I wrote this poem, whose structure I borrowed from Robert Service's poem The Song of the Parson's Son, on a Rockies ski camp at Lake O'Hara in 1993 and I abandoned it there in the hut log book. A friend was kind enough to transcribe it and publish it in the Island Bushwhacker newsletter in Volume 21:5 1993.

(with many apologies to Robert Service)

This is the song of the Island Bums
As they sip on their Cutty Sark
On the wild weird nights when the lycra tights
Are all over the bloody park
And it’s seven degrees and down through the trees
The skiers lurch home in the dark.
We’re some of the Island mountaineers
We’re used to the slush and the rain
We ski wet cement – that’s the way it was meant
Then go back and do it again
Light feathery dust and breakable crust
Are part of an Island day
In a wet sea breeze we thrash through the trees
‘Cause the Good Lord meant it that way.

Look at my eyes – been snow-blind twice
The ski gear is bent and busted
Here comes the Alpine Club up from the sea
Ancient mariners rime-encrusted
Trench foot is common, wetness a given
Hypothermia normal for skiing
But we press on undaunted always claiming we wanted
Alternative methods of being.

This skiing is only a gamble
The worst is as good as the best
So I came with a bunch to the Rockies
To give the deep powder a test
We stayed with Elizabeth Parker
And God it’d be hell to show
The thousands and thousands we’ve squandered
While searching for powdery snow.

For the first two days the skies were just greys
And the temperature warm like Victoria
The snow was so deep – if you fell in a heap
It’d take half and hour to restore ya.
The bottomless hoar just kept settling more
As we gingerly tested its layers.
As the hillside went WHUMP! -in our throats rose a lump
And we earnestly turned in pray-ers.

In pursuit of slopes stable we finally were able
To stomp a run wooded and steepish.
We decided to ‘give it’, replacing all divots,
Ascending a little bit sheepish.
Sphincters were tightened and passers-by frightened.
About seven yoyo runs later
We retreat to the tent, not broken –just bent
Leaving only a couple of craters.

At last on Day Four we looked our of the door
To find the sky clear and cerulean.
But nevertheless to get up and get dressed
Required an effort Herculean.
We thought we would go to Opabin Plateau
In search of the powder elusive
And there in the open we found a nice slope’n
It’s the best skiing so far – conclusive.

After some fun we ate lunch in the sun
Surrounded by slopes white and beckoning.
But sadly, alas, we gave them a pass
“Unstable as hell” was our reckoning.
We tunnelled in snow (that was sugar below)
And popped up from under for photos.
We wished to test slopes that were high in our hopes
But were lacking in poodles and Totos

We sat around sunning ‘midst peaks that were stunning
We lay back a-drying our sockies
But we’re from the Coast and we like it there most,
But still, here’s not bad – for the Rockies.

With our penchant for sleeping nobody was leaping
Around in the hut before seven
But with plans in the making we thought we would take in
Some more powder slopes to call heaven.
A full day of casin’ the Duchesnay Basin
Put smiles on all skiers’ faces.
The slopes we had dreaded soon were totally shredded
We all were transformed into aces.

Two lads and a lass went for Odoray Pass
Turning back in the face of conditions.
They rejoined us below for a bit of yo-yo
And a few more face-planting renditions.
The return on the trail turned the onlookers pale
As we crashed and we thrashed and we cursed the trees.
There were twigs down our backs and dirt on our packs.
Snow filled the remaining interstices.

These were the days of the Island Bums
New folk will soon be arriving
It’s the end of the week and the joints start to squeak
And we’re getting psyched up for the driving!