With a weekend of forecasted sun ahead of us, Saturday morning found Ed and I frantically waxing our skis over the kitchen sink, hastily packing our bags and pulling out of the garage by noon — hoping we didn’t forget anything.
In our haste, we did not think to bring a map, since… like… we had totally been to Wendy Thompson Hut* before and… like… obviously it would be obvious where to go.
We were wrong.
Upon parking, we tried to follow our previous winter route, but, without the snow, the terrain was a little less forgiving. As we tried to find the trail from the road we soon realized that, since it is now spring, we could actually drive down the logging road and park further in.
We retreated to the car and tried again.
This time we made it 700 m down the road, until it forked. We found a good place to park, out of the way of (unlikely) traffic, and strapped our skis to our hefty overnight bags.
And so, by 3:30 pm, we found ourselves with two choices: we could either hike along the lower, road with the occasional snow patch OR we could hike up the road that was no longer a road, went uphill, looked like it hadn’t been used in years AND provided a sea of welcoming buckbrush.
The choice was pretty clear. We went uphill into the buckbrush.
Now, you might not really understand this logic, but let me defend myself. Having worked in bush camps, where it is my job to swim through buckbrush that often towers over my head, tough terrain has become normalized. It is also part of my nature to expect things to be way harder then they are supposed to be. I have a tendency to expect the impossible, and so when I am presented with easier options along the way, I get suspicious.
Of course, after 45 minutes of stubbornly plowing our way through the buckbrush, both Ed and I were starting to have doubts about our choices in life. Unfortunately, neither one of us had the heart to raise the subject of turning around after the effort we had put into this uphill trudge. It wasn’t until it literally became impossible to go further that we decided to reassess our position and admitted to each other that we were probably going the wrong way.
Rather than go back the way we came, we decided we would just cut down and meet up with the trail. This was a case of oversimplification, as we did not take into account the many patches of deep, soft, rutted snow that littered the mountain-side. After we both managed to sink waist-deep in snow (multiple times), had sworn to ourselves that we would never be over-confident again (lies, all lies) and had endured several moments of crisis where we internally assured ourselves (after face planting for the fifth time into another tree well) that we could not go on…. we made it back to the road.
At this point, we had both confronted several personality demons. Mine, specifically answered to the names of: stubbornness, pride and impulsiveness.
By 5 pm we reached the trail head and tried once more to follow the obstacle course… aka snow rutted trail. Having wasted a lot of energy on our unnecessary uphill ascent, we were both a little pooped by the time there was actually enough snow to warrant putting our skis on.
When we had finally made it to the hut, we set up our tent with the expectation that hordes of people would show up and kick us out (again, always assume the worst so that you are pleasantly surprised). Then, after a few moments of mental time out, we got to “work” on dinner, which thankfully just consisted of boiling some water (which Ed painstakingly retrieved from a snow-covered stream using ingenuity) for our magical Kathmandu Curry, curtesy of Back Country Cuisine.
As we ate curry out of a bag, we reflected on our eventful afternoon. By this time, the memories of our struggles had morphed into a distant and I daresay pleasant adventure, and we went to bed with much more optimism than we had started with. Perhaps too much, because we both secretly dreamed that our wet socks and boots would be dried by house elves.
Such was not the case.
In the morning, we forced our cold, wet socks onto our feet, after discovering that candles and camping stoves are not the most excellent drying tools (but also not the worst).
Of course, the sunshine that flooded the Marriott Basin was enough to make anyone forget about having wet feet, and soon we found ourselves skiing perfect corn snow and enjoying the winter wonderland which we had ALL TO OURSELVES. It was kind of the best day ever.
And in your future endeavours: May the Fourth be with you.
*It should be noted that the Wendy Thompson Hut is run by the Alpine Club of Canada and requires a reservation and payment of $12 per person per night. It is volunteer maintained and users are responsible for cleaning up after themselves.