Outward Bound K89 1978 Keremeos, B.C.

I’ve written about this magic before, so I won’t use words, but to say that recently I took some old slides to be converted digitally. They really didn’t process well…so much dust, scratches and such, but I am excited to have an archive of these. The summer of 1978. In April of 1979, I would be holding my first born in my arms. What a journey!

Training phase, in camp, involved rope obstacles, wall climbing, jumping pillars, 6 a.m. swims, running through arid cactus-riddled landscape.

Busing to locations for skill delivery/practice like advanced river crossings, rock climbing and mountain rescue as well as first aid…

I don’t have a single photo archived as it relates to three days white water kayaking on the river.

First hikes and orienteering sessions, mountaineering, minimalist camping/food preparation in preparation for our 11 days, without instructors…

Could this have been Apex? I wish that I had kept journals of actual locations and such…instead, I remember I wrote a lot about my internal landscape instead.

Out on our own, followed by three day solo.

Ladyslipper Lake in the depths of Cathedral Provincial park.

I caught a fish in this lake and we cooked it for dinner on one of our makeshift hibachis. I remember how flavourful it was after multiple days out on the trail, with no fresh food. We sheltered under sheets of plastic, light weight and quick install, sometimes the entire group of us laying on top of ground sheets.

Three days solo…left in a spot on our own with our sheet of plastic, a journal, a sleeping bag…three lemon candies.

This is Liz, our advanced instructor and a very accomplished mountain climber. Since 1978, I’ve wanted to reconnect with her, but didn’t know her last name. Sad, I know, but true.

This is a photo, along with one or two others, that someone in my group shared with me. I never had any other contact with my group members after the course, and I have no idea where my record of contact went after the program. Pregnant, shortly after Outward Bound, trust me, I had bigger fish to fry.

I’ve recently located an Alumni group and I’m looking to reconnect with the other nine people from across Canada who shared this experience with me. That was the motivation for having my strangely formatted slide film digitalized. My apologies for the excruciating condition…the dust. I’m just so happy to have the images collected and presented in one place, with only one image missing…we’ll see if it surfaces.

Ptarmigan Cirque 2020

Around noon, Cathy, Anne and I hiked up to Ptarmigan Cirque, one of the most magical landscape bowls that I’ve come across.  A scenic drive from Longview, I feel myself unwind every time I have the opportunity to do this.

A little earlier in the season, I was gobsmacked by the multitude of Glacier Lilies that were in full bloom, as well as White-flowering Mountain Avens (Dryas hookeriana).  These made the hike today really special.

Be warned, the trails this summer, are heavily traveled compared to any other year.  On one hand, it excites me that so many people, with their children, are getting out to see the wonders that Alberta/B.C. offer.  On the other hand, sometimes I worry about preparedness as I see little children heading up in little sandals and no jackets. (The wind up at the top was cold and pretty powerful today.  I guess everyone learns their lessons in their own time, so, I’m leaving these thoughts as mere observations.

The air was so intoxicating.  It was cool and fragrant.

Conversation was easy among friends.  I loved sharing the trail with these two.  Again, my words are going to be limited, here, but I am excited to share a little bit of what we experienced today in photographs.  Anne and Cathy, I love you, dear friends.

I hold nature and wilderness in deepest regard.  Such joy…I’ve not found anywhere else.

 

 

Many Springs 2020

I was running behind, having spent some time taking care of ‘matters of consequence’ on the home front.  Once turning in toward Westhills Starbucks, I felt the excitement, even in the pouring rain, of getting out to Many Springs and discovering our wild flowers.

We missed Wendy.  We missed Carla.  And, we missed Darlene. And, we missed Darren, too!  Oliver and Cam, glad you could join!  We shared many remembrances as we made our way from our meet-up and headed for the Bow Valley Parkway and then on to our hike.  Only one other group was out on the trail while we were there.

Everything was lush and the colours were more saturated as we wound our way past Middle Lake and on to the parking.  Only a single ‘Bear in the Area’ sign, so nothing to be concerned about.

I don’t think we saw as many orchids as usual, but we certainly saw many more wild Tiger Lilies.

IT POURED….especially as we made it back to our cars.  Thank you, Val and Cathy for sharing this time.  It almost feels sacred.

When the ladies send me their shots, will publish them here…photo credit: Val Vine and Cathy Szata.

Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area

A beautiful little mid-day hike at Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area nicely preceded yet another afternoon rainstorm.  Thank you, Val, Oliver and Cathy.  It was a beautiful exploration of fescue, aspens, wild flowers, powerful skies, butterflies and conversation.

