready for. I just stood there, an easy target strangely loose ready for the imminent blow to my chin. I am so thankfull that at the last possible moment he stopped his attack pausing for what seemed an eternity nose to nose chin to chin eyes locked. Adrenaline pounding I felt a mix of rage and sorrow for this pathetic man. In his tiny world intimidation and fear is how he gets what he wants. We are different beasts after Nearly 5 months of living with adversity everyday his affect was moot on us. The situation ended by him getting back into his Alta Gas company truck and peeling out spraying us with as much dirt at us as he could. We would later here that the Native Tahltan people of the area originally pronounced the river as Iskoot meaning “river that steals mens souls”. That gave me the best explanation to this awfull situation as I guess I could hope for. Bill Leonard is an empty man the river had claimed him. My opinion of the Talhtan people is esteemed. I have always viewed them as protectors of the land in regards to their fights against coal bed methane and the red chris mine. On a previous trip in the area I was taken on a moose hunt as elders shared with me there traditions and stories. Continuity being very important to them and story telling being the assurance of continuities in their culture. I want them to know what a monster they have partnered with in “Clean Energy”. So it went we passed by their mega projects and launched our boats in the lower reaches of the Iskoot canyon despite Mr. Leonards empty threats. Keeping the oral tradition alive we wanted to give warning to everyone down stream of what was going on up river. Trappers, fisherman, locals, tourists and now the readers of this blog. The Northwest Transmission Line (NWTL) is a major installment in B.C’s north. Ground truthings definition is to travel the land and see what is happening as opposed to what is supposed to be happening. We have seen the NWTL from its start in Kemano traveling through the Nass valley to it’s Terminus in Bob Quinn. Speculators say that eventually the line will be carried into Alaska. With the doubling of Kemano’s output the Forest Kerr, McLymont creek, Volcano creek, and Long Lakes Premier facility all coming online in the near future all this power is going to have to go somewhere and Bob Quinn, B.C population 50 doesn’t seem like it needs all that power. Green energy is a term that is now lost on me.
So our trip came to an end in Wrangell, Alaska which was 4-6 weeks short of our intended destination of Skagway. Our groups dynamic had changed for the worse. Amongst us we had an insiders language of using British accents when things were jolly and fantastic. When we weren’t having a smashing time the accents were dormant. We hadn’t talked about the queen in weeks or even had a proper cup of tea. We all knew we had outworn each others company. It seems that in trying to talk about this trip with people everyone wants to know how much suffering we endured. Nothing was harder for me than to see our group unable to communicate effectively to the point where we were useless at decision making. What brought us such strength at one time was now our undoing. It wasn’t that hard to stop the trip pre-maturely and get back to our separate lives because the price of continuing was more than anyone wanted to invest to see it through. Upon reaching home I realized how bad things were when I picked up a brochure on depression and I matched all the criteria.
1. Feelings of sadness
2. Noticeable loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
3. Significant weight loss
4. Difficulty sleeping
5. Lack of interest or concern about what’s going on around you.
6. Feelings of restlessness
7. No energy
8. Feelings of worthlessness
9. Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
10. Unexplained aches or pains
11. Do your symptoms last most of the day?
12. Do you experience your symptoms nearly every day?
13. Have you been experiencing your symptoms for at least 2 consecutive weeks.
14. Have you found that your symptoms have interfered with or impaired your ability to take part in or carry out, Social activities, work activities, family activities, other activities in day to day life.
Will all that to stomach I can honestly say being off the trip I am doing much much better.
I have had only a few people that I have idolized in my life. John Clark the coastal mountain explorer is one of them. He would consequlivly spend up to half a year in the mountains year after year after year. Alot of that time was solo and I now I see why. Group dynamics can be extremely tenuous and require alot of maintenance. This trip was a trip of a lifetime. To be associated with such strong mountain travelers and to have all the support from family, friends and people along the way was truly a blessing. The time has now come to move onto life’s other challenges whatever they may be. My simple hope in writing this blog was to share our triumphs and failures and to document our experience of living in the mountains for a long time. To you I say get out there and do something not because it is easy but because it is hard, your going to learn a few things. Thanks for tuning into my blog you can watch my video from the last leg of our journey here. http://vimeo.com/70259850
Here is a link to our route which you can view in google earth. https://www.dropbox.com/s/suv6o0r68yr2nf2/TraverseTheCoast.kmz

