This is another cast back over the past three weeks as there were too many good things to skip. In this post, we look at a few of the highs and lows. In the first post we covered the helicopter hover exit training, and we covered the giant elk. We covered the rain, and we covered some of the best historical photos juxtaposed against the repeats. Some of what we didn’t cover follows:

HIGH 1: At one of our stations, we were dropped off on a gorgeous ridge, overlooking the Elk Lakes in Kananaskis country. We stood on that ridge looking far and wide, and couldn’t get our photos to match! We were dismayed. Our pilot had landed on a flat below us, and unfortunately (as his machine needs to stay at some elevation for the radio), we couldn’t make contact with him. Suddenly, the snow on our ridge dawned on us, and the following terrible event happened:

SNOWBALL FIGHT! Early June. Jenna running from the snowball I’m about to launch. (Helicopter was down the ridge to the right of the photo.) (Photo credit: Mary Sanseverino)

Fortunately, we were able to connect with our pilot, shortly after.

LOW 1: One of our prettiest stations – and certainly the best smelling, on account of the loose-leaved lousewort and alpine lupines that strode this meadow in abundance – was called Bull Creek. This was also the station where Mary and I suddenly heard a yelp from Jenna! The TRIPOD had decided to take a bite out of her palm! A sizable blue-y red blister followed, and she and I went to go bandage it up, while Mary continued to straighten our tripod. This was our trooper a short while later:

Jenna at our Bull Creek Station, Nichols Survey, 1916. (Photo credit: Heike Lettrari)

LOW 2: on our loooooonng drive up the stunning Highway 93, the Icefields Parkway, we drove right up beside the lake that nearly glows in the photo below. It was a sweltering day. We decided to have a dip in this glacial-fed lake (read: freezing!). So, while Jenna and I froze our tiny toes, we were sure refreshed for continuing the drive onwards and upwards to Hinton.

Afternoon dip in Lake Abraham, along Highway 93. (Photo credit: Heike Lettrari)

HIGH 2: – this likely because of the elevation – it was our first hike to 2000 meters. Two hours after we set out, we were crunching carrots and gobbling peanut butter and jam bagels. This was our lunchsite:

Cute alpine meadow that hosted us for lunch! (Photo credit: Mary Sanseverino)

HIGH 3: And this was what the ridge looked like after we’d hiked along 90% of it:

The lovely ridge we just hiked. (Photo credit: Heike Lettrari)

Behind me (from the vantage point of where the photo is looking), was the last part of the ridge, upon which was our station.

And then there was this hairy section:

Crossing, clinging on! (Photo credit: Heike Lettrari)

Though perhaps from our smiles, you can tell that it wasn’t all that bad. (Photo credit: Mary Sanseverino)

Shortly after getting to the top, there was much holding up of the photos and searching for the views:

Jenna and Mary, scouring the landscape for our views! (Photo credit: Heike Lettrari)

We finally located a cairn. And this was Jenna snapping the shots, and me (Heike) filling out the fieldnotes.

The long-hiked for Station 2! Tripod nestled just over top the cairn. (Photo credit: Mary Sanseverino)

HIGH 4: That was also what I’m going to call the Day of Wildlife. On our way up we saw a bear (thankfully two ridges over), who must have been scared by the helicopter that flew by; at altitude, sound carries quickly as there are no barriers to muffle/interfere with the traveling waves. We also saw two deer, and on our way down, we saw this little mama:

Spruce Grouse mother. Can you spot her? These birds rely on camouflage to evade predators, and hold very very still. (Photo credit: Heike Lettrari)

Can you see her? Maybe this is better:

Here she is! Our spruce grouse mother with one of the three young poking his head up! (Photo credit: Heike Lettrari)

The Willmore seems to be a park filled with an abundance of wildlife and rain. Everything is lush and bursting with life. Yes – some of you from the Kootenays will say, “Well, that’s not so spectacular, we have that here, too!” but it’s truly a blast hiking in this park. It’s certainly easy to see how the plants and foliage benefit from the warm weather and the summer rain. I feel like we should be hoarding this space. Not (ahem), telling others about it! I recently picked up “How to Shit in the Woods” by Kathleen Meyer (2011), an incredibly wise and humourous book that imparts exactly what the title states, in many, many different ways. It was a hoot to read, but also had this sobering thought which stuck with me: “Our wild lands shrink. Our urban lifestyles manufacture more madness. Our longing to touch nature increases. More high use of cherished lands is directly ahead. (p. 70)” This is the beginning of the paragraph that continues with the arithmetical logic that if more people are coming to visit the hinterlands, more people need to pack out their Number Twos, otherwise we will degrade our natural spaces in an alarmingly speedy way. Now there’s a thought to encourage responsible relationships with the spaces we traverse!

To say the least, the hikes we’ve undertaken so far have certainly been welcome respite from the hectic of the city.

Wishing you all well.