Cabin Fever – Working at a Heliski Lodge

Dear Readers,

I was skeptical about whether or not I should go straight into my travels this summer, or take beat and reflect on other things. Traveling across the country hasn’t been my only adventure. Sometimes, the place where you live is more than enough cause to have excitement and to get into whatever shenanigans show up at your door.

Two years ago, I started working up at Bell 2 Lodge, along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway in Northern BC. It was November when the manager called me and asked if I was still available for work (after sending in my resume a month previous), and she wanted me to start as soon as possible, filling in for the housekeeping role. At the time, I was desperate and in need of money. And so, I told her that I would definitely be happy to take the job.

Next thing I know, I’m in the middle of nowhere, in the freezing cold, wondering “what the hell did I just get myself into?” Of course, that wasn’t all there was to it. Bell 2 Lodge is actually home to Last Frontier Heliskiing which is a world renowned heliskiing company with the largest heliski tenure in the world. So, it was pretty classy working there (since it is a four star lodge).

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My adventure in this wonderful place lasted about a year and a half. And let me tell you, it was a fantastic place to call home. You don’t realize it at first, but after it’s all over, you notice all the great things about that lodge. And not just the lodge itself, but the people that you worked with. The people I’ve met at Bell 2 Lodge have been nothing but amazing (A few quirks here and there. But still, who am I to judge?)

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The thing with Bell 2 Lodge is that you have to live in the staff cabins to work there (as this place is in the middle of nowhere). And we are up there for 2-3 weeks at a time. It does take a lot of commitment to stick out the whole season, but you also manage to have fun and make great memories out of your time there. People have always said that I must have been bored a lot working up there. I’ll admit, there have been times where I wanted to smash my head through a wall, because I had nothing to do except work and sleep. But there are moments up there that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Like, let’s say, your first ride in one of the helicopters, stepping outside and experiencing the beauty of the northern lights for the first time, getting your chance to finally go heliskiing, and snowshoeing around the area, or hiking up Yabadabadoo, the mountain next to the lodge.

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Amazing things happen up there, and you can find that winter adventure you’ve always wanted in true Northern BC land. Plus, the people you meet up there are amazingly awesome. The kind of people you meet at Bell 2 Lodge are the ones that crave adventure, that seek the excitement, and want a completely different experience than what everyone else has. They can be a party girl from a small town that believes in the saying “ain’t no shame”, or a death-metal anarchist that loves to shred powder and drink whiskey, along with a lioness-chick on the prowl for the next adrenaline-fueled adventure. You’d be surprised on the diversity of the staff members at Bell 2 Lodge. They come from all walks of life, but we all have one thing in common; We all want that unstoppable winter adventure that most people never experience in their lifetime.  Those people have been, what I call, my Bell 2 Family. Having worked there for a few seasons, I know that I’ll never forget anyone from that place. They all brought something to the table, they all added to the chemistry to make Bell 2 a fantastic place to live and work.

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My first winter season, it was a bit strenuous. I was new to the place, I never had to work where I lived before, or ever done housekeeping. So, it was a completely new experience for me. But, I could not have been more happier than I was when I first arrived. I couldn’t believe that a place like this could exist. I’m from here in BC, and so snow is no surprise for me, in fact, I crave the winter. But, it’s a whole new story up at Bell 2. The snow fall there is absolutely perfect for a winter adventure. Sometimes, I just had to pause, stop whatever it was that I was doing, and breath in the fresh air while taking in the scenery before me. I was content with what I had. I lived in a log cabin surrounded by mountains, snow, rivers, trees, and living with people who could understand the beauty in the area and that sometimes, the only noise that you need to make is your own heart beat.

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And, when the winter season came to an end, we get to celebrate a “staff day” on the mountain! It was a beautiful day full of skiing/snowboarding, sunbathing, crazy-carpet rides, and just one last chance for all of us to have fun together before we had to say goodbye and go our separate paths in life, once again. It was sort of a bittersweet event for myself. I loved spending the winter season with these folks, we had a lot of good laughs, and memories  that I’ll never forget. It just sort of got to me that some of us might not see each other for a while, or ever, if it came to that. We all  lived together for so long in such an isolated environment, you create a special bond, leaning on each other when things get hard, laughing and cheering to the wonderful moments where you feel utterly and completely alive. It was hard to let go and say goodbye to such a good crew. But, I’m glad there was a day where we could have one last memory for us all to carry with us onto our next adventure in life.

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I didn’t regret staying longer, and continuing to work there for the summer. After all the snow melted, the entire scenery changed. Suddenly, it was like I was in a whole new playground, with just that many more places to see. I couldn’t believe how amazing everything looked. Maybe I was just up there too long to compare it to anything else, but it was as if the trees were greener, the sky a deeper blue. Everything just looked fresh and new. In fact, all of this brought me back to a poem I read a few years ago. “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost. In the poem, Frost describes how fresh and new everything was in the beginning, but soon it was to deteriorate, crumble away. Nothing could ever last. It made me sad, worried. All I could think was that I hope a place like this could stay this way forever. I didn’t want anything to corrupt and disturb this peaceful land.

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I’ll admit to you, not everything was diamonds working up there. There were times when I couldn’t stand the silence, because I had gone months without being anywhere else. Days would start blending together, and I couldn’t get rid of the feeling of running, running to something new, something that had bright lights, and so much noise that I couldn’t even hear myself think. A piece of advice, never let yourself get too bored. Always look to keep yourself busy and not to let things get too dull. Make it interesting, people.

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And thus, summer had to come to an end, but I was alright with that. Winter season was always an all time favorite for me. It just created this whole new scenario, and excitement. The beauty of the perfect, white blanket that covered the land was calming. It was almost as if nature was telling you it would be alright.  I can’t even begin to describe how desperate I was for snow. The summer seemed to have lasted forever. But when it finally did snow, I had the sense of familiarity, a feeling that told me I was home. There was nothing that could have beat the winter season up at Bell 2. Everyday was a winter paradise and I was in the middle of nowhere with such amazing people that I loved and cared for. I’m telling you, Bell 2 Lodge will always be a wondrous experience for me. It’ll be something to remember for a lifetime, and I’m happy to have had the opportunity to have worked there, and anybody would be lucky to get the chance.

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And so, I’ll end this post here, as the memories are flashing by me, and it’s getting harder to concentrate, as it’s making my heart feel heavy. I hope you enjoyed this little tale of a land that wondrous and amazing things take place. There are many more tales of Bell 2 life, but some of them I’d  like to keep to myself.

If you would like to see more of my photos, check out: https://www.facebook.com/TravisSimmsPhotography

–Travis Simms

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One thought on “Cabin Fever – Working at a Heliski Lodge

  1. Hi Travis. I am just on the way down from Bell 2 Lodge with Mike and staying in Prince George overnight. What a great story you have put together here! I am impressed and sure that many of your colleagues from Bell 2 Lodge – and many others as well – will be very impressed with your thoughts and the way you look at things. Thank you for your valued contributions at Bell 2, for all your fantastic photography work and for your great attitude. I hope to see you again…maybe at Bell 2 at some point in the future. Merry Christmas and have a great new Year. George

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