WORDS BY ALISON JONES | FEB 28, 2019
Sakura is like any other 10-year old; carefree and smiling, she is eternally curious about the world around her.
But there is a defining factor that sets her apart from the other kids her age, and that is she’s also the youngest ever recipient of the CMH Alpinist Award.
Alpinist Awards are presented to guests as a show of gratitude in recognition of the exploration they’ve accomplished through their multiple visits and time spent at the lodges.
With just under a decade under her belt in this world, Sakura has notched an impressive 30 alpinist points to her name, which represents the number of days spent adventuring with CMH within the surrounding landscapes.
So where did it all start? And what do the summer trips mean to Sakura?
Interestingly, it’s Sakura’s grandparents who were the instigators; for them, it has always been incredibly important not only for Sakura to spend quality time in nature but to do so with people from different parts of the world.
“We always wanted Sakura to experience CMH in summer because it allows her to meet people from all over the world, to communicate with them and to share the mountains with others who have traveled there for the same purpose”, says her grandfather, Yoshikuni.
After hiking within the Canadian Rockies for many years, Yoshikuni and his wife Reiko wanted to try something special – a bucket list item. Consequently, they came across heli-accessed hiking, an experience that allowed them to discover and roam the pristine landscapes of British Columbia via helicopter. Unbeknown to them, the summer trip they took with Sakura would have such a lasting impression on both themselves and their granddaughter, that they would find themselves returning to CMH in a sort of annual pilgrimage.
“Before we went on a summer trip with CMH, we’d hiked within the Canadian Rockies for 5 years. We were fascinated by mountains, lakes, and flowers surrounding the glaciers. But we’d read about CMH Summer Adventures in a magazine and decided we had to go for ourselves”.
That first trip, and the many that followed, evoked a beautiful understanding within Sakura. When asked about her favourite memories, she answers, “At home, I don’t get to see my grandparents that easily, so spending time with them at a lovely CMH lodge, while eating delicious food, is good. I get to hike in the beautiful scenery and can play a lot”.
An answer so simple and wonderful. But truly, what better way is there to explain it?
Of course, there are the added cool points that the trips include a helicopter – which is a big win for any kid or adult. “I love boarding on the helicopter. It lets me see glaciers and mountains from high up”, adds Sakura.
“I love the guides; they make me feel very comfortable to play together with them”, she continues. “And I’ve made many friends from different counties. I also met lots of animals, and I played with water in front of the lodge. I love the costume parties, the dancing and rock climbing in the lodge. My favourite thing to do is to look for crystal stones in the mountains”.
It’s easy to understand why Sakura’s grandparents prioritize this type of family travel experience for their granddaughter. Not only does it offer them a chance to spend time with her away from the crowds that are commonplace on a regular vacation, but by bringing Sakura with them to CMH it gives her a taste for a special type of adventure.
The feeling of what it really means to explore the outdoors, to wander among nature in its greatest form, and to do so in small groups of like-minded people that she wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to spend time with.
Along with the memories, this appreciation of the environment and an inherent sense of intrepid wanderlust is something they wanted their granddaughter to inherit. It’s an ethereal gift they’re able to pass down from them to her.
“In our daily lives, we always think about what we can leave and what we can convey to our grandchildren; to us, that means to show them how to live strongly in both mind and body.”
And Sakura, with all of those Alpinist points to her name, we asked her what she wants to be when she grows up. Thinking perhaps, she would say Mountain Guide or Pilot.
Her answer? “I’d like to be a figure skater”.