The weekend is over. . .

. . . and what a beautiful weekend it was!

Tim and I took off to Miette for our anniversary.  This trip has become something of a tradition with us.  This is year 3.  The weather was gorgeous and the hot springs just the thing we needed to soak our cares away.

We got in around 7:30 Friday night and immediately headed up to the hot springs.  We sat and relaxed til they kicked everyone out at 9.  Then we went back and I made us a late snack.  We sat outside enjoying the cool mountain air and had a glass of wine (me) and a beer (him).  Lovely.

Saturday we slept in a bit then had a hearty breakfast I cooked in a hurry.  Then, we packed up a light lunch and headed off to Mount Edith Cavell and the Angel Wings Glacier.  We took a short trip down to Lake Edith where I took a few pictures of the lake and some fungi.  A very beautiful spot.  Have driven by there numerous times, am glad we took the time to explore it.

Up at the parking lot I was surprised to see a crowded lot.  Apparently many others had the same idea we did to enjoy what could be the last nice weekend in the mountains.  We donned our hiking boots, I slung my camera over my neck and Tim packed along his book, some writing paper and a bottle of water.  I told him he wouldn’t have an opportunity to read or make notes, but he insisted.  (Didn’t turn a page or scribble one single note — hah!)

We decided to just to the glacier loop trail, rather than try going up to the meadows.  Good thing.  The way we dawdled along we’d have been up there in the dark.  We had a great time scrabbling over rock and getting close to the glacier pond’s edge.  Very beautiful, but very cold.  Then we decided to head up to the ice cave, which is hollowed out at the toe of what used to be the tail end of the angel’s body.  Over time the glacier has separated so that now the wings hover far above the ‘body’ or toe.

It’s quite spectacular to get up close to the cave and I had wanted to get some interior shots, but when we heard cracking and rocks falling inside we thought we’d better get the hell out of there.  Others actually went inside, but I think that’s tempting fate just a little too much.  Adventurous I am, fool-hardy I am not.

We spent a lovely afternoon there at the glacier, taking pictures, talking, just hanging out together.  We don’t often get to do that.  Yes, we spend lots of time together, but never just relaxing time.  Later, when we meandered back down to the parking lot, we drove a short distance to where there were some picnic tables in a stream bed.  It was very chilly, but a lovely spot.  We opened our cooler and had a hearty meal of ham sausage, cheese bread and raw veggies.  All washed down with a nice cold beer.  I could have sat there until the sun went down, but we had plans to go soak our weary feet in the hot springs again.

This morning, we were up at 5:30 because I wanted to see if I could get some mountain sunrise shots.  This is when I discovered I’d forgotten my tripod.  Doh!  Decided to go anyway.  So off we set in the pitch dark to find the spot I’d pegged as being a good bet for some morning pictures.  We got there about 6 a.m. only to find a camper parked on the side.  Well, tough, I said.  It’s a free country and they shouldn’t be there, anyway.

We marvelled at the beauty of the sky and the unbelievable multitude of stars overhead.  With all the light pollution in and around Edmonton, we never get to see the kind of sky we saw this morning.  Gradually, very gradually the horizon began to lighten.  I was beginning to despair that, in the mountains, sunrise would not be the glorious spectacle that it is on the prairie, and to some degree, I was right.  But, when the sky began to turn pink and the opposing mountains to glow warm in the emerging sun’s fiery light, I smiled deeply and was glad I was there to see it.

It’s an embarrassing admission on my part to say that in all the years I’ve been going to the mountains I have never once been up early enough to see the sun rise.  Isn’t that sad?  But, then, I think, at least I’ve made the effort now.  And, now that I’ve seen how glorious it is, I will be sure to do it again.

By the time I got my few shots of Ashlar Ridge (most of them blurry) Tim and I were thoroughly chilled.  He had wrapped himself in a blanket and was standing behind me trying to keep me as warm as he could.  I had thin gloves on to keep my fingers from freezing, but, by the time I had decided it wasn’t going to get any better I was shivering through and through.  We hopped in the car and cranked up the heat.  We had been up and out for two hours.  Tim turned the car back towards the resort.  As we drove along I noticed through the trees that the sky had turned to fire.  I pointed out a small pull out on the east side of the road and Tim obliged.

This is where I took the really distinct shots of the sunrise.  Again, cursing myself for forgetting the tripod, I stood and shot until my knees were knocking.  Then, back to the car, back to the resort, back to our room and a warm bed.  We had to throw on extra blankets and we huddled together as though we’d never be warm again, but eventually, we fell back asleep.

Awake again at 9:30 we packed up our belongings, loaded the car and then went for breakfast in the small restaurant attached to the resort.  This resort was built in 1938, and you can tell that not much has changed since it was first established.  It is not ‘fancy’, definitely not 5 star, but it is extremely popular.  Many of the guests who come at the time of year Tim and I have chosen to come have been coming to the Miette Resort for over 20 years.  Some, I believe, much longer than that.

It is a homey, friendly, clean and well-kept little place.  The hot springs are a mere 3-minute walk from the door of your room, and, best of all, it’s quiet.  There are no stores, no streets, no traffic — nothing but fresh air and trees and sky and mountains.  We’ve already planned our trip for next year.  Only next year, if the weather is good, we’re going up on the motorcycle.  That will be truly wonderful.