“A mountain is the best medicine for a troubled mind. Seldom does man ponder his own insignificance. He thinks he is master of all things. He thinks the world is his without bonds. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Only when he tramps the mountains alone, communing with nature, observing other insignificant creatures about him, to come and go as he will, does he awaken to his own short-lived presence on earth.” – Finis Mitchell

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The Final Leg


This will be the last update from the field as this traversing crew makes plans to pull out at the next port ahead by July 10: Wrangell, AK. We have been on the trail for quite some time now, answering only to the call of the wild. Unfortunately, that time is drawing to an end as the call of jobs and responsibility is now becoming ever louder. It seems like only a short time ago we were taking our first steps up the logging road leaving Pitt Lake in Southern B.C. Today, as we were hiking through a beautiful alpine landscape, we talked about what this trip has given us and if we can be satisfied with where it has taken us.

As a group we feel honoured to have had the opportunity in our lives to undertake such a trip as this. The people we have met in towns along the way and the friends and family at home who have enabled us to keep on going are truly at the centre of our thoughts. This trip was a break from our normal lives, and I speak for all of us when I say we are ready to get back to our lives with new passion and appreciation.

Tune back here in a couple of weeks when we wrap things up and come up with a summary for all you folks out there. For now, our route will take us into the Iskut river from where where we hope to hop back in our trail boats and float down the Stikine river and back into civilization.

Thanks to the kind folks at the Eskay Creek mine for putting us up for the evening. We enjoyed their stories as much as they enjoyed hearing some of ours.

Until next time amigos. Over and out.

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North to Alaska


Thanks Stewart. It’s been a blast. We are heading out today for Hyder Alaska with Chris Ho. Thanks to Ryan and Erin Boyle for being the essential local connection here in town. Thanks too to Jackie for hanging out with us grizzly mountain folk and sharing the local stories with us!!

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End of Leg 3: Bella Coola to Terrace


Into and out of the Kitimat Ranges

Greetings from the traverse crew! We’ve been luxuriating in Terrace B.C. since our arrival from Bella Coola last week and are now about to human-propel ourselves to Stewart, which we will reach in 7-10 days.

With sad faces and full bellies we left Bella Coola and our new friends, Andrew and Sarah, and Duncan and Meghan, and took our first steps, or strokes, in our packrafts through Dean Channel and along Cascade Inlet. As we paddled alongside Pacific white-sided dolphins, we lazed in hot springs and gazed in wonder at petroglyphs and countless magnificent waterfalls. From the head of the inlet, we jumped right back into the mountain setting, where, after months of traversing, we feel at home.

As we descended from the mountains, the Kitlope River awaited. This was an important destination to me, as I had wanted to explore and witness firsthand the largest continuous tract of coastal rainforest in the world. Travelling the land as we have been doing for the past four months, we have become all too aware of the fact that are precious few places left where we humans have not had a destructive presence. Thanks to BC Parks, the Haisla people of Kitimat have protected this area from destruction so that future generations might have an understanding of wilderness. We feel blessed to have experienced it.

Then, three weeks into this section of our trip, our eyes fell downcast upon a massive blight: Kemano, an industrial development project built to service Alcan’s massive hydroelectric project, which energizes an aluminum smelter in Kitimat. Currently, Rio-Tinto Alcan is boring a second tunnel, which will increase smelter capacity by fifty percent. However, as the project pulls water from the Nechacko Reservoir, (a major tributary of the Fraser river) environmentalists are concerned as reduced flows along the Nechako River cause water temperature rises in the Fraser River, affecting salmon runs. As well, the Kemano project diverts the river’s snowmelt water through a mountain range and releases it into the ocean, bypassing salmon spawning grounds. This was a heavily contested project back in the 1990s, and the NDP government at the time rejected the expansion. Now, it is back with some changes, and in the face of projects like Enbridge and liquid natural gas plants, Kemano almost pales in comparison. That says a lot about the direction we are headed in conserving our environment.

Our plan was to pass through Kemano, and although we wrote countless letters to Kemano corporate affairs, they refused to grant us access on our human-powered journey. So, we hopped over it in a plane with Nick Hawes from Lakes District Air and started our ski traverse on the shores of Tahtsa Lake. For the following weeks, we had a new companion; a wolverine, whose fresh tracks paralleled ours everyday. We even had a close encounter one morning as it shuffled by our camp. Between bouts of never-ending rain, we had views of the Pacific Ocean and the interior plateau in this narrow section of the Coast Mountains. The rain, caused by this season’s unstable air masses, was a constant issue, once leaving us tent bound for a week and severely shortening our travel windows to grab moments between whiteouts and thunderstorms. Taking forced breaks was not so bad, but left us with hollow feelings, as what little remained of the winter snowpack disappeared into the adjacent rivers.

