Passing on my passion

My legs were locking up and I was beginning to regret the extra food and drink that I had packed prior to leaving Edmonton. My daughter, nearly one-year-old, sat clinging to her pack, her head drooping with fatigue. The three hours in the pack were starting to wear on her senses and the energetic noises and movements that filled the first couple hours were starting to wane.  My wife was keeping a positive outlook and provided the motivation I needed to push every step forward. My sister-in-law and partner were not far behind and had jumped onto my hair-brained idea to head into the mountains without much hesitation. Most people thought we were crazy for booking an alpine cabin for a vacation with our toddler. But her name is Sierra - to me, nothing felt more right.

It was then, years before meeting my wife and having a family, that I knew how I wanted my children to experience the world.

A decade prior, I was enjoying a beautiful evening at the base of a mountain just east of Pemberton, British Columbia. I was 23 years old and it was my second time in the mountains. Their beauty, grandeur, and immensity struck something deep inside of me; a love for the mountains and a desire to always cherish and share these special places. The slow trickle of the mountain stream filling the glacial lake couldn’t hide the sounds of people heading our way through the sparse, black spruce that call higher altitudes their home. I turned to see a child, not more than 6 years of age, walking down the path, followed soon after by his mother. She carried a sizeable pack but it seemed to be mostly frame and inside was the child's younger brother. Behind her, showing signs of stress and exhaustion was their father. He carried most of the packed weight, yet his sweat could not hide how proud he was of his family. They had reached their camping spot and it had not been easy. It had taken us a few hours to hike in with our gear and I couldn't imagine juggling two small children on top of it all. They settled in for a well earned night under the stars and peaks, not far from our campsite. It was then, years before meeting my wife and having a family, that I knew how I wanted my children to experience the world.


Back at our hike, Sierra had fallen asleep. Her head now hung to one side and bounced with every step my wife took. My legs may have cramped but she was still pushing forward and smiling; our child now asleep on her back and (unknown to us at the time) Sierra's baby sister growing inside her. I didn't think the cabin was far off, but I was wondering if we had bitten off more than we could chew.  Doubt was definitely setting in. Pushing through the pain of cramping muscles and everyone maintaining a positive attitude was the key to moving forward. As we rounded another bend, the cabin finally came into view and we all cheered. It was immediately worth the journey and the pain. The next four days were glorious. Sierra fell quickly into a new cabin routine, she bagged her first peak before she turned one, and we enjoyed many laughs and meals in a place that could only be described as majestic. There was no better way to spend time together.

The cabin that we had booked was a one-room log cabin set just below an alpine meadow not far from Valemount, BC.  To me, it was a beacon of freedom and connection with nature. I wanted to be there. I wanted my family to experience what I knew already.  This was a place that could make memories - a shared experience. 

Contributed by:

Tim Rollwagen @trollwag

PTBO --> DEStination

  • 4 hours by air
  • 9 hours by car
  • 4 hour trek

For more information about this hike, visit Valemount Trails. For the accommodations mentioned in this story, visit Hermit Thrush Cabins via Airbnb