Dee and I planned to hike out to the property on May 1, 2010. It would allow for one last excursion together before she left for the summer, and serve to get moving on my upstairs walls. We weren’t sure what to expect, whether or not there would be much snow, whether or not we could use the ATV on any of the trail, or even if hiking was an option. We were simply armed for whichever situation we found ourselves in.

To begin the trip, we unloaded the ATV at my usual parking lot and rode, or attempted to ride, down the trail. It seemed manageable at first, but we didn’t get far before legths of deep snow stopped us in our tracks. Back at the truck we drove further on to the winter parking lot were the snowmachine trail leads more directly to the cabin. We’d have to hike in, and that would be the easiest, shortest route.

Why we left our snowshoes is beyond me. I guess we knew we’d be carrying them often and didn’t want the extra weight. I for one had 2.5 pounds of nails, a circular saw, battery pack, winter gear, and some other stuff that probably put my pack near 60 pounds. Dee, too, had a heavier pack than normal and wasn’t use to carrying so much due to the extra winter gear. And even with lighter packs, the hiking would still have been a challenge.

Some times we were lucky enough to be on solid snow and ice. Other times we were walking through water with ice underneath. Occasionally we tromped through moss that still had permafrost underneath. And other times, unfortunately too often, we were post-holing. Basically we were trying to walk on deep snow that kept giving way. That was the pits, but eventually we got through it, and at the very least it was a killer workout. In the end, the 3 miles felt more like an average 8 for easy summer hiking. We also had wet feet from snow that got in over our boots.

Dee crossing a second branch of the ice cold Trapper Creek

Dee crossing a second branch of the ice cold Trapper Creek

That reminds me, how could I leave out having to cross Trapper Creek. We tried to find the shallowest point, then I in my sandals and Dee in her shoes took the plunge together. YIKES! That water was damn cold! I don’t know about most people, but I for one get shooting pain in my bones and up into my hips after a few seconds. To top it off, we crossed at a point were we had to get out on a little island, then get back in again. Lesson learned, just pick on wide place and get it all over with in one shot, which is exactly what we did on the return the next day. After crossing we dried our feet off and put our dry socks and boots back on. Everything was fine.

Back on track, eventually we reached the cabin. Despite being a bit sick with a headache and upset stomach, possibly from food I ate the evening before, I got right to work. I had already cut some studs during my last trip out; although, some of them needed to be trimmed up a bit to be even. I started putting in the studs for my one upper wall. Meanwhile, Dee tidied up a bit, sweeping and organizing.  And the tent was amazing. From my last trip out, all the remaining snow inside had melted away, dried, and the tent had sprung back up in it’s usual shape. Impressive.

Roasting maple cream cookies on the hot wood stove

Roasting maple cream cookies on the hot wood stove

Dee warms up her chilly dogs

Dee warms up her chilly dogs

We also stocked up the wood stove and tested it out. I had never tried it before, so it was a bit of a game to get it working. To begin with it poored thick smoke out into the cabin, making my headache worse.  Then I recalled something about the stack and the draft created by the rising heat. I found some sheet metal that was coiled up and put it on top to act like a bit of a chimney. To our surprise, it worked rather well. There was still some smoke in the cabin, but at least the fire kept burning and the smoke was lifted high enough to escape out the windows or over the walls. We used it to get warm, dray our socks and boots, even roast some maple cookies to a golden brown krisp. Tasty!

Night came and went too. Yes, it was cold. I didn’t hear any complaining from Dee though. She managed to just jam up close to me and nearly push me off my mattress. We both had some heater packets in our sleeping bags and tried to keep our warm breath inside to build up a little warmth.

Doing what I've come to enjoy most... building my wilderness retreat

Doing what I've come to enjoy most... building my wilderness retreat

Come morning we were back on the building game. I continued on with building light sections of the upper walls. Dee helped lift them up and hold them in place while I nailed them down. Board by board, cut by cut, nail by nail, each wall was erected with a majority of the studs in place. Dee also put a great deal of effort, and time, into taking candid photos of me while I work, which I know I’ll appreciate in the years to come. Otherwise, I’d have few if any good shot of myself while building the cabin.

Eventually we called it quits, content with the work we had done, and packed up for the hike back. All through the morning I had endured a terrible headache that throbbed each time I bent down to pick up some wood or pound some nails. It made me nausious, as did the steaming wet wood that was trying to burn in the wood stove and expelling noxious fumes. My only hope was that while hiking in the fresh air and getting my blood flowing that I’d feel better and not worse during our long hike out.

Luckily, as usual, that was the case. The journey out was just fine. We chose a better location to cross Trapper Creek; although, the water had risen quite a bit in just that one day. We also came to another small creek were all traces of the ice bridge we walked across the day prior had been washed away. After a hard search, a skinny place to jump across was found, and we barely made the leap without getting soaked. At another creek we laid down a small, dead spruce tree to get across.  And eventually we found our way, through more slush of course, to the truck. The drive home required more effort to keep my eyes open than it did the control the vehicle. We were whipped.