Eventually, the mountains gave way to logging roads and we reached Clore Creek and my beaming bride-to-be, Bridget. Terrace and civilization beckoned. Once there, the wonderful Collette and Duncan Stewart family took us in. Home cooking! However, Erica received news about a family emergency and headed to Arkansas to be with them. While we waited for her return, we debated how to continue because the mountains seemed to be quite barren of snow. Rallying some local skiers, we brainstormed how to travel through this now summery landscape. Erica has now returned and we are again about to step out into lands as-yet unknown—at least to us. For now, we say goodbye to the glaciers we have come to love.

Thanks to all in Terrace, including Guido, who teased us with a protest against traversing while we were here, chanting “Terrace townies are up and downies” and “This ski traverse is perverse.” His issues with ski traversing fell on compassionate ears as we pledged to return to the Terrace mountains to do some ‘real’ (aka downhill) skiing. We leave Terrace with bodies strong and minds inspired to send some more wilderness!

If you love our planet and our glaciers as much as we do, click here to have a look at a wonderful website by Matt Beedle, a Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions  Graduate Fellow and a PhD candidate at the University of Northern British Columbia. As well, James Blalog’s TED presentation is a must watch. Finally, I have strung together some videos of our trip from the past 5 weeks. The first is a video of some visuals I strung together of our journey. These are also some reviews of our gear that has failed: Arc’teryx Arrakis 65L BackpackDynafit Speed Radical 10 bindings and Exped 7UL sleeping mat.

Our thanks to everyone who is supporting us and who we met including:
Bridget Mcclarty
Dale Douglas@ Tyax Air
Nick Hawes @ Lakes District Air
Jonas Hoke, Chief Meteorologist
Nicole Koshure, our weather girl
Tim Blair
Jia Condon
Matty Richard
Ian “Cheddar” Watson
Jeff Rabinovitch
James Retty & The Escape Route
Irene Isacs
Andrew & Sarah in Bella Coola
Grant in Bella Coola
Norm and Denice Bougie
Lee Lau
Nirvana Pass ski crew
Mountain Equipment Co-Op
Julia Fesenko @ Inreach
Air Blaster Ninja Suits
Red Shed’s (Williams Lake)
Staff &friends@Tweedsmuir Lodge
Jasmin Dobson
Dave Treadway
Jon Johnston
Whistler Blackcomb
Tracey “Trix” Kindrachuck
Rod Gee
Lena Rowat
Chris Michalak
Chris Ho
Erin and Ryan Boyle
Wayne Flann
Marcus Waring
Lorne Graham
Tim Smith
Michael Coyle
Jamie Bond
Jerome David
Leonard Maloney
Meghan Cornish & Duncan
Clarence @ Tsayta Air
Neil Mueller
Bobbi and Earl @ Pitt Lake Water Taxi
Eric Hoji & Jen Ashton
Sam @ Surefoot Whistler
Mike King @ Whitesaddle Air
Sarah Heck
Sarah Schoen
Jeff Crompton
Neil Waggoner
Jeremy Wood
Shasta McNasta
Whitney Rapp
Kristy Deyong
Andor Tari @ Sage Advice
Sky & Garret @ Talheo Lodge
Collette & Duncan Stewart
Maureen
Guido, Matt and Lazlo who came out to share their local mountain knowledge

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Terrace


We have made it to Terrace. We would like to invite any outdoor enthusiasts to get together tonight June 8th to talk about our trip so far and where we are going from here. Ryanbougie@me.com location and time TBD.

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End of Leg 2


“Poets try and take something abstract, like an idea, and make it concrete, whereas admirers of mountains try to take something huge made of rock and ice and snow and turn it into an abstraction they can carry around in their minds, a mental key chain for a place that is hard to get to but gorgeous to think about.”

Ian Brown, who wrote that piece in the Globe and Mail, made no mention of the people who occupy the middle ground between poets and mountain admirers, people I have come to know as “Traversers”. Traversers take an idea, like a route on a map, and make it concrete by traveling, or traversing, through it. We are modern day explorers, adventurers or whatever word creatively labels us Traverser types. As such, we began with an abstract dream and have now reached a concrete destination, Bella Coola, where the team now rests.

