Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ … into Kamloops, BC, then up into the mountains, destination Sun Peaks for the Midnight Sun Art and Film Festival August 7 – 9, for the outdoor screening of my video The Fire Ceremony II: Metamorphosis, an experimental short which opened the festival.
After arrival, the first order of business, as usual, was a beer on a patio, this one at the Cahilty Lodge, overlooking the Sun Peaks Grand Hotel, where we could keep an eye on our loaded Modo car while we waited for our room at the Grand to become ready.
Sun Peaks Alpine Resort, formerly Tod Mountain, is designed to mimic a Swiss ski village, with the gingerbread-like architecture of the buildings. Our Hotel was refurbished in the 1990s and was indeed a grand old dame; our room, on the second floor, had a commanding view of the parking lot … not exactly what I had imagined, visions of sweeping mountain vistas dancing in my head.
Joining us for the weekend were the two amigas, Barb and Christine, seen here ready to go for a whirl through the village.
Saturday morning, after a bit of a lie-in – very unusual for me since I am usually up with the birds before dawn – we were off up the mountain for a hike through alpine meadows.
In the summer season Tod Mountain’s ski runs become a hiking and biking paradise and the chair lift is well set up to carry everyone and their gear up the hill, with special chairs just for the mountain bikes heading up to the trails.
As we cruised up the hill, we could see some of the downhill bike trails below which an employee was grooming for the afternoon. It wasn’t possible to tell from below how high this mountain is; the chair ride was about 15 minutes long – so quite high!
I was going to walk right past a garbage can of hiking poles, but then Ty mentioned their utility for hitting any bears on the nose and each of us selected one.
We had asked for advice at Guest Services and had been told to follow trails 5 and 7 to the top and back for nice views out over the valley.
The first part of trail 5 zig-zagged across the mountain side that fronts the resort; we could see the village sparkling far below us. As far as the eye could see across the valleys and mountain tops of the BC interior, there was no snow anywhere. I saw a patch of korek, those plants with which I made art installations in Turkey when I was an artist-in-residence there. Not sure what these are called here.
The first part of our hike took us up to and just short of the summit of Tod Mountain which we then skirted around in a quest for Tod Lake.
Surprisingly, as we walked deeper into the alpine area, a herd of cows was there, grazing on the mountainside. Ty greeted them with several moos, causing them to pop their heads up inquiringly. One large beast started to head in our direction so we kept on moving away from them.
Although many of the flowers in the alpine meadows were already finished, we did see some beautiful small blooms of lupins, fireweed, aster, and bright red Indian Paint Brush on the hills.
After walking for a few hours, we zigged when we should had zagged and had to backtrack to find trail 7 to the lake.
After a few teasers that turned out to be puddles not lakes, we did make it in to Tod Lake, where we, along with a few other intrepid souls, ate the packed lunch that Cafe de Soleil had prepared for us that morning. One small chipmunk joined us at the table, seemingly quite interested in our food.
The weather was perfect for hiking, sunny with beautiful cumulus clouds floating by, and not too hot. Trail 7 from the lake back down the mountain gave us a different view of the valley from the other side of the mountain and the trail itself was rougher, leading through brush and bush.
After five hours of fantastic hiking on the hill, I was tired and happy to head back down, glad that the only wildlife we had seen was the tiny chipmunk. There are bears in them thar hills and I admit that I did think about them as I was walking …
Our reward for finishing the hike was gigantic orange bellinis at Bottoms patio at the base of the chair.
Another fun summer activity on the hills is go-karting; a Tbar-like lift takes the cars up the hill and gravity brings them back down again. We will maybe check that out another time.
The Midnight Sun Art & Film Festival, organised by Dasha Novak, began with a wine tasting and live music event at Mantles Restaurant in the Sun Peaks Grand, where we listened to young local musicians play and sing. I had a very nice chat with one, the pianist Polina, from Russia, who is in Kamloops to study at Thompson Rivers University.
I was happy to see Darlene, a printmaking colleague from Thompson Rivers University, with whom I stayed the last time I was in Kamloops twenty years ago – we had a nice chinwag and catch-up. Unfortunately, the weather had changed and right up until the time the films were due to start we weren’t sure whether the show would go ahead. But the rain did stop and die-hard film enthusiasts did congregate at the gigantic outdoor screen, with their chairs and blankets in tow.
Not being too clued in to the realities of mountainside living, we had neglected to bring warm clothes, blankets, or chairs … so the viewing conditions were less than optimum. But I was happy to suffer for art to see my film The Fire Ceremony II; Metamorphosis projected on the enormous screen, and the sound system was fantastic.
In addition to my short film. two other feature length productions were screened, Reaching Blue, a documentary about the Salish Sea and Yakona, a poetic look at the life of a Texan river.
Sunday morning saw us enjoying coffee at the Mountain Cafe and taking in the Sun Peaks Farmer’s Market.
The village was busy on Saturday and Sunday morning, with three wedding parties and the Art Festival.
We decided to spend the afternoon on a guided voyageur canoe trip on MacGillivray Lake led by Campbell, a lively young man dressed for the part who drove us to the lake in a huge old rattling school bus.
Of course, Ty, in typical fashion, sat right at the back of the bus and coached me on disaster scenarios and how to survive if the bus should lose its brakes on the hill.
The first order of business was for Campbell to bail out the canoe and then the six of us were off paddling around the lake in a replica of the kind of canoes used by the early Canadian explorers.
Large fires had gone through this area several times over the years and many stands of trees had been killed; we could see their dry burnt skeletons lining the lake.
We were also lucky enough to see a Canadian loon lunching on a trout.
Sunday night the weather was better for the screening of All the Time in the World, a documentary featuring a family of five who spent nine months in the Yukon bush without electricity, and Queen of the Sun, about the catastrophic disappearance of bees and the mysterious world of the beehive. Barb managed to get us some blankets and foldable chairs, making this viewing experience more comfortable than the other.
It was a fantastic weekend, thoroughly enjoyable. See the Festival program Midnight Sun Art & Film Festival and my photos here. More info about Sun Peaks is available here.