“Wake up in the morning feeling like P-Diddy” Is what I heard as my 6am alarm sang Ke$ha to me. I was up early and excited for my first hut trip of the year. All that was left was for Caroline, Charlie and I to pack our backpacks and drive 150k north to the trailhead with a stop in Pemberton pick up Andrew Strain. The plan sounded simple enough on paper.
While waiting for two friends to drive from Vancouver the three of us decided to drive into Whistler for some breakfast. Little did we know that the two coming from Vancouver had been drinking large amounts of cheap booze the night before and were having a “slow morning”. No problem, we figured we would be at the logging road by 11 and ready for the 10 Kilometer tour. To speed up the story the morning hours passed and our Vancouver imports took their time. Finally we were on our way to Pemberton with a full car. “S#!T we still have to fit strain” I yelled. So like sardines in a can or Mexicans in a van we packed Andrew into the wagon, tied his split board to the roof, and headed north.
“Guys, we are going into the snow bank, hold on” is what I said as my wagon slid downhill into the snowbank. This little hiccup added another half hour to our already delayed start. Reeking like clutch the car finally got unstuck and we were ready for the hike.
“Do we need this fuel” Strain Said. The group agreed that one can would suffice and we left the second can of white gas in the trunk. At 2pm on Saturday we began our hike. Yep 2pm. As the trail got steeper the light got darker and things began to go wrong. After Caroline’s fifth face plant she was (to say the least) not stoked on skiing downhill in tour mode. Also on a downhill Charlie’s alpine treckers exploded (literally plastic everywhere), so from then on Char was hiking with skins and no touring bindings (calves of steel). It began to snow just as the last bit of grey light turned to black. The headlamps came out but only 2 of the 5 people had working headlamps (hungover Hereward Longley forgot to put batteries in his light and Charlie had the equivalent of a laser pointer, but at least it changed colors. I am thankful for the outline of another skin track or I am positive we would have been lost. As the nine o’clock hour passed the five of us finally arrived at the cozy looking hut. We were cold, blistered and hungry but excited to be at the hut and be warm, or at least we thought.
I would personally like to say F*$& You to MEC for paying $3,000 to not have a wood burning stove installed in the hut. What was MEC thinking? Did they worry that guys like us would use our snow saws and ski edges to chop down trees in the alpine? The tiny heaters did nothing. And because I had a little accident with our fuel the tiny heaters were put back on the shelf. With most of our fuel gone (thanks Jake) the hut stayed cold. Canned fish and pasta was slowly made into dinner because our “jet-Boil” acted more like a “By-Plane Boil” and lagged in melting snow and boiling water. Thankfully the whisky mentally warmed us, and we crawled into our sleeping bags.
Waking up to chapped lips because of the cold and literally everything in the hut iced all I wanted to do was curl back into fetal position and not move. The jet boil lagged again and the breakfast menu was canned fish and trail mix.
Moving on to the skiing part of the trip which was AWESOME. The coldest weekend of the year yielded interior like snow. Hoots and hollers could be heard as the group skied some of the driest snow I have ever witnessed in the Coast mountains. Around 3pm the temperature began to warm and there were serious signs in the snow pack that it was time make our way out. The evening brought more grey light and the group listened to large avalanches rip down trees across the valley. A scary rumble. Trying to move as quickly and as safely as possible the group scurried through dense trees, which continued to snagg on our dangling backpacks. We made it to the valley bottom by dark. Only 4k on the logging road and we would be at the car. Once again the headlamps came out and the snow continued to fall.
I closed the trunk to a much better packing job and cranked the heat in my car. Driving slow as to not repeat an accident I rolled out of the valley and straight into Pemberton for burgers and a beer.
For only being in the bush a day and a half we all felt drained as it seamed like more than a week had passed. As we scarfed down our delicious burgers and raised our glasses to a decision that the next hut we visited must have a stove.