Crossing the border and onto Fernie.

 Early Friday morning we left Montana and the US and entered the Canadian province of British Columbia. At about this time I was also hit with a sickness which felt somewhere between that of a flu and a cold. My throat was dry and painful beyond belief, my neck ached and my head felt like it would burst.

Nearing the border, we had some concerns the normally strict Canadian border guards would scrutinise our entrance into Canada, but we somehow got through in record time. The contrast between the Montana side of the border and the British Columbia side is fairly abrupt. The Canadian side is more densely forested and straight away you can notice the mountains becoming steeper. You can also see there is much more space between houses and properties.

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We got into Fernie at around 10am. Teeny and I walked around the town briefly, visited Sarah and Thomas at work in the afternoon and cooked them dinner later that night. The day was relatively clear, so we got a few glimpses of the mountains as well as the ski resort.

Much of Saturday was spent sleeping while Sarah and Thomas were at work. I was determined to get over my illness and bounce back quickly while Sarah and Thomas were at work. This sub-tropical dwelling boy was no match for the temperature difference, coupled with the lack of sleep. I think the jet-lag and the climate got to me, I hope to get any illness out of the way early on in this trip.

Sarah and Thomas arrived home with pizza and the plan to squeeze in a local game of ice hockey. I was certainly well enough to witness a sport I had only ever seen in the terrible Mighty Ducks movies of the early 90s.

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The Fernie “Ghostriders” played their arch rivals from the town of Kimberley. The game did not live up to its pre-game bloodbath prediction. There was only two or three fights of mention, most of which were barely handbags at ten paces. Last week’s game had six fights in the third period alone.

The Canadian ice hockey fans need to learn how to chant. The loudest person at the arena was a blonde haired woman with a high pitched voice. She led with the cliche chant of “let’s go (insert team name here), let’s go” accompanied by stamping feet or hand clapping. She did manage a few funny sayings, such as “Buckley’s got a haircut”, “Kimberley’s a girls name” as well as the slightly bemusing “Miller needs a girlfriend”.

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The game was a great spectacle though, it was also great to see so many people from a small town turn out to watch their team play. There were perhaps 200-300 people at the arena, I would suppose it to be around half the capacity. Beer from the local brewery was consumed, popcorn and the delightfully heart stopping Canadian delicacy of poutine was also on offer. Though we did not sample it on this occasion. We are saving it for The Poutinerie in Calgary.

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For the record, Fernie lost three goals to four in extra time. I can say that I am now a fan of ice hockey. It is basically futsal with a stick… But you can beat people up.

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A nights sleep that was not interrupted by fever or strange dreams meant I woke up Sunday morning feeling a lot better. My throat was okay but my head still hurt.

Thomas hit the slopes early to get in some powder skiing while the rest of us slept. He returned before we awoke, then Sarah was off to work so we decided to get in a walk in the forest to get ourselves a christmas tree. Darcy, Sarah’s dog would accompany us. He is a bit of a mongrel of a beast who seems to have a bit of everything in him. He has the face, legs and feet of a labrador, the demeanor, playfulness and energy of a husky and the build of some kind of North American Bear. He has had a few problems in his past, mainly revolving around his fear of children, but he is a lovely, gentle dog.

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The walk in the forest was amazing – a simple delight. I have never seen a forest so still and so quiet. All the colours were gone, sucked away by the winter – replaced by shades of grey. Darcy ran around in innocent joy. I can see why the great North American naturalists such as Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Muir and Jack London wrote such beautiful stories of the forests and wildernesses of this continent. The forest feels like a living poem waiting to be written. Photos cannot do it justice.

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John Muir said that “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks”. I could have sat in that forest and listened to the quiet creaking of the trees and watched the gentle flurries of snow. It is a truly spellbinding place to be. Where the Australian bush sometimes feels somewhat aggressive and harsh, the forests here feel gentle and soft. Even at zero degrees celsius, we were warm in our winter wonderland, the only people on the trail.

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The walk was only a short one, and would not classify as wilderness by any means. I have an urge to go into the backcountry and see what is out there. To be far away from anyone. I wish Lupa could be here to see it.

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We got our tree, a metre high specimen of perfect symmetry. Teeny and Sarah decorated it with lights and Teeny made an awesome star.

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That simple walk through the forest left me feeling infinitely better.

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-Rowan-

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