Heinz's Report - August 19, 2004


A few weeks ago the town of Fernie, as part of their centennial celebrations this year, had their official Homecoming Weekend. Our family had their own version as our two children made a rare visit. Our son, Stephen, came to have, as he put it, some physical fun. Our daughter, Robin decided to lay low and chill out. What follows, is Stephen's report (and pictures) of our full dance card, or as Calgary Dave put it, 120 hours of Fernie.

Stephen's Report

The happiest long weekend of my summer was spent in the Elk Valley adventuring, boozing and feasting with my parents and their peer group of hardcore outdoor enthusiasts. Here's what we got up to:


Sun baking the Flathead, we drove up in search of big, big stones to landscape Dave and Steve's front yards in the Cedar Bowl Estates residential area. While Artistic Dave assembled rock cairn figures, we huffed, heaved and hefted loads into waiting vehicles. And here the fateful die was cast, for though we and Steve had wisely brought along heavy-duty trucks up to the task of bearing stone cargo, Overly Optimistic Dave had merely a sport utility wagon for his load. So when two thirds of the returning caravan ended up back at Cedar Bowl Estates with no sign of Wagon-Driving Dave for nigh on 30 minutes, we knew something had gone wrong. A quick rescue jaunt back along Cokato Road in Steve's pickup (often co-piloted by his fuzzy sidekick Kaz), found Dave marooned with a flat tire: a common casualty among those who dare the Flathead for rock booty.

Sweat Quotient: Good

Best Line: "Stephen's been Kazzed." -- Marilyn, upon seeing the back of Stephen's black t-shirt covered in white doggie hair from riding shotgun (Kaz's seat) in Steve's pickup.


While most of the crew rested and lunched, Driven Dave landscaped his entire front yard and was ready within an hour to take possession of our Family Wall Unit. This insanely complicated and weighty contraption was to pass hands from Alpenhaus proprietors Heinz and Kathy, whose ambitious basement Media Room project was nearing completion and required the exodus of the 1-ton rosewood cabinet. Heinz and Stephen assisted Towel-Bearing Dave in securing the 1000 parts of the decommissioned Wall Unit to a pair of pickups, and the caravan left the mountain for Cedar Bowl Estates. No sooner had the men pulled up in Dave's driveway, though, than the heavens unleashed a torrent of unexpected rain and the trio had to execute the transfer of the storm-slapped Wall Unit from trucks to rental suite in record time. After all 1000 segments were safely within Dave's home, the moving men took up Forward-Thinking Dave's towels to individually wipe dry each piece.

Sweat Quotient: Assumed good, though hard to tell because of:

Soak Quotient: Excellent drenching for men and wood alike.

Best Line: "It does smell like fish in here!" -- Dave, of his basement furnace room, temporary holding area for the Wall Unit.


Countryman Dave upstaged father-and-son pyro team Heinz and Stephen by starting a fire from one match. He then proceeded to get royally drunk.

Dalwhinnie Quotient: Memory does not serve.

Best Line: "I did it for the Dalwhinnie." -- Injured Dave, after stopping a fall into our backyard rock wall with his head, the better to keep Scotch glasses and bottle from tipping off the tray in his hands.


The next morning Mountain Man Steve arranged a quest to find the "ammonite": a stone impression of a massive prehistoric snail nestled in the hills outside Fernie proper. Before letting fly your enraged hate mail, please note this account will not provide a route to the secret treasure. Know only that Rough and Rugged Steve led the way through bush and briar as Marilyn, Stephen, Heinz, Kathy and Dave brought up the rear and four-legged Kaz scouted and sniffed about. Two rivers, many scratches and a few false turns later, we alighted upon the fabled ammonite, some views of which are available to your right.

After a quick snack, everyone decided to take a different route home, with Ladies Man Steve leading the gals along the low road and Dave, Stephen and Heinz scaling a treed steep to the high road. The latter won out and it took an extended game of Marco Polo to reunite the team for Heinz's chosen descent down something that couldn't with a straight face be called a trail. Kudos to Kathy for biting her lip and not reaming out Heinz for his exploratory ways. On the path back to roadside, the crew encountered a black bear cub heading the opposite direction, obviously bound for the ammonite. In the spirit of guarding Fernie's best-kept secret, we misdirected the bear and moved on.

Sweat Quotient: Very Good

Best Line: "I took a few nettles for the team." -- Steve, blazing a trail toward the first of the river crossings.


Continuing with the theme of exposing Fernie's secret stashes, our afternoon adventure was a leisurely stroll up Matheson Creek to visit two lovely waterfalls (views to your right). We all chilled out at the final stop, but none moreso than Narcoleptic Dave, who proved no jumbled rockpile is too uncomfortable for a man of his sleeping skills.

Sweat Quotient: Negligible

Best Line: "Arowf!" -- Kaz, at a few tossed sticks.


The climax of Homecoming Weekend was a testosterone-fueled pedal up the VERY LONG Coal Creek Road for Steve, Heinz, Stephen and Dave -- usually in that order -- accompanied by a soundtrack of uninterrupted profanity and grunting. Hats off to Heart Attack-Defying Heinz for biking up the longest hill without stopping and to Stone Slab Steve for besting the ascent with not one but two broken ribs. City-bound office worker Stephen had his flabby desk-job ass soundly whipped by men 20 years his senior and pussied out on the hair-raising descent by riding his brakes like a little girl. In his defense, I will point out it was my first time REAL MOUNTAIN biking, but I am crazy in love with the sport and must have my own soft-tail full-suspension disc-brake coil-shock doohickey ASAP. For a glimpse of what we found at the summit of this two-wheeled pissing contest, see selected photos to your right.

Sweat Quotient: Excellent

Best Line: "You wieners." -- Dave, to Heinz and Steve after they called it a day at the base of the last uphill stretch, which Dave promptly crested (forcing all of us to do the same).

In closing, my sore body and I extend our warmest thanks to the Fernie Summer Adventures Team for a rollicking good time in the Elk Valley. I wish you all the best for the balance of the summer adventure season and hope to join you again for more fun in the sun (and later, snow).

Cheers, Stephen

Marilyn, Dave and Kathy climb an unnamed trail in search of the ammonite.

Cover your eyes! It's the ammonite.

The lovely Marilyn lunches with the hairy Kaz.

Look away! Ammonite!

An interesting stump. (Spot the Kaz.)

Try finding these falls.

Steve, in a rare moment of sitting.

Dave, in a frequent moment of sleeping.

Dave, first to the Chevron CBM (Coal Bed Methane) test site at the top of Coal Creek Road.

Clockwise from top left, the boys: Dave, Steve, Heinz and Stephen. Note Stephen's bike-cred helmet, blocking Dave and ruining this photo.