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Hollyburn Cabins - Two Articles by Pollough Pogue

It is interesting to compare these two articles about Hollyburn cabins written by Pollough Pogue and published in the magazine he created and edited - “The Hiker & Skier. The first article appeared in the second issue of Hiker & Skier, the second in one of the last issues.

The Hiker & Skier - December 15, 1932

We have some thousands of hikers and hundreds of skiers in Vancouver, but their number is small compared with the aggregate of men and women in the city who are missing a great deal of lively enjoyment and wholesome outdoor exercise by not hiking or taking part in winter sports on the mountains. It sounds foolish to most of these people when you tell them that they could get greater thrills and more exhilarating enjoyment out of winter sport than from any other open air recreation with which they renew their spirits.

Spend part of your Christmas vacation in the mountains this year and take a few lessons in skiing. You'll find it fascinating. Get up on a high mountain plateau where the long linear ski tracks are stenciled in the snow. You’ll feel the lift of the strong frosty air of the high country; it's almost intoxicating.

Hike up the trail. Hiking is more interesting and healthier than driving; If you get tired rest a while, take a fresh hitch at your trousers and keep going.

Winter has definitely come to the Vancouver mountains. At three thousand feet elevation temperatures have been as low as four degrees [Fahrenheit], with frosty air and sunshine in the daytime and nights of wonderful clear stars and moon. There has been skating on the plateau lakes for some time and good skiing at higher elevations. Only a few feet more snow is needed to make conditions perfect for winter sport. From the three thousand foot level up, we are sure of getting plenty of snow. If skiers could foreordain the weather for the winter, they would have almost every day clear and cold, with an occasional snowfall. Not too much snow. We had too much last winter. And not too cold. One of the advantages of the Vancouver mountains as fields for winter sports is that the temperature seldom sinks to zero and very rarely drops below.

We are looking forward with hopeful anticipation to a winter favorable for skiing. On the Vancouver mountains are hundreds of log cabins built by city hikers. Only the hikers themselves know the peculiar den-like comfort of a mountain cabin on a winter night.

To know this you have to make a two-hour hike up a steep trail in bad weather and reach your cabin tired and hungry.

Darkness is settling down over the mountains as you. get to your cabin, which sits close to the ground among big firs and hemlocks at about three thousand feet elevation. Built of logs and shakes, it really is a part of the woods. To a bear or a raccoon it must seem merely a larger nest or den, a similar shelter to their own but built with greater care, an example for them to imitate.

The cabin is damp and cold but there is dry wood. Your partner lights a candle and starts a fire in the stove. You pack a pail of water from the creek.

Your healthy appetite demands no epicurean dishes or refinements in cookery. A can of corn and a can of peas are dumped into the same saucepan and put on the stove. A big beefsteak goes unceremoniously into a heated frying pan. Its sizzling is melodious to you, but words cannot tell how appetising are the smells that presently arise from the pan. No fluency or aptness in the use of words could do justice to the quality of the coffee's fragrance.

Your supper is over, the cabin is now warm and snug and tobacco has a wonderful taste. After two cigarettes you and your partner wash the dishes and tidy up. Three men from a cabin near yours come in and for an hour you play a game of poker in which the bets are appropriately low. Then your visitors leave. The weather has improved. The wind has shifted into the northwest and blows clean and cold.

In your bunk, which is warm and soft with many blankets, you read by the light of two candles for half an hour. At ten o'clock you blowout your candles. Your partner in his bunk is already asleep. The firelight from the stove makes the shadows caper in an undulant dance on walls and roof. But soon you sink into the deep sleep of the mountain hiker.

You and your partner force yourselves to get up from your snug bunks an hour before daylight. By candle-light you cook and eat a mountain breakfast of bacon and eggs, canned beans, bread and butter and jam. Night is fading back into its own mystery when you leave the cabin carrying skis and ski poles and heading through a tall forest up to higher elevations where the skiing is good.

