I am blessed to my deepest core by my children. Their lives are rooted in mine and as the years fly by, I have a sense of such wonder about just how awesome they are! I have parented on my own for the most-part and as such, there have been times when, out of the exhausted run-through-your-life-stuff, I have wondered how different it would have been with a partner.
However, once again I have felt tremendous affirmation in the parent I have been ‘solely’…and just what a remarkable life my children and I have shared. We have enjoyed almost two weeks with a visit from my oldest daughter and as I sit here weeping for love of her…I can only celebrate how great this love is!
She and I headed out for Jasper on Friday morning. I was so excited to be sharing my special spot, Angel Glacier, located below the Edith Cavell Rustic Hostel. We packed up our egg salad bunwiches and yummy juice…our cooler full of groceries, sleeping bags and hiking boots and were off with our favourite music and many unshared stories…bonded by so many memories of our history together!
The scenery was exquisite…the drive magical (stories to be told about the drive…tee hee)…little stops for photos and snacks…giggles and enthusiasm…comfortable silence.
At the park gate…I was shocked!! A confirmation of my reservation at Edith Cavell turned out to be a problem…in fact, I had never visited my favourite spot in the springtime! The 27 kilometer ride (rough road) up to the hostel (no running water…no electricity) would not be open until June 15…..sigh! Gee! Rats!! Barricades!
We headed over to swap our lodging for a hostel at Whistlers Mountain….pretty much chose our beds….and then I just sat on the edge of the bunk and sighed. I just could NOT stay in such a civilized and large place. I explained to daughter #1 that this, in fact, would not do what I needed to do/share with her. We signed out….and I announced that we would head south 30 kms. and go to the Athabasca Falls Hostel…a spot that offered us a more backwoods experience…intimate…quiet…a retreat.
When we settled, I was ecstatic and certain that we could formulate plans that would make for a variety of experiences. We unpacked and together, we cooked our first gourmet feast. Choosing wedding reception wines can be a very good thing…so each evening away we sipped and shared light and wonderful conversation. That night we shared the hostel with two men biking Jasper to Lake Louise, one of their partners and two gents motor-biking from Boulder, Colorado. Relative to other nights at Hostels, this was a quiet one…a good first night.
We played ping pong (is there a hyphen there?) and read up instructions for a game of cribbage. We both remembered playing this game again and again as younger people…but hadn’t attempted it in years. Fun!
The next day we shared our light breakfast of croissants, mixed fruit and cinnamon porridge, keeping in mind that we would buy lunch in Jasper before heading out to Maligne Canyon. Coffee tasted even better than usual! There was a feeling of contentment and relaxation in the air.
We walked the Athabasca Falls loop before carrying on into the town of Jasper. The falls were brilliant in the morning light…what magic was shared between the two of us…mother and daughter!
In town, we limited tourist shops to four and then chose a lunch-special at a lovely restaurant….reuben sandwich and homemade mushroom soup….7.50. I ordered a coffee…Rocky Mountain Roast. Yum!
As I sat down in this elegant place (hard to tell, given the special price!!)….I pulled up my chair and then sat gazing directly beyond my daughter to the feature wall. There, hanging across from me, was one of the large paintings I did of Takkakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park! I squeeled! We took out the camera and took some pictures, while the guests/waitress took in the entire moment!
We visited the gallery that represents my work in the Jasper Lodge…enjoyed connecting with the young man in the gallery and spent some time looking at the art there. After minimal ‘business’, we then headed for the lake.
From there, we headed through the Maligne Canyon…a gorgeous drive! Along the way, I spotted a female black bear and her cubs…we pulled over, on our own and watched her/ them….the cubs ran back into the woods and mama continued to feast on her roadside yummies, unconcerned about us. We moved on, out of the more wooded area and onto the roadway that skirts the jagged SLAB of mountain and falls abruptly into Medicine Lake.
I spotted the dark form of another ‘critter’ out on the flat plane to the west of the embankment. On the rounded curve, a few people stood, binoculars to their eyes. I pulled over and as I did, the male bald eagle lifted off…white tail feathers and head, brilliant in the sunlight. He flew directly over us, circling. I couldn’t believe our good fortune because I have a real ‘thing’ about siting bald eagles. As we watched, his mate lifted off out of the forest just east of us. Tight in her talons was some sort of small prey?? And then, most beautiful of all, was the soft chatter that then happened between the two as they circled again and again. I was struck with such emotion as I watched them. My daughter, thinking, captured a quick photo of the two of them from a distance.
Just two miles from Maligne Lake, we viewed our second female black bear and her two cubs. The cubs climbed trees quickly as mama watched things very very carefully. With only moments to think, we were able to capture a few quick photos.
What were the chances of seeing two mamas on a single day?
At the lake, we went for a short walk…took in the air (and the bugs) and the marvelous views. We were quite overcome by being so close to nature and such a part of things. A cherry turnover and hot chocolate took off the wee chill left from the early spring weather.
We reported the bear sitings at the Canadian Parks location at Maligne….and I’m sorry to say that by the time we were making our return journey home, mama #2 was isolated on the opposite side of the road from her cubs and a group of irresponsible citizens were out of their vehicles snapping photos, all the while she was obviously upset. One of the rangers told us that earlier in the day a bear had been hit by a fast-traveling vehicle on the west side of the park. This sort of thing saddens both my daughter and myself and we quickly moved through the traffic, feeling very sad for the mama and her babes. Eventually it will be the bear that will be relocated or even worse, put down as a result of such encounters.
Evening included a meal of spanish rice, marinaded chicken breasts, spring salad and a lovely new world wine. Shortly after, two large groups joined us and so we headed for the fire pit outside. Much fun was had with photo opportunities and we enjoyed an evening of writing, reading and relaxing. The group included travelers from Australia, Germany, China, New Zealand….and the two gents from Boulder were settled in for a second night after a day of their local adventures.
Early morning…and a breakfast apart from the large group. Up we hiked through protected forest area to a view of the surrounding mountains. We both experimented with close-up photography and relished our last remaining outdoors experience of the weekend.
Checkout and quiet conversation with the lady who stays at the hostel year-round…a final clean-up after bacon, eggs and hashbrowns, posing on a BMW….and off we went. My latest photo album captures just some of the images from our magical/mystical/memorable experience. I love my daughter…and wish her godspeed on her flight this evening back to her fiance in London, England.