14 days of Rocky Mountains hiking in what ET calls venues of delight.
Organized by Rob Gadd Glaser, I tramped with between 4 and 18 others. Logistics were complex as you might imagine.
Only ET, Rob and I signed on for the full two weeks in the woods. That was 2 weeks of alpine splendor and the benefit of Rob’s duct-tape-like folk wisdom. Rob is a carpenter (like Jesus) and a fireman (which Jesus never mastered).
In the wild, away from mundane distractions like work, e-mail and loved ones, you come up with the best ideas. Like Rob’s concept of smell-amplifiers.
Helicoptering in to Assiniboine I had the heaviest pack — over 70 pounds. You are allowed 40 pounds. Is it cheating to take the chopper? Yup, but it is 7 minutes rather than 7 hours to reach the continental divide.
Assiniboine was gorgeous as ever. We set up in the overflow meadow. ET woke one night to pee and had an ethereal experience with stars and a resident mule deer.
Second day we scrambled high on Wedgewood, part of the Assiniboine massif. Caves and crap rock with plenty of death fall potential.
ET nearly died, in fact. As I turned to inform her how to dodge a falling stone, I saw a rock bounding down the mountain towards her. ET was frozen in place during the last 2 bounces. A split second before the stone hit her in the head, she moved a foot or two to the right. Whizzzzz.
It was a huge open scree slope. The single rock came from nowhere. Perhaps God sent a warning shot.
We got lost the next day and had to wild camp. Best fun was hanging our food between some rock pinnacles.
Later we were lucky to be able to watch a Grizzly at work, only the second I have ever seen.
A bigger highlight for Rob was hiking through a forest fire burnout from a year previous. We saw literally millions of odd twitching caterpillars devouring fireweed which sprouts quickly after a fire.
We cheated again on our 2 weeks of continual hiking by returning to Bragg Creek for a terrific party at Rob’s log house in Bragg Creek.
(What do you call people who live in Bragg Creek? …
When Rob’s van door wouldn’t close on departure next morning, he pulled out his drill gun. Screw it.
We continued on to Tumbling Glacier, joined by Les and 3 adventurous teens including 2 of Rob’s sons. It was fun to scramble the glacier itself.
Finally we reached gorgeous Lake O’Hara, perhaps the most scenic idyll in the Canadian Rockies. We joined the annual Glaser / Cartwright family reunion at O’Hara. We had children as young as age-6 enjoying the mountains.
As an educator I love getting kids into the wild.
I sagely advised them to hike with open umbrellas — the best defence against drop squirrels which are regular squirrels gone vampire with rabies. Squirrels chatter then drop down on to mammals to suck the blood from our necks!
We warned too of the Rocky Mountain barking spider — often heard, smelled … but never seen.
At Lake McArthur there was a bit of incentive for boys to jump off a cliff. Before jumping they toss a boulder to soften the water — to reduce the circus tension as little Anna calls it.
Calgary Folk Fest was another treat of the summer. Headliners were Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle, partners in world weary Americana roots music. I liked Steve’s line, “I bin happily married … 5 times.“
Finally, the biggest highlight of the year. Kyle Shewfelt from Altadore is Olympic champion on Floor Exercise, an unbelievable accomplishment. I heard the fantastic news while hiking the West Coast Trail with RC & BM. I cried & then had a victory swim in a gorgeous waterfall
Kyle’s coach Kelly Manjak celebrated a week later with the birth of a son.
Tomorrow I depart for South America. More news from there.