When my daughters were young, I imagined sharing mountain time together. Of hiking and skiing in the backcountry. Of getting away together to places far from the maddening crowd, where Internet and cell phones did not interrupt being present in the presence of being together.
This weekend my youngest daughter and I created magic together on a trip into the backcountry to Twin Falls Chalet, a remote mountain lodge run by the irrepressible Fran Drummond.
It was a weekend of pure bliss. Of time to kick-back, relax, spend time with my daughter, and to push myself physically. It was also an unexpected gift to fall in love all over again with being in the mountains.
I had forgotten. Forgotten how mountain time, especially in the backcountry, is restorative and rejuvenating. And in this time of my rejuvenation post leaving the formal workforce, it was a welcome and much appreciated respite.
The hike into Twin Falls Chalet is not a cakewalk, but it is beautiful. It’s just over 8 kilometers with about a 300 metre elevation gain to the Chalet. Lots of switchbacks and lots of views that take your breath away. (Our second day we hiked the 10km trail – up to the top of the falls (another 350 metres elevation gain) and then hiked along the Whaleback down to Marpole Lake and back to the Chalet — exquisite!)
Arriving at the Chalet Friday evening felt like finding Hansel and Gretels cabin in the woods, without the mean old witch stoking the fire.
Instead, you stumble into the Chalet to be greeted with a warm welcome and offer of coffee by its proprietor, Fran Drummond, a tiny speck of a woman with 82 years of life under her belt and an attitude that goes on into forever.
As my daughter and I were hiking out yesterday we talked about Fran and her incredible attitude. There’s no ‘end game’ for Fran. There’s just ‘the game of life’, and one she sees herself playing with every bit of her being until her last breath in some distant future. Fran sees herself going and going and going, continuing to run the lodge, which she’s overseen for the past 57 years, with the same passion and vigor she does now. She’s feisty, determined, stubborn and did I mention opinionated?
Sitting down to an incrediblely hearty and delcious meal at the large family style table includes Fran’s recounting of stories of her years spent hosting dinners and guests at the Chalet as well as her work in the oil patch as a librarian for a major oil company and a trainer. It also comes spiced up with her commentary of Parks Canada, how Canada is working (or not) and what the government, on every level is doing wrong (with a few rights tossed in with the same elan as the Amaretto she’d liberally sprinkled over the fresh peaches she’d hiked in earlier in the week that she served for dessert on Saturday night along with fresh baked Butter Tarts straight out of the wood burning oven). Fran is that unique ingredient that makes the stay at Twin Falls so enchanting, invigorating and fascinating.
At one point Fran told us that she was considering running as an MP for the PC party but she wasn’t sure she could take 4 years of living in Ottawa. “Why would you want to?” I asked.
“Because Canada’s not working,” she replied, nodding her head and giving us her mischievious grin and laugh. “Everybody’s got a responsibility to make it right and I can’t just give up.”
Giving up is not in Fran’s books. And, even though Parks Canada is looking to shut the chalet down at the end of this year for a major overhaul next spring that will see it out of operations for 2020, Fran is determined to fight them to the bitter end.
Having spent the weekend amidst the rustic and magical environment of Twin Falls Chalet listening to Fran share the history and lore of the area, I believe her. She will not give up.
I spent a weekend in the backcountry with my youngest daughter. It was a beautiful time spent connecting and communing with nature.
It was pure Love in action.
I forgot my reading glasses — which made reading and writing challenging. I also didn’t take in any paints and only had a ball point pen to work with. it was kind of fun and challenging!