A Helicopter Ride with the British Columbia Mountaineering Club on Film
Giving Back with SOLE
When your boss sends you an email at 1:44 p.m. on Friday regarding a free helicopter ride up to Watersprite Lake—you go.
Every two years, the British Columbia Mountaineering Club (BCMC) replenishes the stock of firewood for the cabin located at the alpine lake just outside the western edge of Garibaldi Provincial Park in the Pacific Range.
Each SOLE employee is allotted 20 hours to give back to a cause of their choosing during work hours, or in lieu of regular hours as part of our perks package. Just like adventure, giving back is at the core of our company and incentivizing team members to volunteer fosters a connection to our communities or causes we care about, while actively being a force for good. It also stirs up compassion and a sense of purpose beyond our own microcosms.
So naturally, as soon as this opportunity was put in front of me, the wheels were in motion to make it happen. I responded to the callout for volunteers on the BCMC website, and packed my film camera to document the day.
If you're new to volunteering, the idea of going out and meeting a bunch of strangers can definitely feel daunting. One thing is for certain though, you will find a common thread with someone there, while most of the others are probably sharing those very same feelings of apprehension. And if you're anything like me, that anxiety quickly melts away as soon as you show up, instead turning into feelings of connectedness and belonging.
At around 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning, 12 volunteers and our group organizer, the legendary David Scanlon, met up to carpool to the Watersprite Lake trailhead, about 20 kilometers east of Squamish on the Mamquam and Skookum FSR network.
Shortly after arriving and unloading, the distant buzz of Black Tusk Helicopter's Bell 206B-3 could be heard approaching. It crested a ridge and then could be felt as much as it was heard through the low hanging smoke from burning wildfires. Our pilot touched down, and proceeded to brief us on the helicopter and safety protocols when entering and exiting.
We were whisked up to the lake in less than 5 minutes in groups of 3—skipping the 8.5 kilometer hike that has taken roughly two and a half hours on previous visits. This was of course, so we had enough time and energy to store the awaiting loads of firewood.
The old saying "many hands make light work" was quickly proven true as our group carried out the task of transferring the firewood into the storage area underneath the cabin.
Now unfortunately, I don't have any photos of all the wood we moved, or of us doing the work, as we just got straight to it and I would have felt negligent stepping out of our human conveyor belt to take photos! I will say it was an impressive amount of wood—try picturing two years worth of firewood for an alpine cabin (it's cold up there, I've seen the lake still completely frozen in July for context)—and an even more impressive amount of time it took for us to move it all.
Afterwards, a small group had been chatting about taking a dip in the crystal clear turquoise lake, something I never pass up when there (unless the lake is still frozen).
We had a revitalizing dip in the chilly water looking up at the impressive Watersprite Tower (1810m) and proceeded to dry off in the hazy October sun, we were lucky it was still a balmy 26 degrees that day!
As lucky as we were to get a ride up the mountain, we were responsible for getting back down to the vehicles. Since we already gained so much free elevation and made such easy work as a team with the wood, another small group decided to "take the scenic route" back, going up and over Demon Peak (1784m) instead of the Watersprite trail.
The extra effort taking the long route home was validated as we reached the first ridge, with unobstructed views of Mamquam Mountain (2588m), Delusion Peak (2517m) and the surrounding mountains.
The mid-October wildfire smoke was casting a dreamlike haze over the landscape as we looked out on the seemingly never ending ranges.
As we reached the top of Demon Peak, I looked back towards where we came from and was greeted by this beautiful scene.
On top of a helicopter ride in the mountains, doing some good old physical labour, hiking, and contributing to an organization that helps maintain the vast network of trails and outdoor sites in the area—I made some new friends that day... A win-win-win-win-win.
If anything, I hope this small collection of photos and words may help inspire you to take a chance and go spend some time giving back to a community close to your heart. I'll surely be back for more.