Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Snowshoeing Up A Storm

High Tech versus Traditional is what it all came down to on Saturday, January 20th, 2008. That morning, my friend Decon & I headed for Waterton National Park. The town of Waterton, nearly abandoned for the winter months, proffered an ample supply of the white stuff to tromp in. In fact, the place where I wanted to park my car was covered by about two feet of snow! I parked along the road.

The day was not very cold, perhaps –5 Celsius (23 F). We chose the trail leading to Bertha Falls and strapped on our snowshoes.

Under foot, the thick blanket was powder and perfect. The day was dim from thick cloud cover, but not a breath of the area’s usual wind rustled the tenacious evergreens or kissed the barren bark of the hardy deciduous trees and bushes. The place was hauntingly gorgeous.

We plodded purposefully up the trail. It had been ages since either of us had created such giant footprints. I wore my old wood and rawhide snowshoes and Decon wore his new, high tech Christmas presents. After some unsteady minutes, I finally got my snow-legs and progress began to be rapid. Well, at least for a few strides.

Without warning, my left leather binding gave way. The binding was old, but I had come prepared. In seconds, I produced an old leather bootlace from my pack and had it looped and knotted in place. It was as good as new!

Decon & I moved foreword again, stopping here and there to catch our breath and to take some beautiful photographs. Without the slightest breeze, the place was like an expansive tomb, complete with a thick layer of white sound silencer and a huge frozen lake protected by mighty, snow-capped mountains. To call the wondrous scene ‘peace giving’ was an understatement!

Things went well for a while, but soon, a strap on the outside of my left toe tore free. Argh! I dug into my camera bag and produced two short lengths of nylon twine. They were just long enough to make the repair. Off we tromped again.

Tranquil vistas followed by serene, soothing scenes, burst upon us. Tiny mounds of pure white snow adorned the evergreen bows along the trail, perched like sculpted puffs of albino cotton candy on the green. Towering above us, the steep mountain slopes were spread with a thick layer of conifers dusted in icing sugar. On we strode in awe!

All of a sudden, we heard voices. The area was well travelled in the summer time, but in the dead of winter, we thought we were alone. Two girls, ladies actually, emerged from the trees along the trail ahead. Decon and & I moved off the path to let them pass, visiting briefly with them for the duration of our unexpected encounter. We were on our way to visit Bertha Falls, and one young lady told us that the picturesque waterfall had been named after her Great Aunt. Wow! What were the odds of meeting such a person in such a remote location?

Decon and I moved upwards while the girls headed down. How cool would that be to have something so notable and beautiful named after a member of your own kin? A sweet family treasure to be sure!

As we hiked along, the alpine chill seemed to settle upon us. The visibility gently shrank and tiny snowflakes began to sprinkle down. I had packed my stove and my thoughts lingered on the hot soup I would soon be sipping in the snow.

Finally, we reached the frozen waterfall. It was so snow-covered as to be unrecognizable as a falls, but both Decon and I remembered a hot summer’s day when we had enjoyed its splendour with some of our children. Just below the falls, a stout wooden bridge spanned the silent stream. Its deck and railings were filled to overflowing with piled snow. It looked like a whipped cream display gone wrong!

I dug out my fuel bottle and hooked up the stove. It lit without a hitch. Next, out came the soup and I returned my chilled fingers for the pot. “Oh no!” In my haste to get out my door, I had left the pot sitting on the kitchen table! Lingering anticipations of salty soup silencing my shivers slipped away in a split second. Decon just took the disappointment in stride. “Did you bring anything else to eat?” He calmly queried. I had, and we both munched cold sandwiches as we took turns warming our fingers and palms over the radiating stove. After a few minutes I laughed about the whole thing.

Without the warmth of hot soup in my belly, I set up my camera and tiny tripod on one of my snowshoes and we immortalized our frozen selves. The snow was heavy now, and the camera’s flash highlighted every flake between the lens and our chilled bodies. Streaking flakes obscured our images a little. The day was waning, so I quickly gathered up my strewn belongings: the stove, fuel bottle, the plate to set the absent pot on, the thick, flexible foil (that protected the intense flame), and my tripod and camera. By the time I had everything stowed, my fingers were beyond numb. The temperature was plummeting, and the weather was definitely changing for the worse.

In silent concentration Decon and I retraced our giant steps. We’ve hiked together more times than I can remember, and it seemed we both felt the gravity of the impending weather crisis. On we trod, hurrying, but not panicked. Suddenly I lost my footing and down I went.
An inspection of my snowshoes revealed that my old, reliable leather bootlace had broken in several places. With the trailhead more than two kilometres away, I was out of rope tricks. Fortunately, Decon had some rope in his pack. We quickly cut a chunk and I fastened it where the spent lace had just been. Off we went – again.

