It's been just over a year since my friends and I started The Saskatchewan Border, and I've grown to appreciate how easy it is to trace our own history. I'm still not sure what we're trying to accomplish, though we've surely grown from amateurs to slightly more competent amateurs. It's fun to look back, and this site lets us do just that.
But by the end of 2015, I was no longer having fun. I had rewritten the "About" page to this site so many times, it lost all meaning. Overexposure to the internet had no doubt fried my brain and I needed a detox, bad.
For a retreat, Teisha and I decided to go on a cross-country ski trip to one of the shelters at Duck Mountain. She's considerably less pensive on frivolous matters, which is what I needed to be around. She was also excited to see the trails I had talked-up. Maybe we could hammer out some new plans for the year and put a light at the end of the tunnel.
"I've never tried cross-country skiing before, but if it's anything like downhill, I'm going to hate it." Teisha said. I hadn't gone cross-country skiing for over a decade, but it didn't stop me from trying to reassure her that it can't be much harder than snowshoeing.
Excited to be outside on a gorgeous day, we locked in our skis and hit the trail from Batka Lake. I waddled my way to the gate before involuntarily careening down the first slope with no control. Teisha's idea of "hitting the trail" is apparently falling three times, less than 10 feet from the car. I had forgotten to wax the skis. We abandoned the skiing component of our journey and opted for hiking boots instead.
Laughing off the rough start to our voyage, we continued on our way to Ski Hill Shelter, roughly 6 km thanks to an accidental detour. Change has always been part of the plan.
I was antsy after several breaks to shed extra layers or pack away the mitts. But we made it to Ski Hill Shelter with a decent amount of sunlight to spare. We got a fire running in seconds. Not that we needed the heat, but everything I owned was soaked.
"...Something is different about the shelter," I remarked, finally taking the time to look around. There had been some renovations since our last trip and the entire shelter was now insulated. It's impressive how much hard work goes into these trails.
"How is this place not more popular?" Teisha asked. But I didn't have an answer. Its charm would be lost if it were not under the radar. I wondered what motivates people to take years and years of effort to build this. It couldn't be for money or popular acclaim. Maybe it's just as rewarding to create something that will only be enjoyed by a few.
After cooking a heavy supper over the furnace, Teisha retired to the loft for a nap while I investigated the firewood supply outside. The distant hum of snowmobiles disappeared along with the sunlight. From then on, it was quiet.
I wandered back and forth from the woods gathering deadfall that could be used for a campfire. But the Pink Floyd-esque lightshow that the stars were putting on eventually caught my attention. I forgot how dark the night sky could be.
"Clearly, I'm not getting outside enough," I admitted... Or, I'm just not getting outside for the right reasons anymore.
Teisha stepped outside to join me in some stargazing. We cracked open a couple bottles of wine and stoked the campfire, illuminating the surrounding forest. Even with hours of darkness, we stayed up well past midnight.
What do you have planned for this year?" Teisha asked.
"I don't know, but I sure as shit don't want to create more garbage. The internet has enough," I said, with immediate regret. I was embarrassed that this was the first thing that came to mind.
"—I mean...I've got a few ideas. Winter camping trips. I'd like to do a solo-trip somewhere, or we could camp in the badlands...I want to go canoeing more. And in the fall, I can't wait for the Armit River Canyon to kick our ass. It'll be great!" I spouted off, like a kid telling Santa what he wants for Christmas.
Ahh... There was that feeling of excitement again.
The next day, we hiked back to the vehicle feeling renewed and ambitious. I was excited again, whether for nature, adventure or creating something new just for the hell of it. As long as we keep having fun, the work is worthwhile-- no matter which direction we're heading.