It is a morning of clear stars and a sharp and frosty air. Darkness is slowly withdrawing as the grey of dawn takes possession of the mountain. Through interminable flights of trees you trudge. An owlish moon watches you between the great bronze tree columns that seem, as they tower upward all around you, to lift up your thoughts. Thus in the big timber your meditations are guided upward by the giant trees, though in town on the flat streets you may think on a horizontal plane.

You and your partner spend the morning skiing on great slopes near the top of the mountain. The high country is wrapped in a silence of snow.


“A Big Night at the Crossroads” Hiker & Skier – February 23, 1940

It's twelve o'clock on a Saturday night on which the hill has dissolved in a greyness of rain and mist. There's just enough snow to make with the mountain mud an ankle-deep porridge. The humid atmosphere of this ski rendezvous is vibrating with sound both vocal and instrumental. It's a symphony the entire personnel of which would be instantly shot in Russia or beheaded in Germany. The orchestration leaks furtively through the wadding which I have with low cunning placed in my ears, as an entirely inadequate preparation for a big night at the crossroads. in competition with the vocal efforts the radios, gramophones, saxophones, accordions, and other instruments do not get very far. Their wax won't climb.

After a light lunch, a raisin pie that a neighbor brought in, I crawl into my bunk and listen to the yowls and yodelling of hundreds of hikers slopping through the primordial ooze of the trails, heading up from below toward this social centre. Mingled with this ululation I can hear, muted by the wadding, healthy whoops, hoots and yells from the ski camp, the club cabins and the private cabins within hearing.

Presently I crawl into my bunk. I am just sinking into sleep when there is a heavy hammering on the cabin door. "Come in!" I holler, rising from my bunk. A muddy hiker opens the door. The portable battleground outside abruptly pitches up many octaves in tone. The wadding has fallen out of my left ear. "Can I borrow a bug from you? the hiker asks. I take down a bug from the wall and hand it to him. "What about matches?" he suggests. I give him a handful. "Could I bum a cigarette off you?" he inquires. I hand him my pack, he takes one, lights it and the bug and goes out.

I get into my bunk again. It is just one o'clock. But soon heavy boots shake the cabin porch and a voice asks: "Can I get a little water for my carbide?" "Sure, come in." I answer. The door opens and a big fellow enters. I get up and hand him a pitcher of water. "Can I bum a little carbide off you?" he asks. I take the carbide can from a shelf and tell him to help himself. After shaking the wet ash from his lamp into the cabin stove and spilling some over the top of the stove and on the floor, he fills his lamp with carbide and water, lights it and departs.

When he has gone I lie down again. Presently .a voice calls through the door. "Hey, what trail do I take to get to the Robbers' Roost?" I shout directions without getting up. A little later the door opens, the cabin is flooded by a blinding glare of electric flashlights, and three large hikers enter. "Say, which trail takes us to the Hard-boiled Eggs?" I tell them how to get there and they stump out.

It's half past one. All at once there is a clattering commotion of hiking boots on the porch. Somebody fumbles with my door latch, opens the door and asks for a candle. He has a. bug. I give him a candle.

For some time now there is noisy traffic on the east-and-west trail that passes my door. A hundred or more skiers are coming from a party in a big club cabin some distance away, and they are quite freely contributing to the joy of life on the mountain by howling songs, yelling and yodelling. Just in case l should be asleep, somebody shouts my name and in a festal spirit, tosses a stick of stove wood at my door. I light a candle and opening a book, a crime story entitled "Murder on the Front Porch," start to read. It is now two o'clock.

Half an hour later the noise unbelievably begins to die down a little. Hundreds of hikers quitting the ski-camp unwillingly. and abandoning the dance at the club cabin a few yards from mine, have definitely started for the cabins they inhabit. A comparative silence settles down over the old hill. I put out my light and my eyes are just closing when I hear a distant warbling coming up the main trail. I recognize those tuneful voices. Two young fellows, gifted yodellers. are arriving from below. These guys are my particular pain in the neck. They usually are the last hikers to come up the trail. They are answered by other yodellers from the club bunkhouse near by.

But before· very long the noise-makers are occupied in preparing and eating supper a serious business carried through largely without vociferation. So at length I get to sleep.