First: it was a crazy, busy (but controlled) domestic day. Simon has been out since first thing this morning, painting batts, putting them on the house, cutting the window and door trim, putting it up, getting the rest of our fencing – and goddess knows what else. He’s been a demon of productivity. It makes my contribution look small – but hey – I did what needed to be done: four loads of laundry, cleaning, vacuuming the house and RV, baking bread, shopping and lastly, the most fun part of the day: weeding and watering the garden. Oh yes – also foot care. I’m hiking again tomorrow and my feet took a beating this weekend.

So – feet are my first reflection of the day. I love my La Sportivas. Unfortunately, the more I wear them, the more they hurt my feet. Two things (I think). First, they are just a tiny bit too big. Maybe half or even quarter size. That allows my feet to move in them just enough to create hot spots and soreness, especially on the downhill. I did serious foot care this afternoon. I thought a lot about hiking footwear. And so I should. Given the amount of walking I do and my experience with boots, this is important. No other item of gear comes even close in importance to great footwear.

I’ve had it all: Raichles were my preferred boot when I first discovered hiking at age 30. They were great but at the same time, not perfect. I went through boots and then was convinced to try lightweight shoes. They had their upsides: soft, gentle, good to my feet – but they fell apart quickly, were never waterproof and thin soles hurt my feet.

So I went back to boots. My Lowas were probably the most comfortable boots I have ever owned but they fell apart in 18 months. Then I tried Meindls – awesome but over time, not as comfy as the Lowas and they too, after two years, seem to be ending their lifespan. La Sportivas are built like nothing I have seen before but perhaps they are a bit too heavy and stiff for my feet.

So the question is, now what? I am inclined to try Lowas again – and anything else I can find that I have not tried before. Foot comfort is everything. I am open to seeing what is out there that will work with my feet.

Whew! Who would have thought that my feet would occupy so much space and time in a blog?

Other reflections: a growing sense of well-being that is taking me a bit by surprise. I don’t know where it’s coming from. I suspect I am beginning to find a space where my life is making sense again. It’s early days – just the beginnings. But I think it has a good deal to do with leaving the past behind, turning the page, living in the present and being open to a very different future. Not to mention that the glimmerings of the future I see are looking intriguing.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Evans Creek/Beatrice Lake

It’s a challenge to pick a handful of photos for the blog when you shot 98 in three days. But, for better or worse, here’s a smattering – and a brief epistle of sorts.

We left Friday evening and hiked into Evans Creek in three hours – pretty darn good going, especially considering it was the first full multi-day pack hike of the season. More especially, good going for Simon who hasn’t been doing as much hiking as I have and who had to shoulder a good deal more weight than me. i.e. – he carried the tent and most of the food.

We got set up well before dark, had our meals and hit the sleeping bags early: big day on Saturday.

As an aside, the weather deities played very nice indeed (indeity?). Woke up at 6 and on the trail at 7 a.m. I had no idea what to expect. Simon has been eying the valley leading up to Beatrice for months. Now, finally, we would get a chance to see what lay there.

First, was a scraggly forest. Then, 1.5 hours after setting out, we made it to Emerald Lake, which was quite pretty. Then on to Cahill Lake and then onwards and most definitely upwards. A good deal of the trail took us beside rushing Evans Creek – seriously roaring with the late spring runoff. Three times we cross the creek on well-maintained bridges. In fact, the entire trail is user-friendly to the max.

What I didn’t expect were the two little unnamed lakes we passed along the way – by far the prettiest of the entire trip. As we got higher, the flora changed and we were graced with old growth trees. Finally, just before noon, we made it to Beatrice Lake, which was, honestly, anti-climactic. If the merit of a hike is the effort to payoff ratio, this one was a lot of effort for a payoff that at its best was, “Well okay – that’s nice.”

It was dark and due to logjams – no beach. Also, we were still very far from any kind of alpine. But it was always billed as a shoulder season hike and it allowed up to get out and that was fine. We saw tons of pretty flowers and back at camp (9.5 hours later) I was wing-kissed by a waxwing. And then we admired an entire flock of them in the trees around our tent. Awesome!

We called it an early night and hiked out again in the morning, leaving at about 7.15 a.m. We took more time going back – 3.5 hours or so. I took more photos because that side of the lake is all about morning light.

The best part of the entire expedition was spending all that time with Simon, giggling with him and just enjoying his love of nature which so closely resembles mine. I could have done without the stinkiness on the morning of day 3 but I don’t think I should complain, considering I was a tad ripe myself.

Loved picking up the puppies and seeing their joy at knowing they had not been abandoned. I even shared a bit of my sandwich with her when we had lunch at Sleep is for Sissies.

Our milk jug watering system seems to have worked really well.

Ready for the next one.

The season has just begun!

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In an hour we’re off on our first backpacking trip of the season. It’s just going to feel awfully good to get out there for a few days.

I love leaving on a trip – I love the feeling of getting away, of everything dropping behind – all responsibilities – all worries – all “news” – the entire past – poof! Gone!

One of my favourite parts of travelling in Europe has always been the packing up, going to the train station – and not even necessarily getting on the train. I love waiting for the train to arrive, knowing that soon I’d be on it – off on a new adventure!

Today, Simon and I will head into Valhalla. Nature, warmth, good company – feels wonderful!

And you wont’ hear from me again for a couple of days.

