Thursday, August 27, 2009

Exploring the Flathead

Our neighbours, who own and operate Baldy Mountain Outfitters, have their base camp (and a few smaller private hunting cabins) in the Flathead Valley; their guiding area including over 300 square miles of the most incredible back country.

According to the Sierra Club BC,

The Flathead River Valley is a window to our past. Never settled, this remote valley in BC’s southeast corner is a hotspot for biological diversity. The Flathead is a modern-day Noah’s Ark for many species that have been squeezed into a Rocky Mountain ribbon of green, as their age-old habitat vanishes due to human activity.
The Flathead is home to an astounding 16 species of carnivores, ranging from the tiny marten to the towering grizzly. Six species of hoofed animals (ungulates), roam the spacious valley bottom and serrated mountain tops—including elk, bighorn sheep, moose and mountain goat. There are more grizzly bears here than anywhere else in the interior of North America, and the greatest density and diversity of carnivores on the continent.
When offered the opportunity to trek into one of their secluded hunting cabins we jumped at the chance to explore with people who have spent most of their lives living in and exploring this valley.

The road from the base camp to where we were going to begin hiking was in good condition, but really steep. Sure glad I was not walking it!

We hiked for a couple of hours through some of the most incredible terrain most of it above the tree line. Lots of rock, snags, brush...areas for wildlife to hide.

The hunting cabin is secreted away in the trees near a creek, challenging to find even if you know where it is! The grizzlies can get pretty hungry here as evidenced by the bite mark in the metal roof of the cabin.

On the hike back we travelled along a windy ridge overlooking the valley then down a somewhat steep, rocky animal trail. Yes, clutzy me did fall, smacking my camera good on the rocks. Good thing neither one of us was hurt, just scratched and a little bruised.

What a day! An awesome hike, great people, followed by a delicious dinner at base camp overlooking the pond full of trout. Thanks Harry and Jill!

Monday, August 17, 2009

That's gotta hurt!

Another first! Yes, almost 50 years old and still having firsts.

This 'big city' escapee is learning about living rural; attending a rodeo is part of the process. When it comes to education I always seem to learn better by doing, but in this case, observing was quite enough. I am not going to be a rodeo queen. Learning to ride is one thing, but what these cowboys and cowgirls do is something else, it has got to be painful, and takes years of practice.

The rodeo included Bronco riding, bull riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, barrel racing and 'trick riders'.

Just watching the participants and the way they interacted with each other was lots of fun. I am not sure who had more attitude though, the riders or the ridees! I think some of those bulls like the sound of applause and want to spend more time in the arena; they really did not want to leave!

It was quite a show. I am sure every one of the participants now needs chiropractic adjustment. Including the four legged ones.

That's gotta hurt!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Celebrating 80 years

Last week was my Uncle Bill's birthday. Eighty. Eight decades. Twenty years shy of one hundred. Young.

It had been a long time since I had seen my Uncle Bill, my Dad's brother, probably fourteen years or so. He has not changed. He is still kind, funny, thoughtful and loving. His blue eyes sparkle with love, joy and mischief. He makes me smile and laugh. He reminds me of Dad.

Bill loves his family. All of us. That's a lot of people. I could feel it when I sat and talked with him, sharing memories; when I was young, when he and Dad and the rest of his siblings were younger, happy times, sad times.

Not all the aunts and uncles were able to attend. My dad (John), Victor and Barbara Joan have passed away, Sally, Betty and Donald were unable to attend. (But I am sure they were all there in spirit, one way or another.) Uncle Bob and Aunt Nada made the trip over from Victoria. The bond between Bill and his brother Bob was very evident. The pictures below tell the whole story. The expressions on their faces as they shared in telling a story (and clowning around) says it all. (Doesn't matter what the story was, plug in anything you like, being sure to include,'You're not going to tell that story are you', 'That's not how it happened', 'I don't think so', 'Not that again', 'Who, me?').

Here is the group of us that attended the birthday celebration.

It was a pleasure to spend time with all the cousins, aunts and uncles that I have not seen in years. It was great to see Aunt Virginia, Malcolm, Richard none of whom I would have recognized if I had sat beside them anywhere but here.

The Great and the Grand. Bill and Laura's grand kids that is. Lots of them; having fun. Hamming it up for the camera, letting their personalities coming through.

I will put a slideshow up of all the pics from the celebration or you can click here.

Thanks so much for inviting us to share in Uncle Bill's birthday. Looking forward to the next one!