February 21, 2014:
|Red Rock Lake|
More than 10 inches of snow covered the ground as we continued our morning routine, firing up the wood stoves for a hot breakfast prior to packing and disassembling camp. The snow would continue to fall for the better part of our days hike in nearly whiteout conditions. The shorelines barely visible, a feeling of absolute wild came over me. In all the months prior to this expedition it never even occurred to me the magnitude of what we were actually setting out to do. I guess it's conditions dependent that really sets the level of difficulty and the conditions we're being tested with are easily the toughest out of all possibilities. I mean, we are out here! This is by far the deepest, most remote location I have ever been in the wilderness. More than 50 miles from any person, road or hint of civilization and unplugged from all material connections. This new feeling really sunk in throughout the day, paving our own path in deep, powdery snow. I trudged along, battling heavy, steady winds from the North making the snow fly almost directly horizontal. Where am I? The Arctic? Perhaps another Planet? I was letting myself get lost in these wild moments, how awesome! This experience brings "epic" to a whole other level in my life and the further we hike, the more connected and aware I become. Don't be mistaken. I am not out here "surviving", this is not reality television, there is no cash prize or reward, these are not "skills" I'm acquiring. It's a way of life and I'm out here living...I'm remembering a forgotten way, the basics of a living man and the relationship to his home. Once you remember, there is no forgetting and no going back.
We made it to the end of Red Rock Lake where we had a quarter mile portage through the woods to the shores of Alpine Lake. The snow was at its deepest yet as we packed a trail prior to lugging our toboggans. Untouched by heavy winds the forest floor is drastically more challenging compared to lake crossings. Once on Alpine we ate lunch under a few grandfather pines, sheltered from the early afternoon winds and snowfall. Our energy level was collectively low after this mornings pull so an early day it is and our new home location was decided. It's pretty amazing how quickly each camp feels like home. Although it may take a few hours each day following a strenuous hike, once settled between the canvas walls with a stack of fire wood cut and split, there is no greater feeling of accomplishment and comfort. This evening I made dessert for the group, a cinnamon raisin bannock. Bannock is a quick bread with just a few simple ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, water and of course, your creative mind. I added LOTS of cinnamon and raisins, the tent smelled of a local bakery in the morning after dozens of fresh pastries have been displayed behind glass. To top it off, I melted down a quarter pound of butter and slowly added brown sugar forming the perfect drizzle topping consistency. Every bite summoned a smile with closed eyes and sounds of deliciousness filled our 9x11ft humble abode. Mmmm....mmm.. the universe is so good to us :)