Cabin at Alexis
This was a frequent scene during my stay in April
Our family has had a cabin on this lake for 35 years, and I had never seen the lake with ice on it. I decided this year I’d go up early. With the late spring, I got a real taste of winter.
Back in the 1970’s I was a ski patroller at Marmot Basin ski area in Jasper for about 6 years. This was a volunteer ski patrol, we dispensed first aid on the ski hill, and engaged in various forms of rescue from the ski area. There were two groups of patrollers who alternated weekends all winter; the “Roadrunners” and the “Camelherders”. I was a Camelherder. In mid-April, there was a 40th year anniversary party for the Camelherder group in Jasper, and it worked out for me to attend this celebration on my way to the lake. It was great seeing many of the old gang; most of whom I had not seen for about 27 years. I gave up patrolling the year my daughter Melinda was born.
When I arrived at Alexis Lake, it was in the late stages of winter. There were 5 trees down across the road into our cabin, and this trend will likely
Ski Patrol Reunion
40 Years of Camelherders. I am on the far left, back row.
continue for a while with all of the trees that were killed by the pine beetle. I was forewarned about the trees by a neighbour, and came equipped with a chain saw to cut my way in.
The snow melted and came back three times while I was there. Just as soon as it had almost all melted, it would snow again.
I had the lake completely to myself; I was the only one up there. It was pretty quiet. The only sounds were the wind and the birds. I didn’t even hear a car or airplane for the first week. I was feeding the birds with seeds, and with the numerous snowfalls, the birds soon found a steady source of food. I tried to count them once at a busy time and lost track at around 50. I was replenishing the feeders 3 or 4 times a day. A squirrel even managed to figure out how to get at the seed. It was funny watching him jump to grab on. He missed 5 or 6 times and fell to the ground each time before succeeding.
The types of birds most seen were red-winged blackbirds, chickadees, Oregon
Juncos, and Sparrows. I did see one Purple Finch. One day a Sharp-shinned Hawk came by looking for lunch and scattered the birds. They were obviously frightened, as they didn’t come back for a couple of hours. Other birds seen were one Pileated Woodpecker, one Great horned Owl, and numerous flocks of Sand hill cranes.
With the cold weather, I spent a fair amount of time with the necessities; staying warm, pumping water, and eating. I had to go out and cut firewood a few times to stock up on logs for the stove that would burn a little longer. Most days I kept a fire going from 6 AM until 11 PM. There were only two days that I let the fire go out in the afternoon as the temperature got up into the teens.
One of my tasks this trip was to continue my conversion of the cabin to solar energy. I installed two more solar panels (for a total of 3) and more 12 volt lighting in the cabin. I did not use the propane lights at all on this trip, the panels kept the battery well charged to allow the 12 volts lights to
be kept on all evening. With the wood stove burning all of the time, I did not use the propane stove either. I even baked some muffins, buns, and bread sticks in the wood stove’s oven.
On my 16th day there, a neighbour arrived so I had some human contact. I left the lake to come home on the 2nd of May; there was still two feet of ice on the lake. Spring is late this year.
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