The trip home was a quiet ride.  It’s always tough to leave a fantasy and go back to the reality of home and work.  But we enjoyed the beautiful scenery, the golds of the poplars and aspens, the near-black of the pines interspersed throughout.  The highway was busy — everyone heading home after what was probably their last camping trip or their weekend in the Rockies.

There is one particular mountain that I love to look at as we leave the park.  I don’t know the name of it, but it is an amazing formation.  And I always marvel that at one time what I am looking up at in wonder and awe was the bottom of an ocean floor.  In a way that I can’t explain that knowledge always puts life in to perspective for me.  What we have in this life is truly beautiful, truly blessed.  And I am grateful.

Advertisement

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Well, I survived the white water rafting.  What scary fun!

Literally, I was scared half to death.  I have this love/fear thing with water.  I’m fascinated by it, love the romanticism of it, the beauty and mystery of it, but, I’m terrified of drowning.

As the old cliché goes, though:  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Or, it makes you scream:  “Holy Shit!”  a lot.  Really a lot.

Thank God there are young men in this world like Brock, our guide, who revel in this sort of adventurous life-style and make it their duty to take excellent care of us holiday thrill-seekers.  These young men (and women) who work these types of jobs are truly heroic.

I chose, purposely, to sit at the back next to our guide as I figured (rightly) that it would be the safest place on the boat.  If I was going to be pitched overboard, at least he’d be there to grab me right away.  Thankfully, for both of us, that never happened.

But, we came close.

A class IV rapid is a scary, scary beast.  Big drops in the water called bowls, where the raft just plunges down into, huge waves  that slam the raft about as if it were a toy, and the loud, angry churning of the water all around, so loud you can barely hear the instructions to get your oar into the water and paddle HARD!

Then, you’re out of it and laughing, amazed that the last 30 seconds of your life were lived so intensely, but there’s no time to contemplate your success because Brock is hollering:  “Okay, here we are, oars in the water on my go!  WE DO NOT WANT TO GO FOR A SWIM HERE, DO YOU HEAR ME?”  And then, it’s another class IV, this one bigger and nastier than the last.

I nearly came out of the boat on that one.  Ass up in the air.  The only thing that saved me was the ropes.  The lovely, lovely ropes.  I grabbed on and held on.  To hell with paddling!  Meanwhile, Brock is up behind us, steering us out of the rapids.  The amount of physical strength such a feat must take.

I asked him after if he was done for the day.  Nope.  They would be going out with another group almost as soon as we got back.  There was a break for lunch of about an hour.  But that was it.

My hats off to them all — they are an amazing bunch of young people.

The rafting was the highlight of my trip to the mountains this time.  Usually, it’s just hiking, but this time we decided to switch things up a bit.

Our first day we drove to Field, B.C., where we stayed with some friends of Heather’s.  Wonderful people.  We drove up to Takkakaw Falls and got soaked, partly because of the mist spraying off the falls, (which are beautiful) but mostly because of the rain.

Rain has plagued us now for nearly two weeks.  Straight.  We are sick of it.  We had hoped that up in the mountains it would be drier and more summer-like.  But, no.  It was overcast and rainy most of the time.  We did not let that dampen (ha ha) our spirits or our plans.  Albertans, Canadians, in general, are an intrepid bunch.  Especially as our summers are so damned short.

Sunshine or not, temps barely in the teens or not, we are going to get out there and enjoy ourselves.

After the rafting, we had a couple of hours of down time and then we headed into Banff to pick up our hot springs tickets and to go for our trail ride.  It was a lovely ride, a bit cool, and unfortunately a nose to tail affair, but really, quite lovely to trek on horseback into the mountains.

We’ve decided that our next adventure just might be a 3 or 4 day horseback trip into the back country.  I think that would be fun.  But I’ll have to really take some strong measures to stretch and stretch and stretch.  My knees and groin tendons were just screaming after two hours on the back of a horse.

Sunday, we drove back into Banff for a small hike around Johnson Lake and then a soak in

the Banff Hot Springs.  It was lovely.  But, I have to say I do prefer the hot springs at Miette over the ones at Banff.  Up at Miette you are surrounded by mountains, at Banff you’ve got a view of one mountain and then the hotel.  Just not the same experience.

Monday, Heather and I got up and left Lynn who had to return to work that day and drove through the mountains via the Columbia

Highway and then into Jasper.  We stopped at Mount Edith Cavell for a short hike around the base of the Angel Wing Glacier, and oohed and aahed over the lovely alpine flowers.

The glacier put on a grand show by delivering a number of avalanches down onto the tail that hangs above the foot of the glacier and the glacier pond below.  Was quite amazing to watch.  The sound was like a freight train or jet flying very low overhead.  Then there would be a massive crack and the snow would cascade down over the rock face.  Very beautiful.

So, now, I’m back at home.  My mini vacation is over. I’ve got a bazillion things to do and time is flying by.

Hope everyone is enjoying this break.  Let’s all pray for sunshine and summer weather!