The first time I skied with Dave Treadway I was so petrified that I was shaking in my boots. I could feel fear rushing through my veins and into the core of my soul, but it wasn’t because we were about to drop into some gnarly spine in Alaska or because we had moutaineered our way up some untouched peak in the Waddington range. Nope, I was terrified because Dave and his wife Tessa were insisting that I take my one-and-a-half-year-old daughter up the Magic Chair – the, um, bunny hill at the base of Blackcomb Mountain. Let it be known, I had no grandiose ideas of getting off the little kiddie carpet on Sofia’s first day on skis.
While these two humans with big hearts and giant smiles tried to pump me full of confidence, all I could conjure up were images of broken bones that would happen if I tried to ski Sofia off a chairlift for our first time. Tessa and Dave refused to let me go my own way, which might I add was nowhere fast and their enthusiasm finally allowed me to put all my faith in them. Within seconds their son Kasper was on a chairlift with Dave, and Tessa was wrangling Sofia and I up the Magic Chair. I white knuckled the bar so tight that I’m pretty sure Tessa had to wrestle it out of my gloves when we got to the top.
Kasper’s girlfriends: Sofia and Maggie
As I watched Tessa ski backwards, coaxing Sofia to ski into her arms while Dave and Kasper lapped circles around us, a feeling of gratitude washed over me. You see, I was struggling with letting go of my old life of snowboarding all winter with friends that lived by the mantra of “no friends with kids on a pow day.” I was torn between two worlds of wanting to be in the mountains but also wanting to be with my daughter. In that moment in time I knew I had met my kind of people.
Please note: The two kids in the far right are my niece and nephew. They have come to watch another family (the Treadways) teach Sofia to ski.
I will always look back on that year when a pack of us parents came together to form our own little grom squad: Kasper, Cooper, Maggie, Jaxon, Micah, Beatrice, (Jonah in his mama’s backpack) all in diapers and bagging more lines than those big kids up in staff housing. For a good laugh we would take this little brat pack for apres at Merlins and let them dance on tables with their ski boots on like they were born in a bar in the European Alps. The waitresses would come around with shots of milk and these wild kids would send it hard into nap time. By the end of the winter, Kasper was ripping all mountain, and within a year he would go on to film his first legit video part at two years old. Legendary indeed.
Left to right: Fred Young, Maggie Young, Dave Treadway, Tessa Treadway, Daryl Treadway, Kasper Treadway, Micah Treadway, Emily Oja, Natalie Langmann, Sofia Towers, Pamela Treadway, Jonah Treadway (in backpack), Cooper Lyons, Carrie Meltzer
When that first winter wrapped, Tessa and Dave told us they were heading north to a ranch where they were caretakers on Cochin Lake (near Bella Coola).
“Come on up,” they said.
I don’t think they believed us when we said we would, but within three weeks, Darin, Sofia and I had hit the backroads through Marble Canyon, past the Jesmond lookout, and into the wild west. We camped along the hoodoos beside the Chilcotin River, and drove through Farwell Canyon, the Grand Canyon of BC, which finally spat us out into where ginormous mountains grew out of lakes. An area where I reckon is truly God’s country. Clearly it was also Dave’s country as he was keen to point out he lines he had skied and the lines he had been scoping out on his dirtbike that he was going to ski.
We camped in a cabin on their lake, watched Tessa wrangle up the Belgium horses at night, feed the chickens, rode dirt bikes (well, I rode Kaspers) and ATVs, fished while our kids ran around dirty and happy.
Nights around the campfire Dave would tell us stories of a life well lived. Stories of chasing his brothers out to BC, and tales of growing up travelling the world with his parents on their missionary pursuits. How his dad had traded carpentry skills to build multi-family homes while his mom taught English so the family could live in Brazil for a year. He spoke of how he lived with Brett Carlson’s parents in high school so his parents could be contestants on Pioneer Quest: A Year in the Real West, the Canadian reality TV series that recreated what it was like to be early Homesteaders in Manitoba. My brain is a little foggy since that night around the fire, but I think his folks might have won.
With tales like these, it is of little wonder, that Dave had his own vision for his family, and the campfire conversations would roll into how he wanted to live in his camper and roam around to ski resorts with his family. He spoke of pitching his own television show or series about his family’s pursuits, which he would soon dub the Free Range Family. Dave was fairly adamant that everyone would find divine joy in living life this way. Over the next few years, it was amazing to watch their adventures come to fruition and watch them welcome Raffi into their Free Range Family.
All I can think since Dave left this world on Monday, April 15th, 2019 is how much we need to come together to carry on Dave’s stoke. How much we need to teach his boys how to carve out their own paths in life. How we all need to CHASE LIFE with love and open arms.
There are mountains and mountains of love for you Tessa, Kasper, Raffi and the future baby Treadway…mountains of love that stretch all the way from Golden, BC, and out to the Coast, up through Bella Coola and into Alaska and beyond. Dave, we were truly blessed to have had you on this earth. xo
Follow along for a lifetime of adventures on instagram: @freerange.family
Story Hive of Dave’s docu-life vision: https://www.storyhive.com/project/show/id/3747
In lieu of flowers please consider donating in support of Dave’s immediate family here: