Hello, I am the aforementioned Kat (see Harry’s earlier blog post) and I am also a recent Zoology graduate from the University of Manchester. I found this place while in the midst of a particularly draining university assignment and was in dire need for ‘escape’. The wonders of the internet brought me to Laura’s website and here I am! Whoever said procrastination was a bad thing?
During my studies, I’ve been incredibly lucky to have travelled around the world on various field courses and even managed to bag a year in Seychelles working in sea turtle conservation in the name of ‘Industrial Experience’. My travels have taken me from paradise islands, to tropical rainforests to the (not-so-dry) African savannah, but Canada has always been on the list, and until now remained unexplored. I’m very fortunate to have a number of great friends who hail from this wonderful land, and a couple who have swapped the Fish & Chips for Poutine and emigrated to Canada, only to be envied by damp Brits from afar. My affiliation with these Canadians and imposters alike has meant my imagination has been run wild with stories of the Canadian Rockies and the vastness of this inexplicably big landscape. I had to come and see it to believe it, and now I’m here I still can’t quite get my head around it.
Harry and I arrived at the cabins late one Saturday and we were greeted by one of the most spectacular light shows I’ve ever seen. As the sun set over the ever-nearing mountain ridges, staining the horizon orange, thunder clapped above us and lightning danced across the sky. As soon as the storm lifted, we were left with the resounding silence of the Great Canadian Wilderness. No cars, no planes, no telephones. Total Bliss.
Our work here at the cabins is as varied as the guests who come to stay. From guiding tours along some of the most beautiful trails I’ve had the pleasure to hike; to cleaning phenomenal log cabins; to cooking a beef roast for 11 people on a wood-fuelled agar and collecting drinking water from the local spring – no two days are the same. Everyday there’s something new to be seen (Harry’s bird list is already encroaching 40 species) and learnt, whether it’s how to distinguish horse scat from bear droppings or just ‘how-not-to-chop-your-fingers-off-when-making-kindling’, each lesson is as important as the last.
A particular highlight of the last 3 weeks was the hike up to the Alpine Meadow, one of the more challenging hikes on offer here at the ‘Escape. Unlike Harry, I didn’t spend my childhood surrounded by the serenely mountainous landscape of the Scottish highlands, but rather grew up in a supremely flat town in the middle of England, full primarily of roundabouts. As a teenager I did start to go hiking more and was blessed with the occasional setting of Snowdonia, Wales. This is where I caught the bug for hiking, but until I started climbing that avalanche chute at the bottom of the Alpine Meadow, I had no idea of what a novice I really was. The hike was steep, but it wasn’t just the lack of oxygen that made catching my breath so difficult. With every step higher, the view just got more and more incredible. Pausing for breath half way up, we were blessed with a stunning aerial display by a Golden Eagle – the first I’ve ever seen. After a quick scramble to the top, we feasted on a picnic at 6700ft –the highest elevation I’ve ever reached (and probably the most well earned sandwich I’ve ever eaten). Once we’d well and truly soaked up the view (though no time will ever be enough to do it justice) we headed back down. We got to slide on our backsides most of the way down, which may well be the most fun a person can ever have sitting down. The sore feeling in my legs lasted a few days, but the that feeling of awe will stay with me for many years.
We’ve had the most incredible introduction to the Rockies and I know this is only the beginning of what’s shaping up to be a series of brilliant pub stories, so I look forward to the next few weeks here at the ‘Escape and all the adventures yet to come!