Training Day 1. Our hike up Beaver Creek mountain started as a way to kill a rainy afternoon. It seems as if mother nature has put the keibash on summer, and evidently it’s time for mud season again. A perfect chance to get some material for our new series of posts about training for ski season, walking uphill! The first 20 minutes were terrible, breathing hard and thighs burning, wondering why we do such things. For the exercise, dammit! We eventually got into a groove and started to enjoy the surroundings and rapid ascent away from the cookie cutter Bavarian village.
Fast forward to a snow covered mountain and walking through endless glades, we began to see the hype on BC tree skiing. A couple feet of powder to cover the fallen trees and stumps, and this could be epic. STEEP doesn’t being to describe the surreal drops and slalom like courses set up through the forests. Nature’s finest. Dreams slowly faded as we passed through open clearings and new power lines being erected. The panging of a metal stake being driven into the ground by hand broke the otherwise silence of our hike.
Past the last signs of civilization, we began the final ascent up a steep ridgeline and towards the lake. Stopping every 10 ft. and foraging like bears on the local thimble berries and raspberries – we were eating well at a snail’s pace. Hands and faces stained red, the sugar rush kicked in as we walked along Beaver Creek, which was flowing at a pretty good pace for this late in the season.
At the end of the hike, the lake didn’t disappoint. A reflecting pond at its finest, our group sat and stared for a bit before the rains came. We went to check out the falls and then circled around the lake on what appeared to be a seldom used path. The south side of the lake had some interesting foliage, almost transporting us to the PNW with hanging moss and mushrooms abound.
Our route back to the trail took us across a makeshift log bridge…an easy crossing, or so we thought. Here’s where it got interesting. From afar, someone in our group spotted “some wild donkeys, or a herd of something” just over the deep banks of the lake. With no saddles or voices to be heard, they weren’t horses, so curiosity got the best of us. We popped our heads over the bushes only to be face to face with a gigantic moose and her two calves. The cow snorted loudly at our encroachment and we backed off quickly to the edge of the water.
Remembering the infinite wisdom of Bear Grylls and our time in Alaska, we knew that the worst place we could possibly be was between the mother and her calves. Poor eyesight and a vicious protective streak, we weren’t messing around. So we waited, and waited…and waited for the family to move along. They were taking their time. Fast food drive through at Burger King, this was not.
They moved, and we moved…a few steps down the road. We followed moose tracks until dinner spot #2 meant the end of the road for us. With darkness beginning to fall, we had two choices: wait it out (and we were woefully unprepared to spend the night in falling temperatures), or navigate down the steep banks of the creek, side skirting the water, and rejoining the trail below where the moose could smell us. Our black ops mission seemed like the only logical thing to do.
The down climb over loose scree was as fun as it sounds. Dodging talus spiders and constantly on the lookout for Lord of the Rings characters, we thought we were pretty sneaky. A few near dips into Beaver Creek while swinging on tree roots like we were playing Atari’s Pit Fall and we were staring up at a steep hill of loose dirt to return to the trail. Our lead scampered up the hill monkey style and popped his head over the lip only to find a moose munching on grass staring right back at him. Not so sneaky…
On to Plan B. Traversing further down the hillside we eventually found a way out of the ravine that wasn’t directly into a moose’s butt. Up, over the edge, and into a Scottish peat bog, we were wet, and ready to get the hell out of dodge. Moose looking down on us from the ridge line, ready to charge, we took off running through the wetness. Perhaps not the best course of action, but nevertheless, what we did. We were thoroughly soaked after a quick sprint, and upon looking over our shouldes, we saw mother moose keeping a watchful eye on us all the way down…calves in tow.
The down climb was uneventful, if not beautiful, after our adventure at Beaver Lake. A few more stops at the thimble berry bushes, we made our way down just as the sun set on another good hike. Off to moose sized burritos waiting in Avon, promptly devoured as we reflected on a near death experience that could have turned out much worse.
Lesson learned, keep a watchful eye on your surroundings in the summer and the winter. Read up on local wildlife and have at least some idea what to do during an encounter.
Most importantly, get out and hike somewhere…there’s no gym exercise you can do to replicate the full body workout of climbing up and down, left, right, over rocks, under fallen trees, across slippery logs, and evidently, running for your life on some occasions. Gotta get in shape some how. Stay tuned for the more “training day” posts and we’ll give you some ideas on how to get there.