Talk about a crazy week… Last winter, everyone was scrambling to find snow, but for me, the insanity culminated my birthday week in March. I was in the middle of nowhere, BC with Iikka Backstrom, Eero Nemela and Mikey Rencz, all of whom I had just met a couple days before. Conditions were marginal, so most of our days were spent scouring unknown terrain for landings with good snow. Ryan Tiene and Benji Ritchie were also shooting in the area, but without a photographer, so they were hounding me to shoot with them as well. Four days in, the filmer’s sled broke down and had to be heli’d out. The way it works is these guys have to have a filmer to justify the trip, so without one we were in limbo.
Later that night while Iikka and Eero were trying to decide their next move, I received a text from Ryan. Apparently, a couple days earlier his crew had driven five hours to Golden, BC a couple days before and he and Benji had three features ready to go with a weather forecast claiming blue skies, but only until noon. Too bad you’re not with us, we’re going to score in the morning, he heckled. I looked up at Eero. “So, what’s your plan?” I asked. “We’re out,” he replied. I glanced down at my half-drunk glass of red wine and decided. “Looks like I’m going to Golden.”
I packed up my gear, paid for the hotel and hit the road. I had less than seven hours to make it the trailhead in time. Running on adrenaline and coffee, I embarked on the drive of my life. Day-trippers rave about BC’s Glacier Highway, but making the trek on a clear winter night is beyond words. Piloting that silent, empty road, I wound my way between rugged mountains that seemed to flirt with more stars than I ever knew existed. I was sleep deprived, but the combination of time and place, and a blissful feeling of taking a chance and following my gut, made the drive seem like a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I made it to the trailhead in time for a quick nap before unloading my sled and getting to work. Tiene was right, we scored and I got this shot. We celebrated that night and on the drive home the next day my lack of sleep finally hit. I only made it as far as Revelstoke before pulling over to pass out at a friend’s place. But, as I’m sitting in her hot tub relaxing before bed, I get a text to go to Hyder, Alaska with Mark Sollors, Dustin Craven and Dan Brisse – a crew that is an obvious yes.
Three hours into it I get another text – a crew is going to a spot near Revelstoke. Stop where you are! we might need you. I wait another three hours only to learn that this new thing is not actually happening either. Over it, I hit the road home.
Except 14 hours later I get another text asking me to wait until the following morning to leave as there may have been some miscommunication. I wait, then get word that the trip isn’t going to happen so I start the drive home to Whistler. Three hours into it I get another text – a crew is going to a spot near Revelstoke. Stop where you are! we might need you. I wait another three hours only to learn that this new thing is not actually happening either. Over it, I hit the road home.
After a white-knuckle snow storm drive I make it to Whistler completely exhausted and in need of a serious breakbut instead I have a catalogue to shoot. I take one day to edit and prep before heading into the backcountry to get it done. The shoot day turns out to be an epic one, the bad kind of epic. I smash my sled, get a black eye and a girl breaks her femur and has to be heli’d out.
The next day, while rushing around getting my sled fixed with no rest and a massive headache I get texted to go to Hyder again, but this time with Romaine De Marchi and Eero. I leave in the morning. This is what living the dream looks like. I could trade it for the safe confines of a studio or the structure of a desk job, but where is the fun in that?. It’s easier to escape if you never unpack. I gas up the truck and head for Alaska, loving every minute of it.