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!