Have you ever wrote a letter to a house?
Where were you when you realized you were deeply in love?
When was the first time you felt Home?
Have you ever wrote a letter to a house?
I have many times. Whenever we would leave Yellowhead for distant travels, I would leave her a letter. “We love you and we will never forget about you. We will be home soon.” is often how they would be written. I’ve kept many of them in our bag of love letters.
The other day I spoke into the winds of YH, the swinging pine above me, the short lived wind waves above the small bit of open water, and to the bright sun above me : I thanked her for her existence. Without her presence there is so much of my life that may have never been. Her life dates back over 100 years – 100 years in the making before I would come to call her home. Is that destiny?
Over 100 years ago this cabin was built as a Trapper’s hut and was part of the original Lucerne Community. It was purchased by BC Parks in the 40’s for a dollar. It had never been used, apart from the occasional break-in over the years and of course the many years of nesting for critters. I heard from a friend that she was brought to the cabin for a field trip of the sort through her school, otherwise, this cabin had been without visitors for decades.
As I mentioned in previous posts, Curt became the Berg Ranger in 2017, finding the cabin towards the end of the work season. He was shocked by what he saw – he assessed what was wrong with the cabin, leaving while knowing in his heart that he would fix it up in the future.
I too was working in the area, just across the border in Jasper. We hadn’t met just yet – but by this point I knew I needed to get to Berg, and had a printed photo on my altar as my daily reminder. The winter of 2017 saw us both return to our home provinces, Sk for Curt and On for myself. We both felt an intense pull to get back to the area out West, and did just that. Curt was offered to stay at Yellowhead in March in exchange of fixing it up, bringing it back to life one day at a time. By April, my mom bought me a one way ticket to Edmonton with her flight points, as I couldn’t afford a ticket at the time. By May of 2018, I was living in Jasper, and Curt was renovating and living at Yellowhead. We were 32km apart.
He replaced the broken front door, fixed the backdoor frame that had been kicked in, replaced the broken bedroom window, ripped out a stone fire place that had at least three feet of literal shit and mice carcasses from the last, potentially 40+ years, and put in a new fireplace. He painted the window frames, put in curtains, insulated the walls, replaced old furniture, built a beautiful driftwood shelf, tore out the mid-wall to create more space, fire-smarted the property and removed 15-20 danger trees, along with the daily maintenance of the cabin and the property – all on his own time and dollar. In 2020, we built a greenhouse behind the cabin. We saw incredible growth for our first year: lettuce lasting the entire season, delicious carrots, some onion, tons of herbs, a terrifyingly abundant amount of dill, incredibly tasty broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, and we even yielded a few baby tomatoes, despite the heavy rain throughout the summer. The cabin was originally meant to be torn down, as requested by a now retired supervisor, but luckily still sees the sun every morning and each night, as it rightfully deserves. We have brought it back to life, and what an honor it has been to continue doing so.
We met on August 31st, 2018, the evening of which would be my first at Yellowhead. The drive into the park was dark, the landscape looking like blackened, jagged paper cutouts against the night sky. We arrived to the cabin under starlight, and played cards by candlelight. When I woke up the next morning, I took a look around me – breathing in the fresh, cold air of the great divide, resting at the headwaters of the Frasier River- that morning, my heart leaped from my chest, and buried itself upon the beaches, the moss, and the ancient roots of Yellowhead. This is Home. The first night I spent with Curt, the first home we had together. The most sentimental cabin I think a cabin could possibly be.
We would spend the next (nearly) three years living out of Yellowhead, and using it as our fall-back when we returned from travels, and when we needed shelter once the work season was over. We were recently given new instruction down the line as changes have been made in BC Parks – even though Curt has spent all of his own time and money restoring this place, we are told we can no longer stay, and if we are interested in visiting in the future, we need gain approval before coming back.
So we are resting in our final two days at Yellowhead before we move on to our first official home together – a trailer purchased with our own dollar! I am really excited to start this new chapter and to be living under a roof that is ours and will always be. No more stress of living under a roof that belongs to a corporation.
As incredible as it is and will always be.
As difficult as it is to say goodbye.
As much as I have learned and as much as I have been allowed to grow in this place.
As much as we love you.
We know that it’s time.