The visibility dropped to about two hundred feet, making the panoramic view of the lake feel like we were standing in a large room with drab, windowless walls. It was just the trail, a few visible trees and us under a sky full of fluffy snowflakes. When we reached the place where the trail widened and Decon and I had plodded side by side on the way to the waterfall, I stopped for one final photo op. Cold fingers or not, the fish-shaped tracks in the virgin snow just looked too good to pass up!

With about a kilometre between us and our destination, I absentmindedly glanced down at my feet. “Not again?” The rope that had replaced the worn leather lace had nearly cut its way through the leather that held my toe. The whole binding appeared to have just a few more steps before total breakdown. I stopped and dejectedly unstrapped my oversized paws. It was no longer a snowshoeing trip for me.

Like walking on a vast waterbed, I slogged into step behind my friend. The trail was already packed down several inches by several sets of snowshoes, but I still had trouble. Every few steps, without warning, one of my booted feet would sink into oblivion. I tried to keep up with Decon, but slowly but surely, he pulled away. With my shiny wood and golden woven rawhide across my shoulders, I pushed on.

For fifteen long minutes I slipped and slid, constantly fighting for balance. Up the hills and down the slopes the trail twisted and turned. Finally, the car came into view.

It was covered in at least two inches of fresh snow! Unreal! I got the doors open, brushed it off and dumped my pack and snowshoes into the trunk. We paused for one final photo. Decon stood beside the “Bertha Falls” sign while I snapped.

With that, the adventure concluded, and as always, not everything went as planned. Funny how adventures and life can be so similar. Oh, did I say that the adventure was over? Well, only almost!

Our retreat from the newly whitened mountains was slow. I drive a double trailer, 82-foot monstrosity for a living, so a car usually seems pretty easy. However, not everyone I caught up to shared my feelings. As we overtook civilization, the two-lane road became more and more thick with traffic. Soon, I gave up trying to pass people. I was overwhelmingly outnumbered.
Now ordinarily, returning late from a jaunt in the mountains was perfectly fine. In fact, it happened most of the time. However, all the slower going created a problem. I was supposed to use the car, which was really my wife’s car, to pick her up from work at 7pm. I had dropped her off there at 7am and should have easily been back when she finished at 7pm. Well, I tried, but in the end, it was 7:45 before I rolled, or rather slid, into her view. Diana wore an “I told you so” expression, but successfully kept it under raps; masking it with a relived smile. On the way home, she had to hear the saga. Diana eagerly listens to my narrations and descriptions, but is secretly glad that it is usually only one of us that experiences them.
(For more photos, check out the slideshow. Other slide show links are now in the side bar too.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

More Photos

Hi everyone. I'm not feeling very well today, and have missed most of my day's work sleeping. It happens. One of my readers asked me to post more pictures, and I listened. Pictures truly are the universal language, and I hope those who read my blog - English speaking and not, will enjoy them. So... here are a few more of Pointer Island Lightstation.

These were all taken in the summer of 1975 by one of my younger sisters, Amy. This first one is looking South-Southeast from the helicopter pad. This next one is also from the helicopter pad, but my sister moved about thirty feet to the right.These last two shots are taken from around the corner of the big house at the end of the helicopter ramp and landing (in the centre of the above photo). The two photos, below, are mirror images of each other. The railing, in the left foreground of the bottom shot, is the same railing in the bottom-centre of the top shot (where the white gate is standing open). Also, in both photos, you can see the garden netting over my Mother's garden boxes.

Monday, January 7, 2008

What Is Going On With My Writing Projects?

Today, Autumn Ables asked some good questions. It appears that I have created a little confusion. Sorry. I will endeavour to explain what on earth I am doing with my writing projects.

The fiction novel I began for nanowrimo 2007 is called "In Ravenscrag's Shadow". It is an adventure novel and is only partially written, but I have a completed outline for the entire book. I completed its conception, invention and nearly 15,000 words in the month of November. (I was trying for 50,000 words but needed sleep.) Once November came to an end, so did my work on that fiction piece. My publisher is aware of the 15,000 words, but my publisher has never published a work of fiction. (ie. I'd probably need a different publisher.) I have plans to publish "In Ravenscrag's Shadow", but "plans" are all I have at this point. I may publish the book a chapter at a time on my website (when it is up and running). It was extreme fun to write the first part of this fiction novel, and I will definitely finish it. I may wait until nanowrimo 2008 before trying to reach the 50,000 word goal, but if I get time, I will complete it sooner.