We started off with a little visit inside of the tipi.

Photo Credit: Kath and Oliver taken by Val Vine

Off to the open spaces…heading for Mountain views through the natural grasses.  The wild Lupines were electric blue.

Photo Credit: Close Ups of Lupines by Cathy Szata

Then through the Aspen Grove we went.  Butterflies and more wild flowers and Oliver hiding in the tall grass.

Photo Credit for the next three images: Cathy Szata  I really do appreciate getting into the photographs somehow, Cath.  Thank you.


Diamond T and Pick Up the Park!

It was a busy day.  It began with flowers in my own garden…

Oriental Poppy

Columbine

Orchid Frost Lamium

Peony

…and expanded to include a whole number of beautiful wild flowers.  As I type, I am thinking about the special friends who also shared this day with me.  I am so grateful!

We had a meet up at Station Flats to do the Diamond T hike, a good early conditioning hike.  Val, Cathy, Oliver and I were an eager little group.  The link provided is a 2016 map, but will be helpful if you want to know where to pull off for the trail head.

Cathy retires this year, so a little Naked Grape Blue was served at our picnic spot.

Mountain Shooting Star

 

Red Paintbrush, Orobanchacea.

Arnica, Arnica cordifolia

Purple Virgin’s Bower, Clematis verticellis

Raising the glass in celebration of Cathy’s amazing career as a teacher.  She has impacted so many people along the way.  She has a stunningly huge heart and I am blessed to call her ‘friend’.

Oliver is waving at the bottom of a very very long hill.

Canada Violets  (I LOVE THESE!)

Wild Geranium or ‘Sticky Geranium’

Canada Anemone, Anemone canadensis

I had a two p.m. meet up with the ladies at Bankside in Fish Creek Park for their annual litter pick up.  I knew I was going to be late by a bit, so sent a message to one of my sister-friends and ended up connecting without very much hassle.  I had fun sharing conversation, weather, but not much litter at all along this particular walk.  My friends are the very best for being open to fun and good times.

While we didn’t verbally acknowledge it, this day, my friend Ramona’s birthday, was a perfect celebration of the Summer Solstice.

Ox Eye Daisy

While the sky was threatening and the air very humid, I was grateful that the weather held and we made our way back to our cars.  It was magical to see a lovely bride and her wedding party making their way to the river’s edge and I’m glad that they had only the mosquitoes to contend with, but no lightening.

Happy Summer Solstice to all of my readers.

Wonder and Awe

Yesterday morning, at the edge of the Bow River, I met the new female Bald Eagle. I’ve been observing for the same nest for six years. I’m uncertain, still, about what happened to Mrs., the older female that had raised several young successfully over the years. She was a powerful bird, but last year, was looking a little haggard. From what I’ve read, she would have been either killed or pushed out of the territory by a younger female eagle. It is the way of youth and age.

This photo archives the last evening that I observed Mr. and Mrs. together at the Bow. The female is always slightly larger in breadth than the male. She is sitting on the left.

The photo, below, is from one of the last series I took of our Mrs., this after a series that showed that likely she had an injury to the talons on her left leg.

A young four/five year old appeared out of nowhere soon after, replacing Mom, in her amazing efforts to raise and feed the newly fledged juveniles. I took to calling her ‘the huntress’ because she had such a remarkable speed and was so generous in providing food for the two juveniles. I never captured a clear photograph of her with my Canon Powershot, but will see if I can’t get permission to post a friend’s photograph later.

The juveniles, now a year old, if they have managed through the winter, are now called Immature Eagles. They show slight mottling of the brown feathers and a little bit of yellow coming into their steely blue-grey beaks. I think that only one remains, but not really certain because after six weeks with the adults, they are pushed out of the hunting territory and forced to hunt on their own. I’ve made several sightings this winter of an Immature Eagle and also a two year old that is likely the one surviving fledge from the 2018 nest. Only 2% of Bald Eagles make it through their first winter.

A huge cold snap locked Calgary into -40 temperatures (with wind chill) for over a week and during that time, the huntress disappeared, although I made several sightings of Mr.

Then, something curious happened. Several of the Bow River birders and photographers were posting photographs of a new raptor, easily identifiable by her beautiful streamlined head and beak. My first observation of her was at a great distance above the river, looking down at her feeding on a deer carcass with an Immature eagle.

And now…I arrive at the ‘wonder and awe’ theme. Yesterday morning, I arrived at the river’s edge while the weather was still a melt. The wind blew ferociously the night before and melting snow puddled the banks and the pathways. I spotted her immediately and archived several amazing moments as this beautiful new female brought two large branches to build up railings at the nest. Shortly after, she and Mr. began to hunt together, soaring in circles, flying south, then returning to me until finally, she landed in a branch on my side of the river and with a good view of hundreds of Common Goldeneyes that were gathered too close for their own good.

