Lisa has encouraged me to look back at some of the photos taken in the past. I rarely do this, content with looking at what was taken most recently. She said sometimes I might miss a good one. These two were taken on a wonderful trip along Palliser Pass last summer.
It’s been a long time since I travelled that road, it can be a popular one with both loggers, tourists and locals. The last time was about sixteen years ago. It was with some good friends to spread the ashes of a friend who passed away. He loved it at a cabin on a lake known for fishing. We drank beer, played music and told stories about our lost friend. He loved that spot and spent some of his best days there.
We weren’t heading for the lake however. Before we reached the lake we took off on a well worn logging road. Now we were in an area I hadn’t been to since I was in grade 7. I remember this because, we were on a few nights overnight class trip to a remote cabin in the mountains. We had a good teacher that year and she was up for just about anything. I remember it being a good trip.
My father picked us up at the trailhead on the way out. On the drive back we stopped and soaked in a natural hot springs. I can still remember the girls in their bikinis. A 12 year old remembers such things, even if they forget how to find the same spot forty-some-odd years later.
And that is what we were looking for, those old natural hot spring pools. Except things had changed. For one thing, there are way more logging roads. Second the road to the hot springs no longer exists. No cell service to use GPS, not that that would have helped me anyway.
After about an hour driving the backroads we settled on a spot to start hiking. I wasn’t sure we were in the right place. A hike would be good after rattling around over potholes and frozen puddles.
Once we started hiking I wasn’t too concerned about finding the hot springs. There was plenty to see, the trees were covered in snow, the creeks had fish, birds chirped and sometimes showed themselves, chickadees, buntings, grosbeaks, solitaires and even a couple dippers.
I tried to remembering landmarks from years ago, but it was no use. They only way we would find the springs was by the research done before we left the house.
We rose up through the pass and started hiking down. I could remember overlooking the Kootenay valley. Not far down and we followed a crack in the mountain to mist and a slight smell of sulfur. There they were, the hot springs. Just like I remembered rocks had been arranged to capture the water in pools.
Although the hike wasn’t gruelling a dip was in order. The water soothed the muscles. The air was chilly getting out of the hot water. A quick bite and it was back on the trail to make it out before dark.
Very fine day.
Lisa and I took a quick dash into the bush tonight to look for mushrooms. The weather has been damp and cool so we were hoping to have some luck. Sure enough, they are just starting to break through. We picked a handful, for supper. Most we had to brush the dirt off the tops. They are small and firm, and of the best quality. The soup is on the stove. When I take it off the heat I will add a couple tablespoons of brandy and Marsala and a little cream to finish the mushroom bisque.
The first of the mountain orchids begin to bloom.
It seems orchids and bears start to appear at the same time in the bush. The trick is not to be too focused on one or the other. For instance, if you are just on the lookout for bears you might step on the delicate Venus’s Lady’s Slipper.
A Black Bear says, ‘What are you doing here?’
Conversely, if you are laying on your belly in the moss, intent on focusing your camera on these lovely orchids, you could pop up your head and have a surprise. Awareness is always the best policy.
Follow the ridge. Telemark through the spruce.
There is a little extra daylight. Not much but noticeable. There is something to be said about the colours of winter, deep shades of grey, colours only seen at this time of year, hues of mauve and blue.
Evaluate the shadows in winter to plan a walk in summer.
To be without would be a shame. To see them a gift. The owl on a snag, eagles waiting for a fish or a duck to get separated. The mountain ridge fully defined. And the quiet that accompanies it.
An unnamed, unclimbed mountain – so happy the gore tex climbing hordes
are off shitting on the well known peaks miles from here.
Saw Winter Maker this morning, a waning sliver came up in dawn, later I faced the rising sun taking the cold from my bones; once again saved without having to confess or spend a minute in church. Sometimes you get lucky.
Soon it will be ice.
There are signs everywhere summer is on it’s way out. We have had frost at this time of year. It’s getting close, the other day was 3°c. The garden is flattening, except for the carrots, smoke and cabbage, who are revelling in the cool of night.
Willow casually smokes a cigar in her own private natural spa.
Was along the creek a range over. Willow swam the blue moving water fetching sticks. She learned quickly to use the current to her advantage. I threw sticks into an eddy, they would go around and around then finally spill out into the froth of the main channel. Willow did the same, fighting to get caught in the eddy, then using her thrusters to speed out of the eddy on just the right orbit, capturing the stick every time! It required perfect mathematical calculations on her part – the speed of the eddy, her weight, the speed of the main current, her mass and it’s effect on water resistance; all of that and the same calculations for the stick, just to be safe! Or. . . she just naturally knew what to do. Both are science, both are nature.
The sun went down and turned to twilight, as dramatic as it’s entrance.
Sometimes you really do get lucky.
Cresting the summit.
We have had a few beautiful days. It only seemed right to get into the mountains one more time before the snow started falling in earnest.
Morning light touches the mountain tops. Willow scans the trail ahead.
Willow, Maynard and I set out early and were on the trail before sun up. We climbed up quickly through the bush. I studied the places I was going to have difficulty with coming down. The snow was crisp, but it would be icy directly under the trees come afternoon. Some of the ice would be unavoidable. There was a day I would hop, skip and jump down the trail.
