Friday, July 14, 2006

wild things: from all sides

So how many wild things do you really see out there in the Canadian Rockies? Marmots, okay, but how about something larger?

I can deliver larger. Just north of Jasper I came head to butt with an elk. Luckily he was more interested in leaf munching than in charging. Me, I was fearless: I took a photo the requisite three bus lengths away (the law so states). [I was also, at the time, close to the car in case said elk decided not to like me.]

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Also on this day I passed by this lovely scene: a mountain sheep keeping tabs on things from her (his?) perch up here:

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And after my hike I nearly bumped into these guys. They were so close that I wanted to shout out – hey, keep three bus lengths away or I’ll get ticketed!

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Ed was less impressed with the above. He claims he can see deer any time he wants to from his sheep shed outside of Madison. Ho hum. I happen to have visited his little farm a number of times and I have never seen deer anywhere near it. Besides, do we even know if this is a deer rather than a baby elk?

I definitely thought Ed should have been more impressed with the long-horn sheep, given his own sheep abode, but he hrumphed at that as well and suggested that maybe it wasn’t real. Ed, cameras don't lie. Besides, a few paces further, we encountered these:

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I’m thinking Ed was just being contrary, due to the fact that he was quite sick yesterday, tough hiker that he is. Me, I’m fine. Ed, on the other hand, basically slept the day away.

Not that he didn’t try to get himself moving. It was obvious to me that it was a no go for him, but there he was with his hiking manual insisting that he was up for a two hour straight up climb to the summit of Sulphur Mountain. I nodded benevolently and said things like sure and fine knowing damn well that two steps into the hike he’d collapse.

Two steps into the hike he collapsed. You go on, he tells me, I’ll just go back and sleep in the car.

So what would a decent human being do?

Obviously any good soul would say – oh no, I’ll not hike either then. I’ll come back to the car with you and watch you sleep.

But I rationalized heading out without him thus: obviously he would fee so guilty and sad if I gave up this late afternoon little climb. Feeling guilty and sad would not help him mend. Therefore, ever so reluctantly I patted him on the shoulder, reminded him where the car was and resumed my climb.

The views were fantastic: a 360 degree panorama of mountains and vales.

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blue flowers, blue mountains

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yellow flowers

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Of course, that 360 degree panorama meant that the wind came at you from every possible direction. My nifty blue windbreaker, setting off a carefully selected bright yellow day pack was much appreciated. Luckily, one other hiker made it to the Sulphur Summit at the same time and so I could ask him to document the blue and yellow combination for posterity.

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Guilt caught up with me up there on the mountaintop and so I basically ran down to attend to the ill one. I am good at fast descents. Ed says I scream down mountain trails. I like the image of a silent screamer.

We drove back to Jasper (on a slowly leaking tire, but neither of us wants to take the time to fix it; we simply pull into gas stations and pump it up every 100 kms or so) and I displayed my most angelic side: I volunteered to microwave organic chicken broth for the sick one. With water crackers for an extra special treat.

Then I went out and forced myself to eat at a place in Jasper that served excellent spicy shrimp with warm corn and tomatoes. With a small jug of Canadian wine.

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