“Few places come close
to such beauty! Tranquil birds, playful rivers,
friendly elk. Lovely to
relax surrounded by gorgeous mountains
even on a rainy day. A wonderful way to remind
us that there is really so much more than our busy lives and that we should always treasure the tranquility the wilderness brings. Thanks for
making us so welcome here.”

-THE NDEGWAS, South Africa

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Our host and the entire population of the town—in other words, the two prospectors who were camped close by—stood [in the log cabin] awaiting us at the dining room…It was a delicious meal, for you must remember that most of the condiments had been packed on horses for hundreds of miles. We had fish (just caught that afternoon), potatoes, and beans. Pickles, tea, coffee and cocoa were added to the list, and some cheese….we were such a curious little company gathered together in haphazard fashion in so faraway a corner of the globe, that, while jest and merriment went round, I watched us all, myself included,….and I judged…that all hearts wished the civilized days might never come…: ‘Here’s to a life of unnumbered summers in the mountains, with stars above by night, sunshine and soft winds by day, with the music of the waters at our banquet.’ Civilization! How little it means when one has tasted the free life of the trail!

MARY T. S. SCHÄFFER, Old Indian Trails of the Canadian Rockies, 1911

Although we don’t need horses to pack our food and condiments in anymore, nor are you likely to find among the small company of other guests a group of old-time prospectors, the above quotation describes one kind of feeling we’ve always enjoyed out here at CrossRiver. It’s a feeling that is sparked and described differently in and by everyone I talk to, but which always seems to essentially return to peacefulness. I remember when we first arrived out here, almost 20 years ago now, (before we had the solar-powered water line directly to our log cabin), having to walk out with a bucket every day to fetch water from the creek, even in a meter and a half of snow. I really disliked that job some days, but did I ever get to know that creek: how it continually shifted and changed with the seasons and the weather; its colorful and breathing bed of stones; its calming voice in the evenings; its fundamental connection to community through the myriad bear, squirrel, deer, elk, and cougar tracks I frequently found in the same places I walked. Eventually, my relationship with the creek began to deepen into one of respect, non-judgment, and equality. Prior to all the thoughts, anger, or excitement of my life, there was always an interdependent and necessary circle of relation with the creek—we were just as we were, that’s it, and it is so peaceful. Whenever I think about that for a minute, and realize what kind of gift such insights about our relationships with nature offer to this diverse world we live in today, I can’t help but feel the waters of my own soul shifting.

The creek still runs over this land much like it did 20 years ago—it’s still changing and shifting with all its relations. Our water line now from the creek is simply a natural gravity-fed line, where we not only get our drinking water (cleaner than any water you would ever get out of the tap in any city), but also most of our energy to run the main lodge. We also have natural solar power supplementing the creek in the lodge, as well as for the lights in each of the cabins. And we can’t forget the natural outdoor wood-fired hot tub on the main lodge deck, with views of the mountains out across the Kootenay Valley. Our cook’s meals are healthy, delicious, gourmet meals prepared with natural organic foods and wild traditional meats, whenever possible. The cabins themselves are a part of Canadian Rocky Mountain history (described on the history page here), and, even after being refurbished for modern safety and aesthetic purposes, they still contain the old turn-of-the-century stories, like those in the quotation above, within the grains of their original wood, walls, floors, doors, and windows. The cabins, main lodge, and teepee encampment were all placed and put up with respect for humans and non-humans. We purposely kept the trees surrounding everything, and we committed ourselves to participating with the landscape, instead of dominating it. People from all around the world have since come here and contributed their own stories to the larger ever-unfolding one that is continually reflected by the creek and the land. Some come just to relax and rejuvenate in nature, some to engage with it through a variety of adventure activities. Whatever the circumstance that brings you here, we are honored to be a part of people’s lives in a peaceful way, which does not disregard our relationship with nature or civilization, but necessarily deepens them both together—right down to our own souls.

Troy Patenaude, September 2007



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