WE RECEIVED SOME VERY SAD NEWS THIS MORNING. LEGENDARY CANADIAN FREESKIER DAVE TREADWAY DIED YESTERDAY, APRIL 15 2019. REPORTS ARE THAT HE FELL INTO A 100-FOOT-DEEP CREVASSE AT RHODODENDRON MOUNTAIN, CLOSE TO PEMBERTON IN BRITISH COLUMBIA.
WE HAD THE PLEASURE OF WORKING WITH DAVE AND HIS WIFE TESSA FOR OUR RECENT FAMILY ISSUE, DOCUMENTING THEIR FREE-SPIRITED FAMILY TRIP AROUND BRITISH COLUMBIA WITH THEIR TWO SONS, KASPER AND RAFFI, WHILE LIVING OUT OF A 21FT TRAVEL TRAILER. DAVE WAS A TRULY GIFTED SKIER WITH A WARM NATURE AND ADVENTUROUS SPIRIT. HE WILL BE MISSED BY THOSE IMMEDIATELY CLOSE TO HIM AND ALL THOSE HE HAS INSPIRED ALONG THE WAY. OUR THOUGHTS ARE WITH TESSA, KASPER, RAFFI AND ALL HIS FAMILY AND FRIENDS.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DONATE TO HELP SUPPORT DAVE’S FAMILY THEN CLICK HERE.
What makes a home? For the Treadway family it’s free roaming around British Columbia’s finest ski resorts, living out of a 21ft travel trailer
Words by Tessa Treadway
Photos by Michael Overbeck
What makes a home? This is something I have spent a lot of time thinking about since we moved out of our house back in 2014. We are the Treadways: my husband Dave and I along with our two sons, Kasper and Raffi, who are five and two. We live full time out of our 21-foot travel trailer, and for the past three-and-a-half years have enjoyed a lifestyle that doesn’t fit the norm.
We spent the majority of the 2017/18 winter ski season stationed in the parking lots of some of British Columbia’s best ski resorts. Skiing by day, making dinner, playing games and conducting our regular bedtime routine around our mini wood stove by night, in our 127-square-foot ‘home’.
What was the most memorable part of last winter? It was definitely this one, grand three-week adventure that removed us from our home and placed us out in nature exploring and marvelling at something new each day.
The Treadways skiing at the Tweedsmuir Ski Hill with Kasper Treadway watching. The skill is only open on Sundays and can have a max of 3 locals on at a time. Not to mention a 1.5 hr drive, and a 3km snowmobile to get in.
ON TO PLAN B…
Williams Lake, a city in a central BC region known as the Cariboo, is a destination in itself. It’s a gathering point for the Wild West of British Columbian cowboys, ranchers, trappers, hunters, fishermen and skiers. This is where we stock up on supplies. Dave’s strategy is always divide and conquer, so he and Raffi are off to fuel the truck, snowmobiles (which we transport in the back of our truck) and jerry cans. Meanwhile, Kasper and I are dropped off at the grocery store with my massive shopping list. I’m always thankful to have Kasper as my assistant as opposed to Raffi who is still at the age of wreaking havoc in every store!
We fill two entire grocery carts with all the food that will have to last us for the next three weeks. We pack everything into cardboard boxes and bring them out to load into the trailer. Minutes after the trailer is loaded and the door is shut, Dave notices a large crack in the frame of the trailer. It is in need of repair and will have to be left behind. We slowly tow our home to a local welder, who informs us that it will be ready for us to pick up on our return to Williams Lake in three weeks’ time.
So, time to come up with a Plan B. Part of our travelling and free roaming lifestyle has given us all a gift of being able to roll with the punches and take life as it comes. We had planned to have our camper with us for most of this trip, so as not to infringe on our hosts, but having made a few phone calls we are quick to come up with an alternative plan that involves both staying with friends and bunking down in a remote backcountry log cabin.
We empty what we need out of our trailer into our truck (leaving the camper as a complete bombshell of unnecessary gear that we will deal with on our return) and venture west and up, on to the plateau of the Northern Chilcotin until the coast mountain range is in sight. It’s a smooth and quick drive without our 21-foot home in tow, but a little strange to be separated from our simple comforts and amenities.
First stop, one of our favourite places on earth: a ranch in the heart of the Chilcotin Country. It is owned by our good friends, and there is something about the view, the sounds of nature – the wind, the lowing of a cow, the flap of an eagle’s wings overhead – and the welcome we get that feels like home. Beds are made up and we hit the hay, or rather our beds, thankful for a good night’s sleep after a day of travelling.
In the morning Cowboy DeWayne brings us fresh cinnamon raisin bread to go with the eggs the kids have collected from the chickens. After breakfast it’s time to help with the chores around the ranch – and to get a little ski action. The cows need to be fed. We watch the horses get hitched up, help load the sleigh with hay, click into our skis (Raffi is in a pack on my back) and are then towed through the fields behind the horses and sleigh.
We have a blast sliding along the snowy track and dodging horse and cow pies (this, of course, is the highlight for Kasper). I don’t think the cows are much impressed with our ski abilities, but they get fed nonetheless.
Kasper Treadway hitting a kicker that we built near our cabin in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park on the Chilcotin Plateau. March 2018.