We have had sun all week, and sun to end our stay; but today we are coveted in mixed rain and snow, asking us for final reflection and to spend the day in the loving embrace of YH. This is sincerely such a special place.
Without its existence over 100 years ago – without its purchase from BC Parks in the 40’s – without the perfect weather to keep her standing all this time, through fire, wind, and heavy snow – without Curts boss telling him to restore it to reside – Curt and I would have never met. YH would have never been our love shack.
Lucerne, back in the day, was a growing community and at one point was a larger community than Jasper, only 32km from the town site. There were roughly 30 homesteads in Lucerne, including a community ball diamond. The original blacksmiths workshop still stands, as does Yellowhead – but the rest were either moved in to Jasper, or were torn down. To this day, you can find original tin cans and stoves tucked in the moss beds or twisted in the tree roots, and deep swells within the landscape where structures used to be. I believe the town site was completely moved and demolished by the fifties.
The bridge leading to the cabin sees much traffic especially during the summer, as tourists stop in to check out the road and where it leads. There are a total of four remaining structures on this lane – the first residential owned by the people who spend their summers there (with the Blacksmiths shop), then there’s YH, and further down the road another two cabins belonging to CN. Many stop to take pictures on the bridge – unfortunately, most of whom will miss the most spectacular viewing of their lives – a summer sunrise upon Fitzy or Yellowhead is a seemingly simple moment that can honestly change your life. It picks you up and moves you. Those moments make you feel like God Himself is reaching his hands into your heart and soul: Reminding you of how lucky you are to have found this place, let alone called it home.. a dream I’m sure many have had in their lives.
This will always be our first Home – and it took until this last week to admit our readiness to finally leave. I wasn’t sure I’d get there. A part of my heart will always be here, I know that for certain. The truth remains, we are ready to start the next chapter of our lives. Hopefully that means Yellowhead will see a new ranger that will keep her bright and full of life. It would be a terrible shame to see her go back to the dark and dust – but so as long as she is standing. As long as she still sees the light of day. It would be a terribly awful feeling to drive up and see her as an empty space. I’m completely unsure why anyone would even suggest such a thing.
So I’ve spent the latest of my time thanking her for her existence. For making it up to this point, for being here for us, for being our safe shelter squeezed in a tight valley between two gorgeous BC mountains. We love you and appreciate you so much.
It makes me wonder if Curt and I were together in another life, a previous one, were YH came to be, allowing us to find each other again in the future.
At the end of the day the one truth remains, that this is heaven on earth, God’s paradise and playground, and we have been granted the greatest gift in life to have spent three years here together. Sometimes days to weeks spent under this roof alone, as Curt worked on it before we met, or as he worked atop the mountain and I prayed into each night waiting for his return. We have fought some days, but most are spent finding, creating, sharing, and making love. We have learned so much about ourselves and each other under this roof and on this land. I look forward to the many lifetimes we live together, no matter which roof we find ourselves under, we will be home, so as long as we are together.
We love you so much, Yellowhead. Thank you for being a part of our lives and for deeply impacting our hearts.
The Official Written Love Letter:
Only a whisper of mountain language could come close to describing the brilliant magic and energetic pull that lives and breathes strong within this valley. It takes spending many nights and early mornings between your peaks, settling in intimately during a dark storm, to know the depths of raw embrace you have upon ones existence. You came into our lives in divine time as is your presence, totally divine and divinely timed for us. We have spent our most vulnerable days with you, we have spoken our wishes into the moss beds, our prayers towards the tops of the trees. You have never let us down, always providing shelter and heat when we needed it most. We have spent hours upon your waters and that connection has changed us. The mountains have moved us into the beings we are now – abundant in love, rich in life and wonder. Great listeners and decipherers of ancient mountain language. We thank you from the depths of our core for your existence, your presence, your many lessons, your great embrace, and the love you have allowed us to create under your roof. The love that is forever lasting and eternally growing between us. Whether if we are long lost lovers, or twin flames, we believe we were meant to be together, and it is under your roof this meeting was able to be within our lifetime. We have seeded and continue to cultivate happiness and grace upon your land, extending to our next chapters on this journey. We may have brought the shine back to the land and to the cabin, but you too gifted us with life in return. We are forever changed in your honor. You have taught us how little we really need, and how much we truly have. That all answers lie within.
We love you and we thank you.