In our two months in the wild, we have taken on the personas of our animal spirits. Erica is a mix of the fox and unicorn, known as a Foxicorn, Mike is the Mountain Goat, and I have adopted the Hoary Marmot. Along the way, we’ve had an outpouring of support from our friends, family, loved ones, friendly townsfolk, and worried strangers, not to mention all our Facebook fans, Twitter followers, Pinterest pinners, fellow bloggers, sponsors, private ski backers and disappointed employers.

Sitting here in the comforts of town, I find it a bit awkward to write publicly about our journey as I have been immersed in an insular world of three to six fellow mountain traversers for months now. We’ve had a strong, shared sense of community, without which our traversing days would be over. Together, we share our daily adversities and triumphs like trail mix at snack time. Travelling with such a great group of folks has been an honour and a pleasure and I wish they could all still be out with Mike, Erica and me.

We have had good, bad and blow-you-over-sideways weather, and the food has been fine, despite the 10 pounds of weight I have lost. Although we should be able to get through any situation, given our iPhones paired with satellite text messaging and Google Earth, the reality is, however, that we are incredibly vulnerable. If we run out of food, we do not know enough to forage for grub to sustain ourselves. Nor do we have the ability to craft snowshoes from cedar bark when all our bindings break, as happened. Luckily, in that case, I was able to hitch a ride to Whistler and Vancouver to round up ski equipment still lingering on retailers’ shelves to replace Dynafit skis and bindings, Black Diamond skins, an Arcteryx backpack and Exped mats (thanks Escape Route). We’ve also had our share of injuries (blisters, frostbite, swelling, sunburn and stove burns), but all have been manageable in the field. Those humbling events remind us how vulnerable we are when we start feeling too good sometimes about how easy traversing is. They’ve also taught us not to rely on one plan or one single piece of gear in these remote regions. We’ve also learned to constantly adapt our approach to our traverse by evolving our route plan and improvising as needed, such as making gear repairs in the field. As well, for our next section, we have amended our route to compensate for the below average snowpack.

We will continue to change our plans, as Reverend Robert Rundle, an early missionary in Rupert’s Land who traveled through the Canadian Rockies extensively, and for whom Mt. Rundle is named, said, “Much depends on the state of the atmosphere”.

On Tuesday, April 30, we leave Bella Coola. Once again, we will penetrate a deep, harsh and remote environment. We better get used to remoteness—in our planned six months of travel, we will pass through only five towns. This time, we’re trading glaciers for rivers and oceans and skis for packrafts.

As we embark, I feel my spirit animal shape shifting into the river otter (minus their mating habits), the highly specialized amphibious mammal perfectly at home in a variety of environments.

Click here to watch a short video highlighting some of the landscapes we have been moving through, in no particular order, and here to watch my review of the Delorme Inreach we have been using on this trip.

Thanks for checking in on us. Please feel free to leave a comment. None of this traverse would be possible without the help and support of the folks and shops mentioned below. Thank you.

For something is there,/Something is there when nothing is there but itself,/that is not there when anything else is. Mary Oliver.

Bridget McClarty
Jeff Rabinovitch
Dale Douglas @ Tyax Air
Nick Hawes @ Lakes District Air
Jonas Hoke, Chief Meteorologist
Nicole Koshure, our weather girl
Tim Blair
Jia Condon
Matty Richard
Ian “Cheddar” Watson
James Retty & The Escape Route
Irene Isacs
Norm and Denice Bougie
Lee Lau
Nirvana Pass ski crew
Mountain Equipment Co-Op
Julia Fesenko @ Inreach
Air Blaster Ninja Suits
Red Shred’s (Williams Lake)
Staff &friends @ Tweedsmuir Lodge
Jasmin Dobson
Dave Treadway
Jon Johnston
Whistler Blackcomb
Tracey “Trix” Kindrachuck
Rod Gee
Lena Rowat
Chris Michalak
Chris Ho
Erin and Ryan Boyle
Wayne Flann
Lorne Graham
Tim Smith
Michael Coyle
Jamie Bond
Jerome David
Leonard Maloney
Meghan Cornish & Duncan
Clarence Tsayta Air
Neil Mueller
Bobbi and Earl “Pitt lake water taxi”
Eric Hoji & Jen Ashton
Sam @ Surefoot Whistler
Mike King @ Whitesaddle Air
Sarah Heck
Sarah Schoen
Jeff Crompton
Neil Waggoner
Jeremy Wood
Shasta McNasta
Whitney Rapp
Kristy Deyong
Andor Tari (Sage Advice)

