Part 3 Selkirk Mountain experience – Hospitality all day, every day
I’ve been transported to a crazy alpine space in the midst of surreal landscape of the Durrand Glacier system, surrounded by peaks, creeks, lakes and waterfalls, spruce forests and wildflowers; I’ve been cavorting and ambling among marmots and mountain goats. The sun is shining, the air is fresh and pure. I can simply reach out to touch the clouds. Morning light infuses the alpine with deep, creeping light that tickles the mountain tops before it rolls out across the meadows and exposes the dew drops clinging to delicate wildflowers.
I was surrounded by the stunning vistas, I was exerting for for several hours a day and was in constant awe of the physical experience.
Then, the hike would lead us back to the Durrand Glacier Chalet’s exemplary hospitality. Nicoline Beglinger is the standard bearer of rustic elegance in alpine atmosphere. Genuine and graceful are two adjectives that come to mind. Her influence manifests in an easy ambience among the family and guests. Like herself, the chalet is wonderfully understated; the way it’s set up encourages interaction.
Nicoline is lithe and energetic. She works in the kitchen, helps cleans the chalet, does the marketing and guest hospitality; and those are just a few among her many hats. She joined us guests for meals on several evenings as did her daughters. She retires to her cozy family chalet just a few paces away from the guest lodgings and welcomes us to knock on the door whenever we want.
Nicoline, gracious as usual, invites me in. Her daughters, Charlotte and Florina and their cousin Camilla, scamper away and we sit on the comfortable leather couch and chat. I find her approach natural and refreshing. She’s curious without being pushy and she’s got an unselfconscious personal warm. She’s close to her kids, who will both be at university in Vancouver this year.
She tells me she will probably be reincarnated as a marmot.
Nicoline, an avid hiker and backcountry touring skier, radiates wholesomeness. This evening she’s wearing a simple light blue cotton frock that falls below her knees. During the day it’s fitted rolled up jeans. And always a light, comfortable grey wool sweater.
It’s clear that the alpine life she and Ruedi have built becomes her. It’s allowed her to build a strong family and build ties with people she cares about, including the guests. For her, Selkirk Mountain Experience is about the hiking and in the winter, the skiing. And the guests too. Nicoline says hiking and skiing are great equalizers, creating common ground among the guests. She genuinely enjoys the strangers that she takes into her chalet; over the years many of them have become close family friends. Roughly 50 per cent are repeaters, a testament to the quality of the Selkirk Mountain Experience offering. When I was there, one of the guests had joined the Beglingers for eight consecutive years, staying several weeks each time. Many guests were there for their second, third or fifth time, some bringing more friends with them. Some come for both winter ski touring and summer hiking.
Drawn by Ruedi’s legendary reputation as a mountaineering and backcountry ski touring guide, the guests of the chalet become part of a larger Durrand Glacier family that is received by Nicoline, the indisputable matriarch in these woods.
No photos of Nicoline. I am so remiss.
End of the day
At the end of each day when we arrived back at the chalet, tired and exhilarated, we were met with snacks: something savoury like sushi, spring rolls or samosas; and always freshly baked European cakes and jugs of refreshing iced tea. Then we enjoyed hot showers and relaxed on the chalet’s deck, watching the day fade over the mountains as we waited for the dinner bell. Our three-course dinners were invariably delicious. They were made from local Revelstoke produce using herbs grown at the chalet, creatively prepared by our chef, Jenny, and served by Beglinger family members who often joined us for meals. We had main courses that included barbecued salmon, roast pork and lamb. Salads were crispy and the desserts were tantalizing indeed.
And once again, the ambience was chill. The conversation buzzed as we became acquainted with each other. Once strangers, now in an alpine chalet together. United by common experience, we shed our daily personas and enjoyed the chance of our spending time here together.
And the end of each day I tucked myself in under a fluffy duvet listening to the waterfall as it tumbled down from Durrand Glacier. The sensations of the hike were imprinted on my brain and body – the cut of the trail, the meadows dotted with wildflowers of red, yellow, purple, pink, white; the nearness of the sky and clouds and the shock of the brisk mountain lake as I slipped into it. Then I slipped into sleep with the chilly night air wafting through my window.
I’m back in my 50s bungalow in Calgary now. Looking over the street as cars go by. I pull my gaze back to the computer and play the slideshow of my Selkirk Mountain experience – yet again. I cherish my photos as souvenirs of the remarkable days I was enveloped in the spacious atmosphere and gracious hospitality of Selkirk Mountain Experience. They are the only reasonable facsimile I have until I can return.
Find Selkirk Mountain Experience at : www.selkirkexperience.com