After reading Mel and Evi’s memories of Gisela and Silverking, we set off on Sunday to see just how far we could get into the basin before the snow defeated us. Last year this time, remnant snow appeared just after the Danny Moore confluence and we were only able to get as far as the cabin because a handy troupe of high school students had snowshoed in a few days earlier and a hard frost the night before solidified their track very nicely for us.
This past Sunday, we once again had a nasty frost down in the canyon; luckily I responded to the cold and clear sky just before I went to bed and covered the marigolds and zucchini. Ice furred the perennials and froze any standing water. Most plants survived, though I’m sure they’re all just a little shocked. But I checked back in our weather diaries – about 20 years worth – and June frosts appear regularly. As do days with highs of 30.
We had easy walking most of the way. Saw a harlequin pair just below Danny Moore creek, rays of light illuminating the male’s colours. A spruce grouse in a sub-alpine fir – red eyebrows flashing in the gloom. The greenery exploding; yellow violets, some budding lupines.
Then, just below the basin, snow. And postholing. It’s like walking a tightrope strung about three feet above the ground … stepping lightly, balancing, holding your breath, arms out until wham, you break through, thigh deep in snow. Haul your leg out and recommence the breath, the light steps until you’re down again. You look ahead at your companions who stagger like drunks, lurching and cursing.
But it was well worth it, eating lunch on the deck of the Joe L’Orsa cabin, sun shining, no mosquitoes. I notice in our weather diaries this time of year, all the notes about bugs or the blessed lack of them. We were lucky.
The cabin is beautiful – a log structure that is much more than a cabin. Built by local log house builders, Wes Giesbrecht and Dennis Clark, I well remember the day they helicoptered the huge logs from Wes and Dennis’ building site right over our house into the basin. More on that another day.
There are three log books in the cabin now – all telling stories of visits to the basin, summer, fall, winter and spring. School trips, visitors from around the world, people re-visiting their youth, remembering loved ones, out for adventure. The ones who come year after year. Notations about birds, plants, snow depth, avalanche risk, the state of the cabin, animal sightings.
Just as we walk the same stretch of road day after day, year after year, noting both returns and losses, seeing how the freshet changes the curve of the creek, tumbles old trails into the water, we walk year after year into Silverking Basin. Remembering when the big flood took out the bridges. When the road was re-routed and new creekbeds carved. Grateful to still be able to make the journey.