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Today I’m focused on small things. First, simply getting prepared for our first backpacking trip of the season. It’s a simple one – just in to Evans Creek, set up camp and then, the next morning, hike up to Beatrice Lake and back. Hike out again Sunday morning. There will be seven of us and given the calibre of KMC folks, I expect it to be a wonderful group.

I took the puppies on the Awesome Trail in the heat of the afternoon. So wonderful to actually feel warm after the chill of the past days – or is it weeks? Months?

I also reflected on the fragility of the human condition. I am sometimes taken by surprise – how easily I can shatter. I’m strong. This I know. I have picked up the pieces of myself and glued them back numerous times. Kintsugi – the Japanese art of gluing back together broken pottery without any attempt at hiding the crack.

I feel like a piece of that sort of pottery. Except I don’t have only one line. I am a patchwork of cracks. I have become adept at the gluing process. For a long time, however, I tried to hide those cracks – I sealed them so tightly that there were no holes at all, forgetting that this is where the light gets in.

Slowly, I am discovering that I have a love in my life who is more than willing (and able) to help me with the gluing process. This still frightens me. I am still not wholly willing to let go of the myth of solitary strength. “I can do it myself.” Surrender? Still working on it.

But it’s nice to know that as I sit here in the sun and light, listening to puppies chewing on bones out on the deck, that I can be soft – and that it’s safe.

But I’m still working on it. It’s a strong fortress I built over the years – it’s not coming down quickly – just one stone at a time.

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A Day Off

Yes, it really is a day off. That means no cleaning, no laundry – none of the “usual” chores and no hiking.

Well – no hiking doesn’t constitute a day off. I’d rather have been hiking. However, I admit that it was also nice to lie down on the couch after dinner for a nice, long nap – much longer than my usual power naps. Felt mighty good. And then, when I finally rustled up the motivation to go into the garden to check on the weed situation, it was cold (!!??) and raining.

WTF! I said to myself (loudly). It was supposed to be warm and sunny. And then I reminded myself that every “supposed to be” warm and sunny day lately has turned out cold and cloudy and I felt much better (not).

The puppies had a lovely walk on the Galena Trail today – where we bumped into Nicky and Rori. And I did manage to get almost everything we needed for out backpacking trip on Friday – except for the fact that the local VPO apparently doesn’t stock things that outdoor people might need, like water purification tabs, bug spray and electrolytes. Really?

Sigh. I think we have enough to see us through. But on my next trip to Nelson, I’ll certainly be dealing with that VPO – not this one.

Last night I had a chance to get out to dinner with some of our neighbours. I thought Coco and Paul were pretty awesome. I realized that I felt like the youngest person there. Also realized that talking about other people (gossip?) is something I don’t ever want to do – or listen to.

And this afternoon, after talking to Pam and reviving many old feelings of inadequacy and failure, I have a chance to dig deeper into me – who I am, what I’m all about, where my vulnerabilities lie – an opportunity to grow. I find that the older I get, the more I am becoming an introvert. Or perhaps, not becoming, but owning who I am. There are times when all I want to do is sit alone in an alpine meadow and stare at mountain peaks. That’s where I feel peace unlike any I can otherwise know.

I like the idea of having an impact on others in a big dramatic way. But in real life, the truth is softer, more personal – a quieter thing altogether.

I think.

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Almost Kuskanax

First – thanks to Nicky for the first photo – awesome photographer!

Second – short on words and long on pics. We are about to go out to dinner – but I HAD to upload my photos first. What a day! I haven’t seen alpine like this for so long! Who knew that the Kuskanax trail would be so sensational – or that it would catapult us into the alpine minutes after setting out. (I think the steep uphill in 4-wheel drive might have had something to do with that.)

Still, we had almost 1000 metres to go to get us to the top. It was steep – but with payoffs the entire way. In Nicky I have found my hiking soul-mate. In other words, another person who babbles incoherently when faced with mountain beauty. Ahhhh.

At any rate, up we went until we saw this towering peak off in the distance. “Well,” we thought. “Thank goodness we don’t have to go up that!”

Um – yes – we had to go up that. And we were oh so tantalizingly close. I don’t think the deep icky snow would have stopped us – it was the storm clouds that settled directly over the peak. So – a really good reason to go back.

What a day!

In the alpine! Did I mention that I love alpine? If I did, I stated it incorrectly. I adore the alpine. It is my soul home.

It was a good good good day.

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Lies the Weather Man has Told me.

Warm, sunny weather they told us. Excellent, I thought – a bit of work in the garden this morning – then a nice dog walk to Payne Bluffs. But that was two days ago. Yesterday, the weather man said, “well – maybe partly cloudy.” And what happened? It’s pouring rain! Nicky and I just managed to get home before the downpour began.

And I’m not even going to mention that yesterday was also supposed to be warm and sunny – the best Simon and I did yesterday was cloudy sun – at least that’s what I called it. Simon said it was cloudy.

Tomorrow was supposed to be clear and warm. Already, I notice an amendment to partly cloudy. Grrrr. We are going anyway. But let me just say one thing: this weekend the forecast had better hold. I do not fancy sleeping in a tent in the rain. Been there. Done that. Really don’t need to do it again.

I need to talk to the weather man (or person). They are not doing a very good job.

The good thing is that I got stuff done today. The not so good thing is that we need to replace the RV hot water tank. Sigh.

I am getting much better at expecting the unexpected. And a jolly good thing it is. If I was rotten at it, I’d be in very big trouble.

‘Scuse me – got to do my sunshine dance – appease the weather gods.

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