Sometimes you just have to laugh at the moments life present you, or at your own stupidity; whichever is more befitting.
The winter of 2013-14 I spent a lot of time travelling around British Columbia from job to job. I worked eleven weeks with nine different employers that season. In the pursuit of becoming a guide the idea was to get lots of experience in lots of different environments. Different mountain ranges are subject to different climates, and so different snowpacks. Becoming a guide with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) requires experience in a variety of snowpacks. Being from Pemberton, I was well familiar with the Coastal snowpack but less so with that of the Interior mountain ranges such as the Rockies, Selkirks, Monashees, Purcells, etc.
It was a lot of driving to go to these various operations all over BC but don't get me wrong, I've come to liking a lot of the driving. Put on a podcast like "This American Life" or "Radiolab" and an hour is gone in a flash. Doing it for 8-11 hours... repeatedly? A little less fun. Not to mention a little expensive and sometimes scary. It was however quite beautiful at times. Most of the photos in this post are the result of the driving that season.
To avoid driving back and forth between home in Pemberton and these operations in the interior, I made an attempt to line them up in my calendar by location. That way I would go straight to the next one. This was a good idea and a bad one. It left me with really tight schedules to hit. What's worse is helicopters are often involved. It's not hard to get set back by weather leaving one place but it's extremely important to be on time for the flight in. A bad combo! On the flipside, sometimes I had too much time where I'd have no place to go. Good thing I had the foresight to buy a minivan. Take out the seats and I've got a camper. That said, even with candles burning in a converted tin, 2 sleeping bags and half a dozen blankets, things could get pretty darn cold and lonely in the back.
So, to the event of our story! When you work your butt off in these lodges, you always don't get time to shave and shower. When you're driving to the next one you might be feeling kind of like a dirtbag. This is not always the greatest impression to have on the next new employer. One particular morning I was feeling especially dirtbaggy. I had just slept on the side of the road not far from the parking lot of the meeting place for Monashee Powder Catskiing. Though I didn't stink (too much), my unshaven, unkept, awkward length facial hair had to go. This I just knew positively just like any 21 year old is positive about all his/her "great" ideas.
So with less than an hour before the meeting time I reached behind my seat and rummaged through my bag to pull out my razor. Razor blade head is more accurate. I don't carry around the handle to save space and instead just use the blades in a pinched hand. Using the rearview mirror, the first stroke went fine. Right down the middle of my cheek, a dry white/pink and dirty blond contrast. The second stroke didn't make it half a centimeter before getting caught in the facial hair. It tugged hard and it hurt. This wasn't a particularly new set of blades. Did I mention it was dry? There wasn't a drop of water left in my car and I knew that. So I kept working at it, sliver by sliver; pulling at my face, looking at my reflection with blurry eyes and wondering how many cuts I have so far. I spent about 30 minutes working at this in pain and cussing my own stupidity. Time was running out and fast. I look like my vocabulary should be "uhg" and "ooo" and my name should be "THAG" or something of the sort. Where in my right mind did I think this would go well; nothing but a razor and a mirror in a minivan? Things called for desperate measures.
Snow would have been an easy solution but with none of that left at these lower elevations, I open the car door and see a puddle below. Not the pretty kind of clear blue puddle that a little girl with yellow gumboots would seek but instead the roadside-slush kind of puddle you wouldn't drink from if your life depended on it. Light brown, oily looking and probably salty. I didn't waste a moments time dunking my hand and razor in it. I smeared the water all over my face, confirming the saltiness of it and the smell of gasoline. Dermatologist approved. Every few minutes I'd reach out again to clean the razor blades with my trusty puddle and continue.
When I pulled into that parking lot not a minute too soon, I yanked out my duffle from the trunk, walked up to the gore-tex covered group of people and starting shaking hands.
Clean shaven, professional, ACMG ready.