REMOTE SKIING… AND BATHING
Our next stop is two hours’ drive west down the deserted road toward Bella Coola, where we unload our snowmobiles from the truck, all of our gear, pack it onto toboggans and head out into Tweedsmuir Park. One of the largest of BC’s several hundred parks, Tweedsmuir is home to shield volcanoes, Hunlen Falls, grizzly bears and fun ski terrain.
We have a short 2km snowmobile ride through an old burnt forest to arrive at our new ‘house’ for the week. This simple backcountry log cabin is where we will play, sleep, eat and, of course, ski; firstly in the surrounding woodland by snowmobile, and then, come Sunday, we will ride at the nearby East Branch ski hill, run by the 50-year-old Tweedsmuir Ski Club, which also manages the cabin.
After choosing who gets which bunk (the cabin has beds for up to six people), unpacking sleeping bags and organising the kitchen area, the next priority becomes building our bathtub – after all, the cabin has no bathroom, only a very rustic outhouse out back.
We borrow an unused cattle-feeding trough from Cowboy DeWayne. The boys develop a vision and get to work quickly. The tub gets taken down onto the frozen lake, 100m in front of the cabin. Trees are bucked up with the chainsaw to make a stand to hold the tub off the lake, stairs are made to enter and exit the tub, and wood is cut and split to create a fire underneath.
Dave uses the chainsaw to cut a hole in the ice to access the water below, and with buckets we take water from the lake and fill up the trough. A fire is lit underneath on a sheet of metal. The sheet of metal is very important as the water can get too hot, and this way the fire can be pulled out from under the tub.
Within 30 minutes the feeding trough is hot and ready to become our family bathtub. Sitting outside, in mid-winter, on a frozen lake covered in snow, deep in the forest, with my family in a giant trough of hot water may just be one of the best experiences I’ve had.
The next few days are spent skiing behind the snowmobiles on the perfect kid-friendly rolling terrain surrounding the cabin, and building jumps. Kasper is in heaven. After a morning sled skiing, we find a sheltered area in the trees to have lunch. Dave gets to work building a fire, with a little help from Kasper. They cut wood, carve out snow benches for us all to sit, then cover the seats with pine bows to keep our bums warm and dry. Then we all enjoy roasting sausages over the fire. There is a wood stove inside the cabin, but this is far more fun.
Raffi and I snuggle up by the fire, as he’s ready to nurse and have a nap. As I hold my peaceful, snoozing baby, again the question comes to my mind: what is home?
MEETING THE LOCALS
Sunday dawns bright and clear. Time to venture to the ‘local’ ski hill. East Branch, with its single 300m rope tow, is located 2km past the cabin, deeper into the backcountry, and is only accessible via snowmobile. Here the community of Bella Coola families who love to ski join us.
These families travel two hours by truck from Bella Coola, and 4km by snowmobile, every Sunday to fire up the gas-powered tow motor and hit the slopes. It’s a blast! One of the things that makes this place so awesome is the environment and community it creates. For the kids of Bella Coola, this is normal, and just part of their weekend routine. Families and friends are assisting each other to make it work, and having a great time while doing so.
Kasper is too little to manage the rope tow on his own, but there are lots of people who are happy to help shuttle him to the top between their legs. Raffi just enjoys napping on my back while the three of us ski laps.
The skiing is simple. A clear cut with varying pitch, the left side of the tow being more beginner friendly, while the right side is steep enough to enjoy the crazy amount of snow that this place stockpiles the six days a week the lift doesn’t run.
There are plenty of natural jumps and no patrol to stop any kid from building wild kickers. Kasper’s highlight is the jump built by the last group of skiers who happened to be the grade-12 school class from Bella Coola, who had come up during the week, winter camped in snow caves and turned the lift on for their school ski day.
We pause at midday at the Roundhouse, a day cabin with a wood stove and a propane burner for cooking lunch. Every time we visit, we fall more in love with the people from Bella Coola. Maybe it’s the like-minded parenting, or the adventurous lives they lead, but it always draws us in. So after a week at the cabin we pack out and are pulled down to the simple town of Bella Coola to spend more time with our old and new friends.
Quickly they have us adventuring into the backcountry by snowmobile to ski some deep powder, to then get pulled back up the mountain by a homemade rope tow powered by a 10-horse power motor. This rope tow is so extreme in its steepness and ropework involvement, Dave goes without us for the day as there’s no way the kids would make it up.
What kind of crazies build their own rope tow in the backcountry? The same kind that have us on an old fishing boat the next day out on the ocean, chugging up 30km to a remote hot spring for a soak and a relax.
All too soon it’s time to head ‘home’, or rather, to collect our beloved trailer from the welder and continue our ski safari through BC.
To me, a healthy home is where you have all your basic needs met: love, support, water, food, fun, education and of course some cleanliness (cue our makeshift bath). To some people it may look like we are a family of wandering gypsies. But to us, the adventure of creating a home out of a very unlikely environment, skiing incredible places along the way, has become a gift that I hope our kids and we will never forget. I have watched how adaptable Kasper and Raffi have become through our lifestyle choices; they run into almost every new scenario with the comfort a child has running into their own living room. As a family, we are home!
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP SUPPORT DAVE’S WIFE AND KIDS THEN PLEASE CLICK HERE.
The Treadways being pulled behind horses while at a ranch on the Chilcotin Plateau. Free Range Family. March 2018.