Nicole Grove at the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous’ Madam Trapper competition

Yukon Tough

Nicole Grove  at the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous’ Madam Trapper competitionNicole Grove  at the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous’ Madam Trapper competitionNicole Grove  at the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous’ Madam Trapper competition

A graduate of the Porter Creek Secondary School in the Class of 2009, Nicole Grove, 26, has always been physically strong. Back in 2003, in the days of Hidden Valley Elementary School, Nicole was a gold medalist in the Annual Yukon Wrestling Tournament. In training, she competed with the boys and in a game of “sharks” she once bit a chunk out of a team mate’s arm as a last resort to keep from being choked.

Still fighting, Nicole trains weekly with the Company of the White Wolf, a medieval fighting group in Whitehorse. She never became a professional fighter, not for lack of skill, but as she says, “I took advice from a friend; I didn’t want to end up with cauliflowers for ears.”

Once again this year Nicole tested her strength and skills at the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous’ Madam Trapper competition, which took place on February 25 and 26. The competition is a series of challenges, including the Chainsaw Chuck, Axe Throw and Swede Saw/Log Split. This year was Nicole’s fourth time competing in the competition, and she came in third place in the Log Toss with 15 feet 7 inches.

(Overall, Hannah Warrington and Karina Watson tied for first place for the title of Madam Trapper, and Shonagh McCrindle took second place at the competition.)

Love – and fun – are ultimately what Nicole aspires to in life. And both are certainly on her side. She found the love of her life – Mike Pearson – in Whitehorse.

“We met online,” she says with a look that says, “it is possible!”

She met Mike through the dating site It was the picture of Nicole with a baby elk in her arms that did it for Mike. They met at the new Starbucks in town and talked till closing time. The next day they went to bale hay at Nicole’s parents’ farm. Note: Mike is allergic to hay – the things you do for love.

And after all that Mike phoned his grandma and said, “I found the one!” That was six years ago.

But let’s stay on track; here’s what else Nicole did after high school. After graduation in 2009, she continued to work for her parents on the farm and attended Yukon College in September where she was in Liberal Arts and focused on the Sciences.

If that wasn’t enough, she also became the president of the Yukon College Student Union, and took on the job of bouldering supervisor at the climbing wall in the Yukon College gymnasium.

In addition, she had a part time job doing custodial work in the college.

In the end, it was too much.

“I was so swamped, my head was not in the game for education,” Nicole says.

Yet over the years she has done a lot of learning: she got her outdoor leadership certificate and studied Southern Tutchone (an Athapaskan language spoken in the southwestern part of the Yukon). Nicole got her Air Brakes Endorsement, to be able to operate equipment fitted with an air brake system, and she has enough Emergency Medical Responder certificates to work in an outlying community as a paramedic.

At the moment, Nicole is back working at the farm and at Titan Gaming and Collectibles in town. She has also worked elsewhere over the years. She worked for four years with a construction company on the road roller, which is a compactor used in road construction.

After that job, she and Mike tried their luck at a gold mine in Dawson: Tony Beet’s mine, which is one of the mines featured on the History Channel’s television series Yukon Gold.

If working in a gold mine isn’t crazy enough by itself, you might like to try repeating everything you say three times because the camera crew wants to get it on film. Nicole was part of the six girl crew driving the rock truck, Too bad three of them, including Nicole, quit before their part was broadcast, hence, Nicole never became a Dawson Hollywood star.

Nicole and Mike were offered a job at her parent’s farm in the Whitehorse area, called El Dorado Game Ranch. However, Mike took a job at the neighbouring farm, which included the possibility of renting a cabin. And that is where I visited Nicole to interview her. She had drawn me a detailed map, which lead me through gullies and up and over hills. I had to walk the last part, as it was in that week that all the snow melted and became ice, and there on top of the hill was a dream cabin like the ones I drew as a child: a little house on top of a hill, pine trees hugging the house.

Nicole and Mike live off-the-grid and they like that a lot. Maybe one day they would like to own their own off-the-grid property – they are thinking of buying property in Keno and continuing the lifestyle they have come to love. But first they need money. So Nicole is in the market for a better paying job. Eventually she might still further her education, as she is also good at academics.

“I really like the sciences: biology,” she told me. “Maybe nursing, something with people or animals or the environment.”

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