When Lisa and I made the tough choice not to fly thousands of kilometres to be with either of our families this Christmas, we had no clue what we would do over the holidays. We wouldn’t have family around, but what else makes Christmas special? Snow, being warm and cozy, doing something fun, pigging out on good food… but where could we get all of that, especially in the rainy city of Victoria? Well, in the mountains of course, not too too far from Victoria, and after buying some snowshoes and getting a tip on an awesome place to explore, we were on our way. Up, up, and away we went in our little Corolla until we found snow, and plenty of it! We strapped on our snowshoes, shouldered our heavy packs laden with a frozen bird and other Christmas goodies, and made our way straight up in a grueling shakedown of our brand new snowshoes.
Higher and higher we went, and soon we found ourselves hastily packing down the snow in what would be our campsite before darkness and a bit of cold descended upon us.
With over a meter of snow beneath us and mounds of snow teetering precariously on the boughs of every single tree, it was quite a challenge to find wood, so we resigned to a quick but tasty meal cooked on our stove, set up our tent on packed snow that had us sinking to the thighs a short time before, and headed to bed for a long and dark but warm and cozy night in our puffy down sleeping bags.
The next day we awoke to a world of white. Snow on the ground, snow in the trees, snow in the air, snow everywhere!
With warm coffee and a hearty breakfast in us to keep warm, we decided to head off for the day to explore the area. Heading off across (and in Lisa’s case, under) the snow, we reveled in what was truly a spectacular winter wonderland.
The helpful friend who initially suggested the area also mentioned that there may be a cabin nearby that we could look for. There are rumours of secret cabins scattered all across Vancouver Island that are free to use for those who will look after them and keep them unspoiled. Everybody keeps them a secret in the fear that a divulged location will result in a trashed cabin, making it nearly impossible to find out where they are hidden. With this rare tip in hand, we were determined to find out whether this cabin really did exist… and sure enough, by following some GPS coordinates and the tracks in the snow left by a midnight wanderer, we found it!
Knock knock- anybody there? It was unlocked! It was empty! There is a guest book- welcome to those who keep this cabin in good shape. We were free to spend the night! There was wood for the wood stove! A Christmas tree with free doobies for all hanging as decorations?? IS THIS ACTUALLY REAL!? Once we finally accepted our luck, it didn’t take us long to move in, break out the Christmas Eve snacks, and make ourselves comfortable.
For the next two days we got exactly what we dreamed of for Christmas. A warm and cozy cabin, quiet mornings reading Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Christmas songs played on one of the guitars kindly left in the cabin, the traditional Weber Christmas dinner of sausage, green beans, and potatoes, a traditional North American Christmas of a tiny little bird with stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and veggies, and some beautiful sunrises, and scenery that was truly stunning.
On Christmas Day we strapped our snowshoes back on for a bit of exploring, and climbed up a snowy peak to witness a pristine field of ice crystals glinting in the magnificent morning sun, framed by misty mountains and blue skies beyond.
The next morning we awoke to a world of freshly fallen snow that arrived to give us a final bit of snowy excitement for our hike out.
Off we went, back down the mountain, and as we came over the first rise looking down to the sea below, we were treated to a scene of beauty that neither of us will be able to forget for a very long time.
Down, down, down we went (with Lisa often falling down), back to our little car all covered in snow, and back home after a Christmas where we truly couldn’t have asked for more… unless of course our families are interested in tagging along next year…!?