Sunday, January 11, 2015

Chilcotin Holidays

A Mountain Adventure - Hiking Getaways

My first Night in a Kikwilly

It's hard to say and you can't imagine what it stands for until you have stayed in one. It's the winter accommodation for an extended First Nation family in central British Columbia which has been used for the last 10.000 years or so. On December 23, the snow was 18" deep and the temperature minus 25. We were going to spend the night in a Kikwilly in the middle of the wilderness! Upon our arrival I don't see anything but trees and snow. We're very alone, me, my daughter, and guide.

The guide calls us over into the woods and what we see is a crude wood door in the side of the hill. Upon entering and getting light going we see it's a huge vaulted dome of approximately 25' in diameter all entirely laced by golden log work, supported by massive posts, a fire in the center with a smoke hole directly above through the roof. The temperature inside is a balmy +10 degrees Celsius, but within an hour of the fire going, it goes up to a cozy + 15 - 20 degrees. We settled in quickly with basic chores - splitting wood, getting the fire going and chopping a hole in the ice on a nearby stream to get water through a hole while preparing dinner. We snacked on dried meat and nuts, as the water heated and dinner was prepared on top of the stove.

While dinner cooked, we organized our beds around the outer perimeter in the traditional way on buffalo hides. Instead of the fine furs, we used a modern sleeping bag. We could lay on the bed and watch the fire crackle and hear the conversation around the central cooking socializing fire.
After a 5pm dinner and clean up, the night was still young and time was passed telling stories about animal habits of the area. The bear is most revered as the Native Indian survival is so closely related to the bear hibernating during winter in an underground den. An Indian game Lahal, a social game like gambling, would normally be played. Instead, we played card games like Go fish and Crazy 8's. The glow of the fire, the flickering candlelight, the solitude and the big dinner soon induced sleep and we rolled into our buffalo hide beds.



 Sleep lasted 12 hours and can only be attributed to the silence, the darkness, coziness, and the obvious fact that there is nothing you can do without the artificial distractions we take for granted in our life. Breakfast was prepared over the fire - wash water is always on - chopping wood - carrying water and life chores are done. Normally time would be spent sewing cloths out of tanned hides, but instead we went looking for animal tracks in the snow and seeking sun on this bright, clear winter day.
I didn't know that life could be so simple, but I do know I need that balance, and am looking forward to my next hiking getaways!



Helen Williams, Vancouver, BC





Chilcotin Holidays

About Chilcotin Holidays

We are a licensed guide outfitter and we conduct guided wilderness adventures throughout our 5,000 square km operating area. This guide area has been operational since 1880, making it the oldest in British Columbia. More about us HERE.

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