by Karen Frazier, Managing Editor
Paranormal Underground Magazine
Warning: I have been up all night. I’m exhausted. And punchy. I’ll try to get through this with as much decorum as possible. I think some exhausted hallucinating might have taken place, because towards the end, I’m pretty sure I saw my husband in a royal blue bobsledding singlet that hugged his curves, long wool socks and hiking boots.
There are a few times in life where you do something that can either wind up as an adventure or a Darwin Award. I’m happy to report that ours wound up as an adventure. Late yesterday afternoon, eight of us set out in two jeeps and a truck to try and get down a sloppy, snowy, winding ridge into the site of the Wellington avalanche. Why? Because 1:42 a.m. this morning was the 100 year anniversary of the exact moment of the avalanche that killed 96 people and greatly affected this place that we have all grown to love.
I’d like to take you there with me now. I am an out of shape, overweight soccer mom in her mid-40s. I was dressed in enough layers that I was like the kid from A Christmas Story who is so immobilized by his snow clothes that he can’t move. Thank God I didn’t try to make a snow angel. The snow was, in places, up to five feet deep and slushy from a day in the sunshine. The jeeps and truck got stuck a few times and had to be shoveled out until, ultimately, we wound up with about a mile long hike into Wellington through three to four feet of slush.
Remember the outta shape soccer mom thing? Oh yeah – I’m feeling it today. But I’m tired, so its taken on kind of a surreal quality.
Anyway our cast of characters was diverse. Sort of. We went in with NWPIA, which included Bert and Jayme Coates (also in their 40s, but far more in shape…), my husband Jim of the blue bobsledding singlet (although that might have been a hallucination), Tim Corr of NWPIA, the lovely Bobby and Jennifer of NWPIA, and our own personal MacGyver – Joe.
When we left the vehicles by the side of the road, we had all sorts of equipment in tow on a sled and a giant rubber raft. And no – I was not part of the cargo. We brought in five medical kits, some sleeping bags, food, paranormal and filming equipment, tripods, chairs, knives, machetes, one pair of electric socks, a few guns just in case we encountered hungry cougars or box mouth beavers as well as assorted drinking straws, bubble gum, clothes hangers and paper clips for MacGyver to fashion various operational gadgets out of. We may or may not have also toted in with us a bright blue bobsledding singlet. I also had in tow a few toys for the kids of Wellington.
We arrived in the snow shed by about 8 p.m. and set up a bonfire at the eastern end. Then we waited and warmed up by the fire. I’m sure we all had our own personal reasons for wanting to be at Wellington for the 100 year anniversary of the disaster, but on one thing we all agreed. We wanted to be there for the spirits who remain at Wellington. Whether the anniversary made them active or peaceful was of secondary importance, but Wellington is important enough to all eight of us that we were willing to risk a Darwin Award to spend the night there.
This isn’t about our experiences last night. We had a few interesting ones that are currently being analyzed, and we haven’t analyzed any evidence. When we do, if we found something, I am sure it will be shared here and on NWPIA’s website. Instead, it is about eight people seizing a chance of a lifetime to take somewhat extraordinary measures to be at Wellington on the anniversary of the disaster.
Wellington was peaceful. There was a full moon that lit up the sky and made the snow sparkle. We heard owls calling to us. We shared time with others who shared a common love of Wellington. We watched Joe use his gum, drinking straws and pull tabs to fashion amazing gear that got us through the night. We talked to the spirits and told them we were there for them, and that we didn’t expect them to do any tricks for us – but just to know that we were there.
At 1:42 a.m., we all stood in the snow shed and no doubt reflected on what happened at that exact moment, 100 years ago. After 1:42 a.m., I saw flashes in my mind of the aftermath of the avalanche – residents running down into the ravine in the frigid cold, diving head first into banks of snow to remove survivors and dead alike. Bodies were strapped onto sleds to be removed from the wreckage. In the pictures I’ve seen, they looked a lot like the gear we had strapped to sleds that we hauled in with us. As we sat in front of our fire and warded off the below freezing temperatures, I couldn’t help but think how cold those people who were buried in the snow were, and how cold their rescuers were as they worked in frigid and icy conditions to save lives and recover those who were lost.
There we sat until first light, sharing space and hearts with our friends from Wellington. As the sun rose on the eastern horizon, we once again strapped our gear to sleds and pulled them back up the hill to our waiting vehicles. By 9 a.m., we were out on the main road and on our way with an experience under our belts that only seven other people shared. And I’m glad we did. I wouldn’t have traded the experience (including the singlet, exhaustion and sore muscles) for anything in the world.
Karen’s Note: Please do not attempt this on your own. It was rough going!
Enjoy reading Karen’s blog? Her new book, Avalanche of Spirits: The Ghosts of Wellington> is now available. Click here to buy.