Most sledders who have ridden in Revelstoke have set foot within the quaint four walls that form Boulder Cabin. You have probably warmed your frozen hands in front of the stove while your gloves hung from the rack for all of 5 minutes in an attempt at thawing them. You have likely stripped down to your base layers and pulled that “sandwich” out of your backpack and crushed it while laughing at the day’s events so far and revisiting sled stories past with your buddies. If you’re that guy then you’ve lumbered down into the basement in your snowmobile boots to chop wood for the fire then lugged it back upstairs to stoke the fire so the next sledders coming in from the cold can share the same experience.
A lot of people come here to seek mountain solitude with their closest friends, finding untouched zones and exploring the backcountry — some of my own best days have been filled with the mountains less taken — but there is also beauty in the bustle.
You have been riding hard all day and your group decides to head to the cabin for frozen Clif Bars and any one of the 129 flavours of Gatorade. You melt your face off keeping that throttle pinned and doing mach speeds on the homestretch and pull up to dozens of brightly coloured machines — a rainbow of wrapped sleds formed in a loose semi circle around your destination. You climb up those steel steps — 89 in the early season, two in the middle of winter — and treacherously make your way across the slippery deck surface. From the outside you can already hear the laughter. From outside you can almost feel the happiness and excitement contained within the walls and when you swing the door open the warmth and enthusiasm hit you simultaneously.
You survey the scene; black Stealth Klim gear mixed with the colourful shades of Strikt’s Session pants on bodies, strewn on benches or hung on the rack over the stove. NW Sledder toques atop heads damp with the mixture of snow and sweat. Avalanche bags placed haphazardly around the room. And the people. The people. Different groups of people brought together solely by the love affair of this sport and when you’re all together in that little mountain top cabin it doesn’t matter if you walked in the door after enjoying a trail ride or bashing the tightest trees. It doesn’t matter if you ride a 2018 Skidoo or 2000 Yamaha. It doesn’t matter if it’s your third day on a sled or your 500th — you all walk in through the same door as the same thing; sledders.
As you sit down at your own table and shed your gear you recognize a face in the crowd and walk over to shake hands with the guy that rode by you, saw you were stuck and pulled your skis. After two minutes of conversation you appreciate that the world really is a small place and the sledding community is even smaller when you realize he worked with your brother in Grande Prairie. After you exchange contact information — if your phone isn’t dead from the cold — you go back to your own table and eat your lunch surrounded by enthusiastic conversations about which can is the best, why 3 inches is the only way to go and jubilation over a perfectly executed reentry.
You glance outside through the window and see the snow shining like diamonds in the afternoon sun. The thought of untouched areas and new adventures propels you out of your seat back into your gear. 15 minutes ago you entered the room as a stranger but after laughter over a conversation about modified tracked Toyota Camrys you feel compelled to say goodbye and good shredding to the friends you just made.
Yes, I love and appreciate my own version of the cabin life. I look at one of Revelstoke’s most iconic cabins and I am grateful it’s there and so lovingly maintained. I love that I have countless memories there — sitting on the deck with my best friend after a spring ride and watching a thunderstorm turn the white hills purple, seeing the soft light cast a warm glow like a beacon in the dark after a clear skied night ride and even that time I needed a place to rest and warm my weary body after an injury to prepare for the trail ride down.
It can be a shelter from the storm. It can be a sanctuary. It can be a place of gathering, a destination, a point of rendezvous. But when you’re on the mountain it’s home.
Maybe your cabin isn’t Boulder Cabin, maybe your cabin isn’t even in Revelstoke. But surely you have a cabin somewhere in the world and surely when you walk in the door it feels like home.