Monday, August 29, 2011


I had a rotten day so I thought I would try channelling Dorothy.

Close eyes.

Click heels together.

Repeat, "There's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home."

Open eyes.


It didn't work.

Maybe it was the shoes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Very Different Place

My boys are starting the new school year tomorrow. For the first time in 5 years we are in a new place with a new school. I like it.

I like that I don't know any of the teachers. I don't know which teachers go out and regularly get drunk at the bar. I don't know which teachers can add and which ones can't.

I also really like that the teachers don't know my kids. They did not talk to their teachers from last year so they don't know what someone else's preconceived notion is.

They will get to find out for themselves that J is smart in a "think outside of the box sort of way". They will get to find out for himself that he is a veritable encyclopedia of animal facts. They will get to discover that here is a child - and a boy even - who reads because he truly loves to.

They will soon understand the everyone loves M. I mean everyone. His genius is in finding a way to make people like him. They will find out that, because of this, he can also be incredibly lazy. Why should you do the work if you can smile and get someone else to do it for you?

I also really like that they have a natural foods chef on staff who makes all school lunches out of locally sourced organic food. SCORE! They were part of the "Food Revolution" before it became popular.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Rummel Lake

O.K. so we went on another awesome hike. We ate lunch at another beautiful lake. We did 6 miles yesterday and aren't even tired. Our new gear is awesome ... but who cares?

We saw a MOOSE!!!

Well, all right. The rest of the hike was worth posting about. Rummel Lake is hike number 18 in WLH. The guidebook was right in saying the trip is worthwhile and was, as promised, "a little-known, easy-to-reach, scenic destination that's likely to afford solitude." However, the guidebook was wrong, wrong, wrong about the distance. It was not 8.6 km (5.3 mi) as promised. It was much closer to 10 km (6 mi). Not a big difference; but, until we figured it out, we thought we were going very slow.

The view while hiking was pretty breath-taking. Are you tired of mountain vistas yet?

Or quiet lakeside views?

How about cascades?

I'm not either.

Lessons learned:

The Steripen works. C dropped and emptied a full bottle of water at lunch, so we just filled it up with fresh lake water, sterilized it and enjoyed. No one got sick. What this could do for Africa!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Where Does All the Money Go?

All the money goes here. This is the Mountain Equipment Company store in Calgary (think REI on steroids). We visit at least once a week. So far, we have bought 3 backpacks, 2 cans of bear spray, a steripen water purifier, 6 Nalgene bottles, 9 maps, 2 guidebooks, 3 pairs of lightweight nylon pants, a first aid kit and 3 shirts. There could be more, but I just don't remember. Hiking itself is not expensive. Going to MEC is.

Do you want to know what they don't sell at MEC? A helmet big enough to fit C's head. I gues a 7 5/8 hat size is not that common in Calgary.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Elk Lakes

I was utterly exhausted. But at least now I know my limit. Nine miles.

Nine miles is the new limit for our family. We did 10.2 Saturday, and we are really tired. Still. J and M were troopers and made it with VERY little complaining, but !0.2 miles was one mile to far.

I have to say, however, that it was worth it.

This weekend we hiked Elk Lakes, hike number 26 in WLH. It was a 16.4 km (10.2 mi) easy round trip with 1068 feet in total elevation. The guidebook describes an "inauspicious start" through an old road in a viewless forest. I felt a little sorry for those that can't appreciate what I saw.

The viewless forest trail offered glimpses of distant mountains, flowing streams, and a mulitutde of wildflowers. We couldn't look up and out, so we looked down and around. Reminds me of the old saying, "You can't see the forest for the trees." For a flatlander who used to live in a swamp, the cool and quiet of the forest was beautiful.

The temperature when we left the car - 46 degrees.

Even better, for the first time since we have been in Canada, we hiked for miles and did not see a soul. There was nobody on the trail until just before we reached our destination.

Arriving at Upper Elk Lake, we sat at the edge of the blue-green water and the only sounds we could hear were the sounds we made ourselves and the sounds of the waterfall cascading into the lake on the other side.

Apologies for the photos. I left the big Nikon D90 in the car because it is SO heavy and I knew we were going farther than usual. I carried our pocket Canon with an almost dead battery instead. I could have taken hundreds of photos; but, because of the battery issue, all I really got was this view from our chosen lunch location:

That is Castelneau Glacier in the middle left of the picture. Even dry peanut-butter and jelly tastes good with a view like this.

And this from the beginning of the hike back to the trailhead:

Yes, we did cross that rock slide. Yes, I was very glad I had on hiking boots. They saved my ankles a number of times on this trip.

Lessons learned:

Elevation is elevation. I thought this would be easier because the trail gains 600 feet and then loses 400. Then you just have to regain the 400 before you get to go back down the 600. Having the elevation broken up is a little easier, but not significantly.

People are truly surprised to see M on the trail. He is a little small for his 8 years, so I assume they think he is younger than he is. His stride is shorter so he has to take more steps than the rest of us and his feet tire out faster, but he just goes. Maybe he didn't complain today because he knew NOONE was going to carry him to the car.

Good gear matters. J, M and I all got new packs this week. I love my new pack. The pack itself is about 3 pounds lighter and it fits. Correctly. It was so comfortable that it changed the way I hike. The weight was transferred to my hips instead of my shoulders and I was less fatigued than I would have been with my old pack. Still fatigued, but less so.

Take more water. We ran out at mile 9. Better than running out at mile 7, but still not good

On another note. A sorority sister of mine completed the Leadville 100 bike challenge yesterday in a little over 11 hours. Makes a 10 mile hike look a little weak. Congrats!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Another Texan?

For the first time in years I am excited about politics.

I liked both of the Bush Presidents. I worked for the first.

But I wasn't excited.

I like McCain just fine.

But even when I cast my vote for him, I didn't' think he could win.

I was lukewarm about Romney.

He hasn't even announced, and Rick Perry may have the Republican nomination in the bag.

And the General election?

What if he were to ask Marco Rubio to run with him?

And I am in Canada.

Do you think a "Rick Perry for President" yard sign would look out of place in the snow?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Plain of Six Glaciers

Weekends we hike.

O.K. We have only been here two weekends, but we have hiked both. So I feel very comfortable making that statement.

I could live here a long time if all we had to do was hike.

Our second hike in Canada may have been even more spectacular than the first, and the first one was pretty amazing.

For our second weekend WE chose Plain of Six Glaciers in Lake Louise. I have to say, the old me (the me from the years before I met C and had kids) would have been more interested in the the 4-star Chateau Lake Louise than a silly old hike.

The new me didn't even go in the Chateau. The new me just walked around the outside of the Chateau. The new me didn't even think about going in. I was too busy looking up. At this:

See the glacier in the middle of the photo. That is Lower Victoria Glacier and our destination. Plain of Six Glaciers, Hike 118 in DWYT was a 11.2 km (6.9 mi) roundtrip trail with 339 m (1112 ft) of elevation gain. With a bonus. Because once you drag yourself through the gray morning and wait for the sun to burn the chill out of the air, you can have lunch here:

We are planners right, so we brought lunch. But we wasted our food and threw it away when we got home. Instead we had homemade soup and bread at the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse. Big think slices of homemade bread. And apple pie. The best apple pie in the world. I think elevation and fresh air make everything taste better. And we decided to go back. This year.

And on the way down, you can see the Chateau. But you aren't really looking at it. It pales in comparison to the world around it.

Lessons learned:

Go early. We passed three times as many people on the way down.

Dress in layers.

Carry bear spray. We didn't need it, but it felt nice to have.