In national park lore there are few places as sacred as the backcountry cabins that lie at those strategic locations in our parks dictated by distances and travel times, a reliable water supply and proximity to park boundaries, cabins that had histories as interesting as the people who trekked to them during fair weather and foul to find shelter and creature comforts after long days on patrol, conducting research or just getting out of the office and away from the bureaucracy that was as out of place in a park as the administrators who flogged it.
Backcountry cabins, if they had a voice, would have volumes to say about the characters that called them home, if only for a night, or the antics that played out between their four walls.
Thankfully there are logbooks.
For many, a cabin log was simply that, a place to register a date and name and the primary purpose of the trip that brought those named to the cabin in the first place. For many it was a formality, part of the cabin etiquette to make a logbook entry, no more or less important than sweeping and mopping the floor prior to departure.
For me, it was so much more.
And thankfully others shared that perspective.
For me, a cabin logbook was a blank slate aching to be livened up with the stories that inevitably flowed from any trip anywhere, but particularly backcountry trips that seeped with details too good to be stowed away in the deep recesses of someone’s memory, potentially lost to all but the owner’s closest friends, family, lover, dog or horse.
What a waste.
What a travesty.
Over the next little while I hope to relate some of the stories that made forays into the backcountry one of the most special aspects of working in our national parks.
In so many ways these stories can only be partially told as the setting is everything.
Mere words simply cannot do justice in describing places like the Lion’s Den in Terra Nova, Fishing Cove in Cape Breton Highlands, Sweetgrass Station in Wood Buffalo and Azure Lake in Jasper. These places can only be truly experienced in person so until you have the opportunity to seek them out, their physical description will remain part of the mystery.
I hope you enjoy what the Virtual Campfire has in store over the next little while and, if you are so inclined, please consider sharing your own stories about cabins you’ve visited and trails you’ve navigated as part of your exploration of Canada’s special places.
Simply send your stories to Write Nature (see Contact info) and I will promptly post them on the site.