My mouth dropped and I quickly started snapping photos. Three times, she left and returned, each time swooping low above the alarmed birds and then returning. This new female Bald Eagle is incredible and it will be a fantastic year, watching any nesting outcomes. Clearly younger, she is sleek looking and is very powerful.

Crows Fly Over Main Street

My daughter spent quite some time living in Vancouver.  For some reason I always put up a bit of a wall when the possibility of traveling there was considered.  I’ve had a friend living there for decades.  And then, Bobbie moved there.  But, I always felt some fears around its density, compactness or some unnamed unknown.  A drunk person poured an entire glass of beer down my back at a Dave Matthew’s concert in Rogers Arena one night, years ago, and the same night, I stayed in an Otto Rogers themed room. That sums up my experience of Vancouver, until recently.

On the afternoon and evening of August 20, 2019, I had opportunity to walk and see a touch of what my daughter experienced.  While I never did get to the water’s edge, I did walk a stretch of Main Street and visited one of her work places, a shop called, Front and Co.  I’ve snapped a few photographs of places along the way.  One has to admit that the vegetation is lush in Vancouver and varied.  I tried to capture that as well.

In the evening, we gathered to feast and to toast Bob.  One beautiful friend of the family delivered ‘Bob Likes Thai Food’ for dinner and another brought flowers and wine.  As we sat, sharing stories, a huge murder of  crows flew over our heads…a movement that is repeated each evening, like clockwork, over the house.  I was overcome with the magic of this, the sounds of it and will never forget it.

When it was pitch black, we walked and talked our way to the neighbouring cemetery.  There, we opened up a blanket and sat down, overlooking the lights of Vancouver.  We talked until the early hours of morning about absolutely everything, but mostly Bob.

I snapped a photograph of sculpture in the Vancouver air terminal before leaving.

I’ve recently had another dear friend move to Vancouver.  I have family in Comox.  Vancouver, I’ll be back!

Bergen Rocks and soooo Much More!

Yesterday saw us traveling north on Highway 2 to do a bit of an exploration of Olds, Alberta.  Both Pat and I had heard a CBC radio interview about the Highway 27 Sculpture Pathway and both wanted to see it.  Cayley just came along for the ride.  What a beautiful day!!

It seemed that we sailed there…when sister-friends are together, conversation seems to carry them and quickly!  A short jaunt on a sunny summer day, Calgarians can be in Olds in an hour tops.

There was a lovely walkway, edged with beautiful landscaping.  All three of us agreed that at some point the city will have to relax the parking restrictions on at least one side of the blvd that edges the park.   Pat parked her car, with permission, in front of a very welcoming real estate office on the 27. We enjoyed our casual engagement with the sculpture, as well as sharing a personal critique of the sculptures.  Read about the beginnings of this vision here.

From the sculpture garden, we began our exploration of Olds, first looking at the residential areas and then locating the amenities, including churches, sporting facilities and other venues of interest.  We started off at Centennial Park.

Noteworthy, I thought, was the Horseshoe Pitch.

The Centennial Park offered a splash park (presently closed), a series of historical plaques informing us of the relevance of various buildings, early settlers and businesses.

I was very enthusiastic about the building facades…

A particularly interesting venue was Pandora’s Boox, providing for opportunities to game, read and drink nice teas and coffee.  Housed in a 1910 Bank building, this space had great charm and seemed to be a bit of a hub.

 

I also absolutely loved this little shop…a real community self care spot.  I was grateful for the tour offered up by the proprietor.  Awesome, Olds Town Square.

By the time we located and explored the large number of churches and saw the various parts of the town, it was time to eat and we decided to try out the Mad Greeks.

Nummers!  Good choice!  Cayley and I enjoyed a regular meat Donair, combined with a Greek Salad at 11.00.  Pat enjoyed a massive Caesar Salad with a side of Garlic Toast, followed by a very light cheese cake.  Fresh food produced by a lovely couple.

From lunch, well, we met up with City TV, of course!  Ranked last by Macleans???  Mountain View County???  Are you kidding???

Small town Albertans react to list saying they live in Canada’s worst community

This little interview was followed by a bit more of a shop wander and then off we were to discover Olds College and their Botonical gardens.  Amazing stuff, people!

