Many of the photos in this post are thanks to Nick Matwyuk. You can view his photographs here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/freeheel_freedom/sets/72157633701143172/
Prologue I'm sitting on the low railing of a bridge looking at my feet blankly, willing them to go back into my touring boots painlessly. They don't. I inhale deeply feeling the blisters burning. To the left 2.6 is spray painted in blue onto the concrete of the bridge. 2.6 kilometers are left till we reach the million dollar bridge crossing the expanse of the glacier fed Klinaklini River. Our rough estimates show another 5 kilometers to the logging camp at the head of Knight Inlet. It's been a long journey. Today is day 24 since we left our cars on the Nusatsum Forest Service Road in Bella Coola and at 8:30 tomorrow we have a plane ride to civilization. I choke a desperate cry as I stand., the pain is almost unbearable. Today so far has been boulder scrambling, hours of dense bushwacking with 20 kilometers of logging road to put a cherry on top. All this with the heavy pack mounted with skis has caused my boots to eat my feet raw. Having wet liners from river crossings yesterday probably isn't helping either.
With my teammates disapearing around the corner I shoulder the heavy pack with the long skis swinging wildly as I throw it on. My walk starts out as more of a hobble moving at barely a snails pace. As pain coarses through my feet, I hiss through clenched teeth and I try to think of all the things that have kept me going this far along this forsaken logging road. A warm shower, a bed, pizza, electricity and all the other comforts of civilization. The pain in my feet stymies these thoughts quickly and in the end the same questions keep nagging away at me. What am I doing out here in the middle of nowhere anyways? What was I thinking? Am I allowed to quit?
It was 7:30 in the evening on April 22nd when Tim Blair, Nick Matwyuk and Artem Bylinski picked me (Sam McKoy) up in Pemberton. Gear was immediately sprawled all over the driveway as we tried to pack 4 of us and all our food and gear into Nick's black Jeep. Once squeezed in we took off north towards our start point in Bella Coola. After a late night camp and an early wakeup in a forestry camp site near the Frazer River Canyon we finished the beautiful drive to the Bella Coola valley. Here we met up with the rest of our crew, Florian Assman and Michal Rozworski. All rounded up we made our way up the Nusatsum FSR to the washed out bridge. With gear sprawled everywhere, we organized our packs awaiting the helicopter.
"Hurry up and wait", as the expression goes.
With skis and food, our packs would each total 80-95lbs so we elected to organize a heli lift from the washout to a landing location above Ape Lake. While organizing gear, we were fortunate to meet forestry workers meeting to discuss rebuilding the bridge. They directed us as to where to leave the vehicles as there would be blasting soon. The cars would be picked up by another crew doing the Monarch Icefield in reverse and the Coast Mountain Traverse Crew as they made their way to Bella Coola. Soon the low thwacking sound of the helicopter could be heard and we rushed to our stations. As the heli landed, dust shot into our eyes and small rocks pelted our faces. Renown pilot Richard Lapointe from West Coast Helicopters would be flying us in today in two loads. As Richard swooped, spiraling between the tight trees for the second load, we readied our packs and covered our skin. Flying above the Nusatsum River we spotted the Coast Mountain Crew heading out. Richard greeted them with a hammerhead dive from above before continuing on past Polar Bear Peak, gleaming in the sun.
It wasn't long till the 6 of us were alone, wooping from the excitement of the flight. The beauty of our surroundings and the thought of what lay ahead was setting in and large grins of anticipation spread accross our faces. With the immensely crevasse'd and hanging Purgatory Glacier to the right and the beautiful Jacobsen summits ahead we shouldered our heavy packs and donned our skis.
Our adventure begins.