After a bit of organising and spam messaging on the old facebook, a group of 9 of us were able to lock down last weekend to hike up to a cabin in the woods (minus the weird sci-fi horror stuff and, come to think of it, it’s in the mountains and not the woods). Anyway, the “Thunder Meadows hut” as I later found out, is a labour of love from a local family in Fernie that own one of the coffee shops (Freshies) in town. Set high up in the mountains just outside the ski hill, it sounded like a great place to spend the night with a group of friends.
All of us including 6 Canadians, 3 Australians and 2 dogs set off just after lunch from the Old Growth trailhead, a short drive up the road towards Island Lake lodge. (I should mention that the ratio of Aussies to Canadians was, for once, in their favour which was a welcomed change as Fernie is crawling with our type). We were lucky to have among us one of the local ski patrollers, Hayley, who had good knowledge of the area so we were able to find our way relatively easy. The first part of the hike took us through some fairly dense forested areas with some giant cedar trees which were hundreds of years old.
Soon after, the gradient changed rapidly and stayed this way for the remainder of the hike as we negotiated our way up through the forest and into the open Cabin bowl. By sheer luck and the fact that I didn’t have a backpack larger than 15L, I was travelling light in comparison to the others who had 90L packs. By carrying only the essentials (water, wine, sausages) I found myself leading most of the way, whether this is due to less weight or far superior fitness is up to debate
In just over 3 hours we had reached the top of the pass and the hut was in sight, much to the delight of everyone as the last 30-40 minutes was a tough slog up a steep boulder/rock field. We got to the hut soon after and didn’t waste any time unpacking and getting the wood stove going as it was already starting to get fairly cold. The hut itself was cosy but surprisingly well equipped with plenty of cooking utensils, a propane cooking stove and plenty of foam mattresses to sleep on.
With the fire stove cranking and peace of mind knowing that the toilets met our rigorous standards, we spent the rest of the evening chatting over drinks and then cooking up a gourmet feast featuring every kind of smokie/sausage under the sun. To stave off the sure signs of a food coma we spent the rest of the night playing drinking games including everyones favourite “finger the bowl” which was only out done by Cards against humanity featuring some of Marcus’ favourite brownies.
We all woke in the morning to the smell of bacon which was a welcomed treat as most of us were suffering from a severe case of cotton mouth and nursing hangovers. After a hearty breakfast and a thorough clean of the hut, we made our way back down the mountain without much difficulty, minus the Moose that remained on the trail despite the bear bangers we shot at it.
Overall it was a great camping trip and we all agreed to try and head back in the winter, wise with some knowledge that only experience brings:
- Pack less
- Pack more water (kind of conflicts with number 1) and
- Limit Marcus’ brownie intake