Words by Morgan Dinsdale | Posted July 12, 2017
If you’ve ever had the privilege of driving west from Calgary to Banff you’ve witnessed the optical illusion, where the mountains seem to grow right in front of your eyes, erupting out of the prairies’ flatlands. Most who’ve travelled this route continue west, bending left and southward toward Vancouver. If instead you veer right, following the road north from Banff to Jasper, you’ll find one of the most picturesque drives abundant with wildlife and pristine mountain views. So incredibly beautiful, the unfolding landscapes from Alberta into British Columbia have been known to stop travellers in their tracks. They’ve moved mountain men and women to tears including CMH’s founder, Hans Gmoser and Lizzie Rummel, the women who would give Hans his first guiding job in Canada and inspire his exploration of the B.C. wilderness, now home to all of CMH’s 12 lodges. Taking this road-less-travelled past Banff through Jasper and then west, you will venture into spectacular countryside toward the pure, untouched beauty of the North Country. This is the road that leads to CMH Cariboo Lodge.
Remote. Barely accessible. These are words that describe much of Canada’s most beautiful places. Nestled away in this wilderness CMH’s Cariboo Lodge is located in the heart of one of the most majestic settings in British Columbia. “Beautiful places are hard to get to,” remarks John Mellis, area manager for CMH Cariboos, of his home. “If it was easy, you’d never get in, it would be too busy!” CMH Cariboos sits at the crossroads of north and south, surrounded by glaciers, jagged peaks and in summer, green valleys painted vibrantly with wildflowers. For over 40 years CMH guests have laid ski tracks upon the Cariboo Mountain Range, soaking in the wintertime vistas. Now, summer is calling, inviting us to sun-soaked afternoons hiking across glaciers, walking endless ridgelines, and playing in the mosaic of colours that paint the valleys and meadows in more shades than can be imagined.
The Zilmer South, North Canoe and Crazy Horse glaciers that surround the lodge stand out strikingly against mountain peaks, lush green forests and wildflower meadows. Walking on glaciers humbles any adventurer; you’ve never seen water so blue, crevasses so deep or felt the humility of standing upon a formation so strikingly beautiful and overwhelming in its magnitude. “When you find your place, you find your place,” says John of his longtime home. It’s not hard to understand why. Out here in the Cariboos mountain range, the northernmost sub-range of the Columbia Mountains, you feel truly remote. Resplendent, the Cariboos are old mountains, geologically speaking. They have laid witness to B.C.’s flourished grandeur for millennia. They have watched the Bugaboos, Selkirks and Monashees rise out of the ground. Summertime exploration amongst these peaks and on these glaciers delivers a profound sense of freedom; traversing a land of ice, ridge walking peaks that stretch limitlessly into the horizon, summited by few other than mountain goats and the soaring birds overhead.
With the rise in popularity of venturing into pristine, untouched locations there is a place for every kind of adventurer. Without the confinement of fixed routes CMH’s expert guides are able to showcase a vast tenure to anyone who can hike or walk. They have the freedom to take Grandma on a wildflower meadow walk while the next generation climbs overhead on a nearby peak. As John puts it, “this place is a playground that inspires and exhilarates all.” CMH Cariboo Lodge will open its doors to two and three day summer experiences starting summer 2018. For more details visit cmhsummer.com