Drive to BC — Day 3 — SK/AB Border to Golden, BC
Date #871 — Thursday, July 14, 2016
B: Our last day of driving out West for our Alpine Club of Canada Toronto Section Mountaineering Camp in the Adamants was a long one. We still had to pickup gear from MEC, drop off the Van we were being paid to deliver, and get on a shuttle that would leave at 5pm.
We were on the road from the Saskatchewan / Alberta border at 6am to arrive at MEC Calgary before 10am. There we picked up the Crampons (basically spikes for your boots) and ice axes we rented. We tested them out for fit in the parking lot and then headed to one of our favourite coffee roasters and The Peakbaggers supporters Phil & Sebastian.
It was awesome to finally hold an ice axe. It felt weird and was much lighter than I expected. Soon enough we’d be learning to use these tools that could save our lives in alpine territory.
We went to the new Phil & Seb location where they do their roasting in hopes of meeting the two. I’ve read a lot about these coffee visionaries and I really respect their attention to detail. I was really excited and happy that, despite our tight timeline, A was willing to make the visit.
It was a quick stop and then we were back on the road. We’d leave the city and head South-West to Jaffray, BC to drop-off the van we were delivering courtesy of HitTheRoad.ca.
The drive to Jaffray was 4 hours and we left Phil & Seb around 12. It would be a close call getting to Jaffray and then to Cranbrook in time for 5pm. We also had to wash the Van before we turned it in.
As A and I drove we talked about our plan and how to efficiently pack our stuff for the bus ride and wash the van. Soon though, we were captivated by the mountain terrain that was opening up in front of us. As we drove the beautiful reality that we would be spending over a week in this area grew. I started to picture myself on top of mountains as we weaved our way though small towns along the highway.
After frantically washing the car at a gas station in Jaffray we drove down a dirt road to find a communal living area called I.D.E.A.L. Society. We passed by small homes, huts, greenhouses and gardens. Some people poked their heads out and I felt like Dorthy first arriving to Munchkin Land. We found the people who would be taking the van at the massive bee-keeping house. It was large and beautiful.
As we arrived all of these people came out from the house and surrounding shrubbery. It was like they all appeared. They had a look of intense curiosity and eagerness. I then remembered the person I spoke to about the delivery saying “we can drop you in Cranbrook, some of us have to shop there anyways.” I figured these were all the people eager to get in the van and go to Cranbrook (which I assumed was like going into the big city).
We pilled in the van sometime after 4:15pm and chatted on our half-hour drive. I was nervous about the time. The driver seemed so casual, driving with only one hand barely on the wheel. We spoke about bee keeping in pre and post-natal care. They told me about I.D.E.A.L Society and how many of them were studying various things and many had PhDs.
They also told me about the communal living, morning meditations and singing, and how it wasn’t for everyone. I thought about living there and how it may be something A and I do one day. A was in the back the whole time, so I figured I’d get the scoop from her later.
We were dropped at the bus depot at 4:50pm and for the first time, left on our own without a vehicle. I couldn’t believe it. We were only a few hours from Golden, BC. At this moment we’d spent almost no money getting out there thanks to Hit The Road. A went and bought subs and we ate them in the parking lot before getting on the bus.
As we rode in the bus to Golden, BC I read the guide book Selkirks North and then passed it over to A. As I read about the overall terrain and history of where we’d be (the specific range is called the Adamants) things slowly started to become even more real for me.
In all the months of preparing for this trip I had to stop visualizing myself in the mountains and focus on the direct task at hand — Get the cord for crevasse rescue, but don’t picture being in the crevasse. Get the ice axes, but don’t picture using the ice axes. I still was holding a lot at bay, but as I read about specific routes and their grades (there are recognized systems for grading climbs and hikes) I actually started to pick out ones I thought A and I could do.
I kept trying to excitedly show all this to A. She said she’d take a look after me and didn’t seem too enthusiastic. She was quiet on the ride. Looking up at all the beautiful mountains. As we passed through small communities, I pictured what life would be like at the base of these giants. What daily tasks were these people completing, and how often were they getting to the tops of mountains?
We arrived in Golden at 7:30pm, just as the sun was beginning to set. Massive mountains covered in fog loomed over us to the North and South. Golden and the Highway seperated the two massive ranges in a valley. The Kickinghorse River separated the two parts the town.
As we walked to the Kickinghorse Lodge I immediately noticed the bugs. I was getting eaten alive. It was trying my patience and I wanted to be inside. I was conflicted though, because I also wanted to enjoy the beautiful views, smells and sounds. Golden is incredible.
After getting registered and setting our bags in the shared room, we prepared to go see the town. A and I would sleep on one bunk and there were three bunks in the room. The next night they’d be filled with other mountaineers going on one of the three camps leaving from Golden.
A and I walked along the Kickinghorse River in to town. While the sun was down, the river glowed a seafoam green. It was miraculously beautiful. I felt so removed from Toronto and yet more comfortable than I expected. There was a slight nervousness and trepidation inside me. With A right there, I felt OK. I felt like I could keep taking things one at a time and just by us being together all would work out.
As A sipped her beer at the local bar we shared a truly incredible pizza. While eating I was beginning to fall asleep. It was a supremely long three days. We’d driven over 37 hours. We’d completely changed our travel plans the day before departing. We’d somehow been accepted into a mountaineering camp that would take us to altitudes we’d never been.
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