“Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.”-Carol Bishop Hipps
Thanksgiving weekend, Adam and I went to Kelso Conservation area for the Fall into Nature event. It was on for two weeks on the weekend leading up to Thanksgiving. It had wagon rides, archery lessons, hay mountain for kids, but the reason we went was for the chairlift rides and the hiking.
I used to go every Saturday in the winter from 5 years old to 14 years old for skiing or snowboarding lessons. I learned to both at this ski hill. I remember learning to ski over the on the bunny hills on the other side of the train tracks then coming to the big hill and learning to do the moguls. Now our class was lined up on top of the moguls to go one by one. So it was my turn, went over them but fell just underneath the mogul. Ya we always fall and get back up. But do you know how hard it is to get up on skis? Hard. Do you know how hard it is to get up on skis when you are 5 years old and learning to ski? Harder. But do you know how hard it is to get up while another skier in your class uses you as a mogul? The hardest. I don’t know if he tried to use me as a jump or just didn’t know, but skied right over top of me. Yes it was traumatizing then but I can’t type this without laughing right now. Ask my friend Sherry who was at the top of the hill and I’m pretty sure she thought I was dead (Spolier alert: I didn’t die-phew!) They had to call the ski patrol to come collect me like the broken roadkill that I was and take me to the first aid cabin. They lifted me onto a stretcher, neck brace and all, attached to a snowmobile and went down the hill. They checked me over and gave me hot chocolate that had “magic” in it. Now I was never brought up being talked to like a baby, so when I looked in my cup and saw no magic, I turned to my Mum all confused and said “There’s no magic in here?”. At 5 years old I was bemused to find out someone was lying to me about magic in my cup.
Anyways, Adam and I rode up the first time on the chairlift by ourselves; there weren’t too many people waiting to get up. Now as I said before I’ve been on quite a few ski lifts and know what I’m doing, so when I heard the guide in front explain it 20 times ahead of me to other hikers, I said quietly “Don’t worry, I’ve been on ski lifts before so you can save your voice.” He laughed and we talked about the weather, as one does when small talk is on order. As the chair started to swing around, I yelled back “Wait! I lied I forget what I’m doing!” Only to see Adams face horrified. I had forgot that Adam has only really ever been on a gondola in Whistler. My face fell as well as I had to say just kidding quickly and just sit down on the chair. I guess I never realized that Adam doesn’t like heights as much, or at all, like I do. Me and my big mouth!
We finally got to the top and had a picnic of left over turkey sandwiches and apples we had picked the week before from Puddicombe Farms. I made a cranberry mustard from a recipe I found on Pinterest: Cranberry Mustard and Turkey Sandwiches I tweaked the recipe to be a regular sandwich on ciabatta buns instead of a panini. They came out really well, and for someone who doesn’t really like either on turkey, they sure worked well together.
We picked a spot well away from the open chair lift and sat by the Challenger/Sidewinder trail. It was practically deserted. While we were eating I heard something like panting or heavy breathing, I looked at Adam thinking he was REALLY liking my sandwich that I had made, but it wasn’t him. We were mid bite when three heads popped up over the hill in utter shock. It was three 12 year olds racing up the hill . I guess they didn’t see us as they broke the crest because they were so out of breath and kept their heads down. But they were a mere 4 feet from our blanket when they realized they were the ants invading our picnic. We laughed so hard as we also startled the next people in their group with the same thing.
The picnic bag, which we got for a bridal gift from Aunt Patti, had an insulated area for the food, glasses, plates, napkins, and the picnic blanket I’m sitting on. It had been well used these past 4 and a half years. The picnic blanket is perfect for snuggling up on, but it’s a little to small for my rump and Adam to sit on together. So I have bought some flannel plaid in the same colour and I’m going to make a bigger picnic blanket for next time. I’ll be posting that one maybe next near when all of the homemade Christmas presents have been completed.
After lunch, we went back down to use the bathroom and wanted to get the chairlift back up to do hiking around the top. There was a bigger line up this time but we still wanted to go up by ourselves though. The line grew shorter and shorter in front of us and there was a family of 5 (two grandparents, two parents and one 4 year old) that was in front of us (chairlift only seats 4). So the guide asked them how many, they said 5, guide said “Ok well we’ll have to split you up 3 and 2”. The family replied “No it’s ok, we’ll just hold our son on our laps”. Ummm this isn’t a bus, this is an open aired half couch made of metal with a flimsy bar to maybe catch you if you fall. Yes I would like to hold my son in a metal contraption with a movable restraint bar 15 meters above the ground; that sounds safe. So they complied and got in two lines. Then as they got closer they started to get together in a group again, but they got caught. These guys operating the lifts aren’t trying to split your family up, it’ll be too heavy, too squished, too dangerous. I notice things by eavesdropping and people watching around me, but Adam doesn’t seem as interested as I am and didn’t see this go down. So I had to roll my eyes to myself (I rolled them back at myself by the way).
We walked around the top and did the shortest loop and still managed to walk almost 5km around the top. The conservation area is open all year round for different activities and in the warmer months, it’s a big mountain bike attraction. Now if I was a mountain biker and I saw that they had an event going on where there will be a lot of kids and older people walking around, I don’t think I would go mountain biking that day. But alas, no one can be as perfect as me. It was like there was a mountain bike convention going on. They were racing by where kids were running around (it’s a kids event really) on the path and you could only hear the bikes as faint hums sounding like bees until they were too close and almost get hit.
We were (me only) determined to complete the trail that we were on and not loop around to go back the way we came. Now I would say my map reading skills on are fleek, but Adam would strongly disagree. It is kind of hard when the trails don’t line up with the shapes on the map. I thought we were lost at about 45 minutes into the trail and hadn’t seen or heard anyone in about 10 minutes, when I heard that swarm of bees sound that came with the mountain bikers. Oh thank god we had found civilization.
We rode the chairlift back down (which until that day, I had never done before) and took this last picture of Lake Kelso and the changing leaves of early autumn. We can’t wait to do it next year and hope it will still be as beautiful as this year.