One winter weekend a bunch of my friends and I decided to cross-country ski into Bow Hut for an overnight in the Canadian Rockies. Bow Hut is an alpine hut located at an elevation of 2,350 metres (7,710 ft) on the eastern edge of the Wapta Icefield in Banff National Park. I knew the trip was going to be a little wilder then usual because we were all told to rent some avalanche beacons from the University of Calgary Outdoor Program.
The plan was to meet on Friday in Calgary, then drive up to Num-Ti-Jah Lodge on the Icefields Highway (Hwy 93). We would park our cars there and then spend the rest of the day cross-country skiing into Bow Hut. The hut sleeps around 30 people.
Well, we got a late start and by the time we got to the Lodge it was around 3 PM. We spent a bit of time learning how to use our avalanche beacons and by the time we headed out across the frozen lake, a snow storm was coming in. Winter days are quite short in Canada and the sun went down around 6 PM. So, we soon found ourselves skiing in the dark up a narrow gorge called the mousetrap, with our headlamps on, in a snowstorm.
The trip into Bow Hut is about a five hours so we knew we had our work cut out for us. But the group was up for a challenge. We love this kind of stuff. We had a couple of girls travelling with us. One girl, Chunlee, had boots on that were too small and she quickly developed some severe blisters. So, we split into two groups. A small group went a little slower with Chunlee and the group that I was in went ahead.
After about four hours we found ourselves working up a headwall (steep side of a mountain) in the pitch dark in a full blizzard. The snow was so deep that if you stepped off your skis you would sink up to your hip. Unfortunately, the girl in our group also had faulty equipment and she was frequently coming out of her bindings and finding herself stuck in snow up to her waist.
Then something very scary happened. We heard an avalanche coming down the mountain. We could only see a few feet in front of us, so we had no idea where it was. We did not know if it was coming down on us or coming down behind us. Trust me, it was very unnerving!
And on top of that, we did not know if the slower group might be caught in it. There was just no way to know in the darkness and blizzard. Fear plays tricks with your mind and the girl in our group started to become a bit panicked. Frankly, it was quite understandable. It was not a good situation.
Have you ever had to deal with extreme fear? It has not happened to me very often, but I have learned that fear does not help. Fear can paralyze you. It can cause you to make bad decisions.
That night, we stopped and prayed. Prayer is always a good idea! Trusting God to help you is one of the best ways to conquer fear!
Then, we took time to support and reassure the girl in our group. We told her, that if worse came to worse, we would personally carry her to the cabin. She quickly calmed down and within the hour we saw a small stream of light and followed it safely to the cabin.
I have learned that fear does not come from God. The Apostle Paul said it this way: “God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” If you are ever in a situation where fear comes, learn to trust God. God has given us power over fear. God wants to remind us of His love. God says that “perfect love casts out fear.” Also, God wants to remind you that He has given you a sound and whole mind. Fear does not have to be a part of your life. Fear can be conquered! Trusting God is powerful!
Comment from Michael Stewart: Yes Mark I recall this trip – it was David Peterson, Chunlee and myself in the second group with David out front looking for ski tracks that had blown in….and I think I kept Chunlee nourished with all my yummy snacks…it was a relief to finally see the light of the cabin!!
Comment from Chunlee Jackson: haha yes! I’m so glad we made it back alive but I do have to be honest, I was praying the whole time! And now we have a story to tell about our adventure! 🙂
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