Presently, I am on page 187 of 261 pages in Three Seconds On, Three Seconds Off – Volume I. My editor has returned the manuscript with her recommended changes and I am reviewing them - making further changes where I think they are needed, but mostly just going with her recommendations. I hope to have the entire book completed within the next two weeks. After that, the manuscript goes back to the editor so she can review my changes. I think that she reviews it again and either accepts my revisions or makes new ones. Then the manuscript comes back to me to review a second time - and so on until we both agree on everything. Then the book goes to an editor who checks for grammar and spelling. Then, if I understand it right, the manuscript goes to the printer. At this point in time, I do not have a tentative publication date, but it is anticipated to occur in the neighbourhood of March 2008. My publisher is anxious to complete the project, but is more anxious that it is done right. I feel the same way.

My full time job demands a lot of me, and I have to sleep some of the time too. (I drive a double trailer semi, hauling grain so that cows can eat and do what they do.) However, I make good use of any down time I have by pulling out my laptop or a notepad. I was able to get through over 30 pages of editing today while I waited to unload, load and get a tire repaired. (So far this year, my semi has run for nearly 50 hours - and I took the 1st off.) It is a challenge to get writing things done, but a challenge I usually enjoy - its always an adventure.

I hope I have clarified a little. Thank you all for your interest. I will keep you posted (no pun intended) on my progress, but please feel free to ask about anything that you're not sure about. Talk to you soon!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Serious Editing In Progress

Hi again, it has been much too long since I last greeted you all.
On December 18, 2007 I received my edited manuscript back from my editor - all 250 odd pages of it. At first I felt overwhelmed! Next, I went to work, checking the highlighted recommendations and adding or subtracting anything I felt necessary. My editor asked me to consider striking five of the weaker stories from the book, and at first, that distressed me greatly! Cut up my baby? Well, after stewing for days about the idea, I still could not decide what to do. I wanted to keep them all, but felt great respect for this unexpected opinion. After all, my editor wasn't born yesterday! Finally, I had an idea that proved to be the linchpin. I sat quietly and read over my Table of Contents, trying to feel each story in sequential order. As I progressed from one title to the next, feeling the changing moods of the entire volume in just a few seconds, I was surprised to find myself agreeing with the editor. Soooo! In Volume I, I will be cutting the five recommended stories - sorry. If this first edition does well on the book shelves of the world, I have the option of inserting those five stories in the second edition or adding them to Volume II or III.

And speaking of Volumes 2 & 3, on Dec 11th, I got an idea for a fourth volume. When I began leaving the lighthouse to attend high school (in various places), I had many experiences while attempting to integrate my socially backward self into society. Living in isolation created a social-misfit-default-setting that I have spent decades trying to re-write. I thought there may be some public interest in this struggle, but for sure I will eventually write these stories for my family - whether I publish them or not. My concepts for volumes 1-3 are all limited to lighthouse events.

To date, I have edited Volume I up to page 130. The work is fun, enlightening and emotionally charged. I often wonder how a stranger will feel when they read a chapter that pushes unbidden tears into my eyes. I hope that all my readers will feel as I felt at the time of the described events. It was such a pleasure for me to create this book, and I hope it is enjoyed by a great many people. Thank you for your interest. I sincerely appreciate it!

The last 500 visitors to my blog are from all over the world - have a look. Totally awesome!! Thank you all for dropping by for a visit. If you enjoy my blog, please tell your friends and family - because there is much more to come!!!

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Thursday, January 3, 2008


It has been awhile since my husband has had any free minutes to post so i thought i would do the honors. Our Christmas was wonderful. We missed our oldest daughter and her family but were able to have all the other children here to celebrate. We spent time together just talking, laughing, singing and of course eating. This time of the year is the time that both my husband and i feel the closest to your Saviour. We tried our best to reach out to others and share the joy of His birth though deeds and song. We both love to sing and were able to do so in our Church service and also at two Senior's homes. In between all this was work for both of us. I work full time with a 12 hour shift in a Senior home and of course Davis just works hours and hours driving. Just a couple weeks before Christmas, Davis received his manuscript back from the editor and he has been pouring over it every free second he has. So everyone can see between Christmas, Family, Work and Editing there was no time to post. Now i have to get back to taking down and putting away all my decorations and once again try to keep the Christmas Spirit in my heart all year long, without the beautiful reminders i have enjoyed all month. Happy New Year From The Writer's Wife.