Chris Czajkowski chose to build her life and small ecotourism business on the shore of a high-altitude lake near the southern tip of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park. It is a formidable landscape of lake-dotted alpine plateaus abutting the glacier-swathed backbone of the central Coast Range. This book describes Czajkowski's experiences as she builds her fourth cabin in the wilderness with hand tools, two chainsaws, an Alaskan Mill and some helpful friends. One of her helpers is Nick Berwain, a quiet but literary young German who corresponds with Czajkowski long after his return home. In these fascinating letters to Berwain, Czajkowski details her often solitary life: how she breaks trails by snowshoe with her two pack dogs, encounters grizzly bears, builds a custom stone oven and learns how to use it to bake bread -- and spotted dick, a traditional English steamed pudding. The letters also chronicle Czajkowski's challenges and triumphs as she tries to finish her cabin. Food and building supplies must be flown in and Czajkowski must hike more than 30 kilometres to the nearest road to lead guiding trips and to attend craft fairs and book promotions to supplement her income.
Lyrically written, the book provides a close look at a simpler way of life that most of us only dream about, one that cleaves to nature with beauty, resilience and independence.
Chris Czajkowski has lived off the grid in the British Columbia wilderness for the last two decades. Her experiences are recorded in her previous books, Cabin at Singing River, Diary of a Wilderness Dweller, Nuk Tessli, and Snowshoes and Spotted Dick. Her new book, And the River Still Sings, is out Fall 2014 with Caitlin Press. She blogs at WildernessDweller.ca.