I’m Tobias, a 23 years old forestry-student from Germany and I will spend the next two months at Rocky Mountain Escape. After finishing my Bachelor degree, I decided to go abroad to get some new experience. Canada was my first choice. It’s been always a dream to me getting to know the amazing landscape which the country is known for.
After making some experiences in logging at a Ranch in British Columbia, I found out that Laura is looking for a volunteer. The description on the internet sounded amazing and it seemed that this was exactly what I was looking for. During my travel from Vancouver to Hinton by bus and hitchhiking, I had the chance to see the different kinds of landscape and ecosystems of western Canada. It was most interesting to me that the changing is that huge within relatively short distances. Of course, the range are not comparable to my European understanding of distance!
Laura picked me up in Hinton. Good for me the first thing we did was the laundry Laura is usually doing on her “town-day”. After some sleepless hostel nights and a couple of days on the road, it was a little bit urgent for me to do my laundry too. Otherwise my attendance wouldn’t be very enjoyable for Laura the upcoming days. The drive through the beautiful backcountry up to the cabins introduced me to this landscape even more with Laura’s narratives about nature, wildlife and the land use by the industrial companies.
When we arrived at the cabins, I was first confronted by something unexpected – snow… After my time in warm British Columbia, I didn’t even spend one thought about the fact that snow awaits me in Alberta. So the first thing I learned about the Rockies is that nothing is more alternating than the weather. Laura showed me my future home which was more comfortable than I expected – against her announcement. In the evening I had my first contact with wildlife – two mule deer decided to make their walk through my “garden”. In the morning I finally realized “wow, you are in the middle of wilderness”. An impressing feeling which is still going-on.
The forests here are not primary or frontier forests, but they have been untouched by humans for many decades. So the boreal ecosystem which has developed through various phases of natural succession is according to the potential natural vegetation. All different phases can be seen in the area. Besides the typical boreal and supalpine forest, which is made up of conifer trees of different ages, there are also parts of younger forest development dominated by pioneer tree-species like willow, poplar and birch. So it is much easier to understand the natural circulation of this ecosystem by watching the environment.
After Laura showed me some parts which are included in the Management of the cabins, the first guests arrived. The couple stayed over the weekend and came mostly for the reason of fishing. So we took them out to Rock lake where they could give a try to catch some trout by canoe. During their canoe trip, Laura took me on a little hike. The trail was amazing and she gave me many interesting informations about the nature and showed me the signs which indicate wildlife. Furthermore, we found some beautiful flowers hidden in the forest like the calypso orchid.
Later she guided me to a fascinating viewpoint over Rock Creek. While we had our lunch, we had a look on the Bald eagles aerie with a little help of the binoculars. There were also some black bears we had some views during the day. I’m sure one of those guys was the black bear which surprised me the day before while I was going to have breakfast.
The meals Laura is offering while the guests are at the ‘Escape are most delicious and surpass even the normal meals. Also her son who stayed over the weekend made a great dinner.
After the weekend I had some time for myself. I decided to discover the area a little bit more. The peak which is located in northern direction excited me since my arrival. So I decided to conquer it. Leo the dog was at my side during the climb to the top. The view from the peak was spectacular. I was on much higher mountains before but the view over the endless wideness of the wildlandscape was overwhelming. It is nice to see that beneath the threatening of natural forests by logging and mining also parts like this still remain.
I’m looking forward to learn more about the nature at this place and the living within the wilderness.
As an aside – another Laura, hailing originally from Spain, has joined our team! We’re all looking forward to some great summer hiking and new adventures with our guests. Until next time . . . Happy Trails!