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Leg 2, Part 1


Bridget’s Story
Perhaps the allure of the wolverine attracted me to this trip from Whistler to Bella Coola on skis. I have always admired this animal and have always wanted to travel like the Gulo gulo: I had a romantic desire to travel through wild places, have the freedom to roam through an often-inhospitable landscape and feel the pervasive hunger for…food.  

In the city, I had blithely convinced myself that my daily cycle commute of 20 km at sea level would make me fit enough for this alpine trip. Maybe—if I wasn’t carrying half my body weight on my back and climbing 1,500 m for the first few days into the trip. Reality set in as quickly as fatigue, and when we happened to run into our friend Wango on location with a film crew, it was all I could do to refrain from smuggling myself onto the ride back to Whistler.

april 17 1Life became easier, partially when we had a forced stay at a series of hotsprings and huts (and celebrated a birthday) when a Pineapple Express weather cycle descended upon us. When it ended, we continued, and when we arrived on the Bridge Glacier in sunshine, we said adieu to Jeremy and Neil as they continued on their own adventures. Once our Alaskan friends left, we did not see other humans, nor any human signs until I left the group a couple of weeks later. Until that point, we encountered many snowmobile tracks but no signs of wildlife at all. Where was my alluring wolverine?

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For this second segment of the traverse, we planned to cover an average of 10 km each day, but Mike, Erica, and Ryan experienced so much stormy weather during the first segment of the traverse from Pitt Lake to Whistler, that they were fired up to “make hay” whenever possible. With our good weather and lovely icefield traveling, we certainly motored along and covered more ground than we planned.

Mornings can be tough, but not with Erica’s motivations. She. Is. A. Powerhouse. Every day without fail, Erica was the first to rise and get us moving, from making breakfast to breaking trail. I was amazed by this person, who speaks candidly of sparkles and unicorns, yet has the mental and physical strength and stamina I have rarely seen before.

As my legs and mind became stronger, I immersed myself in the meditative daily existence of traveling on skis through a landscape that became increasingly impressive. The rhythm of each step, step, step became minutes, then hours, days and weeks. I came to love breaking down of camp each morning into packs and sleds, traveling quietly with intermittent snack breaks and conversation, and eventually setting up a new camp for some well-deserved food, conversation, and rest. Rise. Repeat.

april 17 2

Cresting one of the glaciers of the Homathko Icecap, I felt strong, exuberant and alive as I looked up and saw the Waddington group for the first time. After spending days on an expansive white landscape with island peaks, we had arrived at the heart of the Coast Mountain Range. The contrast in landscapes was astonishing: wild, jagged peaks surrounded us, creating a seemingly impenetrable wall.

Then, my moment came. I noticed a clear line of fresh tracks: they climbed out of the steep valley, across the glacier, bisected our route and continued across and over the mountain. Clearly, these were the tracks of someone on a mission. It was my wolverine, traveling faster, farther, and more efficiently than any of us ever will and carrying neither shelter nor food—she was just doing what she does every single day: living.

Seeing those tracks in that place was humbling: I felt humbled by the magnitude of the landscape, by the strength of my companions, and by the very presence of this solitary animal. The simple realization that such an elusive individual can still find a place wild enough to support her existence is enough to give me hope for our future.

Thanks to:
Ian “Cheddar” Watson (guardian angel)
Red Shreds Bike & Board Shed (Williams Lake)
Surefoot (Whistler)
Escape Route (Whistler)
Mike King (White Saddle Air)

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Bridget, Mike, Erica and I are doing well.  We sat out the foul weather last week in the Meager and Keyhole Hotsprings. Meanwhile, Jeremy and Neil departed to ski Mt. Athelstan and hopefully Plinth.  We had a great time with them from Whistler. We all wish they could go further with us.

March 19 Tuesday march 19b

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Southwest Coast Mountains Avalanche Report


The following is a report prepared by Conny Amelunxen, an avalanche forecaster with Baumann Engineering based on a flight over  the Southwest Coast Mountains on March 4, 2013, after the major storm.

Avalanche summary

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