Birch Lake

All the Diamonds in This World

The temperature was brutal in Alberta during the last couple of weeks of December, 2017. For me it caused a sort of forced confinement during a holiday period when I’d normally be taking day trips, maybe taking some photos, maybe doing some geocaching. But when it’s -30 or -35 C with the wind chill it seems to me the sane thing to do is just hunker down and wait out the frigid cold.

By January 7, 2018 the temperature were far higher, near 0 C , and it was like a sweet release when I was finally able to wander out on a trip to east central Alberta, first, to find a couple of caches on Birch Lake Isle near Innisfree, AB and then continue on to Vermillion and finally Elk Point.

As I backed the car into its parking spot at the Birch Lake Isle campground gate, Bruce Cockburn’s All the Diamonds was playing on the car stereo system. Fate had choosen it from the thousands on an SD card packed with my favourite songs.

All the diamonds in this world
That mean anything to me
Are conjured up by wind and sunlight
Sparkling on the sea

— All the Diamonds by Bruce Cockburn

But I had to leave the story it was weaving to go weave my own by walking across the frozen lake bed to Birch Lake Isle.

My footprints on the windswept snow on the ice.

After gathering what I needed – GPS reciever, hiking pole, camera, micro-spikes in case I needed them on the ice, two touques and gloves – I set out through the campground and soon began walking on the snow-crusted ice.

The 11 am sun was beating down on crusty, windswept snow on the lake bed and with the song still wafting through my consciousness there was a strong moment of sychronicity: as I walked the sunshine glinted off the lake snow conjuring up a billion sparkling diamonds around me.

The short definition of synchronicity is “meaningful coincidence”. That song prefacing this sparkling moment that seemed to be welcoming me to a new reality was truly meaningful to me. I was no longer cooped-up in the house, the world of manmade things. Now I was experiencing a sparkling moment of beauty as I embarked on a journey into nature.

And a journey it was. After finding the first cache, I circled the island on the north side, which ended up making things harder on myself than they needed to be. The snow that built up around the shoreline sometimes held my weight, but most of the time I was post-holing through it. That saps the energy.

On the westmost end of the island I noticed a series of game-trail switchbacks up the steepest end of the island. I put on my microspikes and once I got started they were like a magic wand, allowing me to follow the snow-packed icy trail in zig zag legs up the side and to the top.

After spending some time taking a waypoint for the cache (it was an earthcache – there’s no physical container to find) and taking some pictures, I made my way down the established trail on the south side of the island, across the ice again to meet my tracks in and back to the car.

It was a fun mini-adventure and a worthy release from the cage December’s weather had imposed on me and my mind.

[lfh-gpx src= color=darkgreen width=6]Hike to Basecamp Cache at Birch Lake Isle[/lfh-gpx]

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