It was -35C when we headed out, yes you read that right. Along with a couple million other Canadians we live locked in a deep freezer for 8 months of the year, for most of those months we merrily cope plying ourselves with beer, hockey and the optimism that spring will eventually come and the summer will be a “good” …..this year! All this jolly ‘ole optimism though starts to wane as the winter drags on and by February everyone has a good case of cabin fever. You see, living in Calgary I fully expect to see the first snowfall around Thanksgiving and I know our temperatures will easily dip below -20 in November- hey its Canada and its winter- no big deal. As temperatures steadily dive and snow accumulates in December no one really notices because we are stoned on Christmas baking and eggnog. In January you know that it will be -40 but the optimism of a New Year takes over and you think to yourself “I will just bundle up a little more.” Now all of this takes its toll so by late February as we wade through record snow fall and -34C to work we slowly start to lose the plot. It is easy to see when I am travelling down that slippery path into the mid-winter blues; I colour my hair. Usually a strange colour that once the sun and grass emerge in the spring I can only ask: “dear heavens what was I thinking?” For others the telltale signs are different yet highly visible; such as believing the Leafs will go all the way, believing we will have an early warm spring or that we won’t get a snow storm in May. These delusions are telltale signs of the winter blues. This emotional unravelling is highlighted by 3 distinct reactions; sadness, anger and paranoia. For example: just last my work colleague was telling me about a camping trip last year and as his eyes welled up we both knew the awful truth at -35 and snow past our waists- our Casper white skin had forgotten the feeling of sun….would there ever be another summer? All these months of optimism that summer would emerge triumphant-what if it never comes back? That is enough to make the toughest man cry. Anger is also at the forefront of everyone’s emotional artillery; last week another colleague spent most of the day looking out the window throwing out random curses against the weather. She was really mad, honestly if weather had walked through the door she would have been straight shooting! Of course, all this is underlined by paranoia….I heard tomorrow will be warm, do you think it will be warmer, will it stay warmer, I am not sure if it will get warmer, my goodness can it get colder, what will we do if it gets colder, I can’t manage another day of colder…..so my friends to the south…when you see flocks of Canadians invade your communities every year at about this time, we are in a fragile state and we ask for only a few weeks of your warm sun so that we can go home and face 3 more months of winter!!!!
So as I was saying, it was -35 when we left and we were tackling an epic road trip in the dead of winter-now that is adventure. The drive from Calgary to Great Falls is nothing short of boring and while the snow did add some variety, if you ever do this drive take some strong coffee and good tunes. The drive is worth it because just past Great Falls, Montana you reach the Beltline Mountains. The first view are my personal favourites the Little Belts. Winding throughout these rugged craggy mountains is the Missouri River and to me this place looks like heaven on earth. It is only a 5 hour drive from Calgary and it is my mission to spend a summer weekend there. As these posts are often unidirectional-telling you about my adventures-I hope that someone can offer assistance and advice on this one….any idea how to rent a cabin in this pristine little wonderland? I can imagine a weekend of climbing and paddling and look forward to making it a reality! So if any readers out there have insight into rentals in the Little Belts…I am all ears!
The Little Belts give over to the Big Belts and this drive is littered with hilly landscape, snow covered peaks and stunning beauty. As you head into Idaho the landscape stays the same and on a blue sky sunny day this drive truly is spectacular. We made it to Pocatello, Idaho on day 1 which is over a 1000km of travel but it didn’t feel like a long day at all. The Montana-Idaho corridor we travel really is a nature lovers paradise with abundant slopes and good snowfall for snowmobiling, cross country and snowshoeing. Our journey ends with my cool Idaho tip: you can buy beer in the grocery store-now fancy that!