Moun­tain, moose and break­fast bur­ri­tos

Bex Char­teris on her work­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in Bri­tish Columbia, Canada.

Adventure - - Contents - Words and Images by Bex Char­teris

Last year, my hus­band and I spent the sum­mer and au­tumn months work­ing high up in the Rocky Moun­tains of Bri­tish Columbia, Canada.

Fun fact: The Rocky Moun­tains stretch 4800kms from Bri­tish Columbia in the north to New Mexico in the south. To put that in per­spec­tive, the dis­tance from Cape Reinga to Bluff is a mere 2000km.

I worked as a cook and Tim was a horse wran­gler at a wilder­ness camp. Guests from all over the world would be flown in for ten days at a time, and it was our job to make their stay in the wilder­ness as en­joy­able as pos­si­ble. And it was wilder­ness in ev­ery sense of the word. There was no in­ter­net or TV. No phones, ex­cept an emer­gency satel­lite phone. No elec­tric­ity. No roads. The only ac­cess was by a tiny four-per­son plane onto a nar­row grass airstrip. Or, al­ter­na­tively, a six-day trek on horse­back from the near­est high­way. We lived in rus­tic wooden cab­ins that were heated by wood fires. Cook­ing was done over a gas stove and en­ter­tain­ment was evenings spent around a camp­fire. The land­scape vast and con­stantly chang­ing. Moun­tains and val­leys, glaciers and forests. Sum­mer green turned to au­tumn hues of red and orange and yel­low. There were bril­liant blue skies, evenings with blaz­ing sun­sets, clear nights with shoot­ing stars. By late au­tumn, snow and ice would set­tle in a white blan­ket over the for­est. WILDLIFE: The wildlife was a con­stant source of fas­ci­na­tion, with in­quis­i­tive moose wan­der­ing through camp, por­cu­pines that gnawed on cabin walls, moun­tain sheep with mas­sive curved horns, en­er­getic chip­munks, pow­er­ful bears, howl­ing wolves. On my very first day in the wilder­ness, I was alone in camp. I was strolling from the out­house back to the kitchen when a griz­zly bear wan­dered down the path to­wards me! It was about a hun­dred me­ters away from me, and looked solid, brown and very large. Luck­ily I was out of sight, be­hind a tree. In hind­sight, their sense of smell is so acute that I’m sure the bear knew I was there, but at the time I had the il­lu­sion of be­ing hid­den!The bear rose up on its hind legs, sniffed the air, then leisurely scratched its back against a tree, and saun­tered off down the path away from me, to­wards the river. The whole episode lasted maybe a minute, tops. And I was too en­thralled to feel afraid. It was a beau­ti­ful crea­ture. A reg­u­lar vis­i­tor to camp was a mother moose with her young calf. They would wait un­til the horses had been re­leased from the cor­ral, then they would sneak in­side and munch on the salt lick. We were told that this was com­mon be­hav­iour for the lo­cal wildlife, since it was hard to find nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring salt in the for­est.

Fun fact: Wild an­i­mals lick salt for min­er­als like sodium and cal­cium, which aid bone and mus­cle growth.

As au­tumn pro­gressed, the lo­cal chip­munk pop­u­la­tion kicked into life. They would climb up the nearby spruce trees and throw down the cones in great quan­ti­ties, in prepa­ra­tion for the com­ing win­ter. One of these trees was out­side the kitchen, strate­gi­cally lo­cated above the main thor­ough­fare. It felt a bit like dodge­ball at times! Wolves were elu­sive be­ings who made their pres­ence known at night, howl­ing across the val­ley. I never saw any, but there were al­ways fresh tracks each morn­ing, in the soft dirt by the river. Por­cu­pines were insane crea­tures. I had al­ways pic­tured them be­ing the

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.