Maynard and Willow walk the ridge.
Now I am more economical, to put it kindly. Not to many waisted steps. Some of those steps are damn slow. It reminds me that I have to stay in shape so I can show these places to Cooper and Scarlett.
In some places the snow was hard and others I broke through. On the ridge the snow was windblown hard or blown off the rocks so the going was relative easy.
Looking back along the windy ridge.
Willow led the way. Maynard stayed right with me.
The sky and sun was brilliant. The next snowstorm will make the ridge inaccessible.
Hypnotizing Maynard and Willow with a piece of cheese.
When we got back to the truck I had a cold coffee waiting for me. It hit the spot. The hounds slept the way home. Very fine day.
Fall Fireweed gone to seed.
Whew! Thank goodness the summer is over. There is always a sigh of relief after Labour Day. All my white clothes have been cleaned and pressed and put away. This morning there was no standing in line at the coffee shop while a herd of tourists looked at the chalk board menu like they had never seen the word ‘coffee’ before. I was in and out like a wedding dink. It’s fall, back to Carharts, plaid long sleeved shirts and not driving ten miles out of the way to avoid downtown.
Solomon’s Seal berries.
It was close to frost this morning. My wise sister Deb has covered her plants tonight. I’m going to risk it. I could be sorry come morning. We have had a great year of tomatoes with most of them ripening on the vine. There won’t be many green ones to ripen inside this year. They are delicious! It will be at least February before I’ll be able to buy one in the store.
I got a text from my good neighbour. He is on a road trip going across BC visiting his kids and grandkids. It’s been awhile since he’s been able to do that. I thought he may want to know how his garden is doing, I’ve been looking after it in his absence. Instead, he said his laptop was stolen from his vehicle in Vancouver. He was pissed. In the spring he stopped in Canmore and had a giant block of cheese he bought at Costco stolen from the cooler in his vehicle.
He really has to start locking his doors, but I wasn’t going to say that. I texted back, ‘on the bright side think of the fun you will have filling up a fresh laptop with brand new porn’. An hour later, I was getting worried I’d stepped over the line, then a bing on my phone, ‘you know it.’
Rose Hips. As plumb and full as I’ve seen in the wild. It is said they have 20x more vitamin C then oranges.
It’s good to have the land cooling after another bad summer. Winters are traditionally bad in the valley. Work drying up. Only minimum wage. Cold and overcast in the valley bottom. No doubt this winter will bring challenges.
Fall is underway. The firewood is in. I worry like usual, maybe someday all the demons will come home to roost. ’til then the colours keep changing and the birds keep flying above the creeks.
Above the lake.
It seems these last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. Lisa and I still make time to get out in the bush regularly. The weather has been clear and hot. The garden is chugging right along.
Our children have been out to visit. It has been nice to have them with plenty of laughter filling the house. We helped move Lisa’s parents into a new home. Their old place was getting too large for them. Now they live just a stone’s throw from us. This is a relief for Lisa. It was so nice to see our kids taking time away from their schedules in the city to come home and make their grandparents welcome. They think the world of their Grandparents, and know how hard they have worked for everything. Lisa and I are very proud of our children.
Glacier Lillies. Maddy and Lisa telling Chad to pay attention,
while he takes a photo of the large peaks.
The photos in this post are from a place I find very special. Lisa, Maddy, Chad, Willow and I hiked in yesterday. It has been several years since we have been there, due to roads and bridges washed out. There was a time I would hike from wherever the road ended. But I was young and stubborn then. My Father and I even had some long hikes into Leman Lake.
Back then the trail crossed several slides with tall skunk cabbage and elder bushes. It was closed in thick. You never knew if a bear or moose was going to be waiting for you around the next corner.
We all looked in vain for a way to cross the swift creek. While Lisa, Chad and I were looking for a deadfall across, we noticed Maddy on the other side putting her boots back on. That ended the search. We all took off our boots rolled up our pant legs and subjected our feet to freezing cold water and sharp rocks. Willow crossed enthusiastically, got caught in the current, and came out about twenty yards downstream.
We took time to rest, along the trail. It was still steep and in some places overgrown. Lisa reminisced about hiking here while pregnant with Kelsie. Being pregnant never slowed her down. We wondered around marvelling at the sights and smells.
The hike reminded me to try to stay in good enough shape to be able to show these places to Cooper and Scarlett when they are old enough to hike the mountains on their own. That will be sooner than a blink of an eye. Yet that same, seemingly small, time will start taking a toll on my hips and knees. No doubt, just as my father, my balance will be tested on logs over the creek and I’ll curse the rain for making the rocks slippery.
Willow takes a dip.
We looked for wild flowers and porcupine quills. Maddy and Lisa alerted Chad to pay attention, because, if I pointed out a ‘Glacier Lily’ on the way up, I may ask him what it was on the way down and he better know the answer.
Sky, rock, bush and water.
To experience these places with loved ones is a gift. The colour of the lake, the sky and large mountains, the smell of spring slides bringing down old spruce, the ice and snow and how I cheer it now, thinking if we could only get a few cold years the glaciers could build up again, how I am a fool to think such things are up to me, the fish and bears and all the wild flowers, the overgrown trail with so many ghosts and so much yet to show.
I always try to look extra hard before I leave, because I never know when I will see it all again.