This is a destination that every Albertan would enjoy!  I felt like yesterday was a really relaxing day and that I had the opportunity to see new things.  We followed our walk at Olds College with an icy cold lemonade from Tim Horton’s and east and south we headed.  Thank you, Pat!  Another great adventure!

 

A Road Trip to Blackfoot Crossing

Hollee drove down last evening so that we could head out early for a road trip to Blackfoot Crossing.  Recently, she was able to view Elder in the Making, a movie that I have not yet seen.  This movie really impacted her and Hollee asked if I would be up to a road trip to this beautiful place, a place where we are all reminded of our obligation to be treaty people.  I love Blackfoot Crossing and if my readers have not yet journeyed there, please do.  Episode 1.

Early this morning, I went out in bedroom slippers and fed the birds. (The sparrows are all raising their young and they congregate each morning, just like the wee pigs that they are. Oh my.  They are messy!) There in the back gardens, I found my first Oriental Poppy blooming and my first open Peony.  I love the lush green surrounding these highly saturated blossoms and thought about the next bush painting that is already living inside my head.

There was no shortage of conversation as we took 22X and steered ourselves east.  There was a powerful sky and a big whoosh of wind as various systems of weather were moving through the province.  We stopped at the landmark for Blackfoot Crossing shortly after Hollee noticed the graveyard from the road.  I felt determined to find Jordan’s resting place.  The wind was so strong and carried a bit of a bite.  The two of us took in the remarkable vistas.  It was an awesome first glance of the panoramic view of the valley and treaty lands.

Next, we visited Chief Crowfoot’s last camping place.

We enjoyed the brilliant colour of wild flowers throughout our times wandering.  So beautiful.

Next…Chief Crowfoot’s resting place.  If my readers haven’t read his biography as yet, I recommend Crowfoot: Chief of the Blackfoot by Hugh Dempsey.  A powerful book!

Bernard couldn’t meet up with us, but said he would include me in his smudge today.  He is such a beautiful person.  I was determined to find the place where Jordan, his son, rests and today, I found him…was able to take pause and pray.  I am grateful that Jordan’s life and mine intersected.  I treasured Jordan in his youth.  Today, I was able to remember.  The next time I travel to the crossing, I will bring a special gift that reflects that relationship and I will place it on his grave.

Wild Anemone

We had a magic-filled walk and went to the site where the museum has documented an earthen village. However, the archaeologists that were working on site today walked us through some of the more current discoveries and that was super exciting.

Wild Anemone

Wild Rhubarb?

Blue Flax

Lightning Strike

Mushroom burgers and homemade fries were enjoyed at Pete’s Bakery in Cluny.  We ended up giving Morris a ride into Strathmore after that.  He showed us a buffalo jump.  He showed us Hammer Hill.  He told us about making head dresses and about his early sketching as a young boy.  He showed us his high school.  It was lovely.

Peter’s daughter told us the story of her father.  She was such a beautiful person.  I so wish that I had asked her her name.  Eat at Peter’s Bakery in Cluny!  So good!!

I’m grateful for this day.  I’m grateful for what nature teaches us.

Safe and sound and rested, at home, Hollee headed north on the highway and Max and I went to the river.  My day began with flowers and ended with birds…and all else, made for a beautiful middle.

What is Essential

… is invisible to the eye. Both scriptural and found in the eloquent pages written by Antoine de St. Exupery, these words resonate with me on this seeming ordinary April day.

As the world’s citizens gasped in horror while the spire of Notre-Dame Cathedral fell to the ravages of fire, I not only grieved the loss/damage to such an iconic structure, but I immediately connected with my own memory and what the sense of place meant to me and my own family. I can not possibly know all of what Notre-Dame has meant over history, nor can I know the myriad of treasured moments shared there by other people just like me, from all over the world.

Instead, I think of my own three children and my, at-the-time, soon-to-be son-in-law. I think of the utter joy at the early morning surprise of a plane ticket from London to Paris, a subway ride into the core from the airpoirt and the magical events that unfolded, all of them shared as family.

Over the past ten years, if one runs just a few searches on the internet, one will find out how many of civilization’s greatest monuments have fallen, destroyed in natural catastrophes or through the mindless and hateful ravages of war. The destruction of the most cherished landmarks in human history shatters us, somehow, to the core. These are places captured in the minds and imaginations of all of us, places written about and found in movies, settings that we assume will always remain stable and present in those same imaginations.

I think we need to think about the fragility/the ephemera of our lives and our planet. This morning, again, I reflect upon what is essential. I’m hoping that through the damage done to such a seemingly permanent icon as Notre-Dame Cathedral, our human family might combine their efforts in creating a better world. Let us take pause and go into this day, empowered to make a difference.