Elizabeth Parker Hut

This weekend, Dan and I went to the Elizabeth Parker Hut in Yoho National Park. We booked this ages ago, originally for our friends Lana and Charlie’s visit, but because of weather we had to push it back. Reasons not to go just piled on up last week: I was sick, Dan’s boss wouldn’t let him take Monday off (we had the hut booked Saturday and Sunday night), and my sister-in-law called me to tell me there might be some avalanche danger.

Avalanches be damned. We were going and I was determined.

So we packed up a medley of snacks (chips, cookies, beef jerky, fruit bars) a bottle of wine, tacos, pancakes, and headed for the mountains. Of course as soon as we hit the mountains, it was dumping snow. Our 12 k (that’s 7.5 miles to you Americans out there) looked like this:

Sometimes we’d get a glimpse of the mountains. Like here:

Honestly, the snow really didn’t bother us. I mean…look at this place! Amazing how fresh air will clear your head. The first 8 k were easy going. Dan and I were just cruising. The last 4 k were pretty much straight uphill and we both kind of wanted to die. But we didn’t die… eventually we made it here:

…and we were happy. The cabin was the coziest place on the planet as far as we were concerned. (To be clear, this is a communal cabin we were sharing with about 15 strangers.) After about an hour of being a complete puddle, the wine started flowing and we had a crazy eights game in full swing.

It was around this time that Dan and I realized we had forgotten our Cesars. For two people who pride themselves on always having enough delicious booze on hand, this was a huge blow. Such a rookie mistake.

Then the Bulgarian arrived. And his two friends: Kallil and Kelly. Kelly had pulled a chariot the entire way! You guys, this was no small feat. Like I said, Dan and I with little backpacks wanted to die. A chariot would have sealed the deal. Anyway, at first we thought there was a baby in that chariot. Everyone in cabin audibly went “Awww…” and internally went, “Why’d you bring a freakin baby to a communal hut?!” But the Bulgarian, who was wearing one of those green plastic St Patty’s Day hats wooped: “It’s full of booze! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!” The three men had brought a mini keg, two liters of wine, two bottles of vodka and a handle of rum.

When Kelly cracked his first ice cold tall boy, I could almost hear Dan start to drool. (We spent half our ski home wondering how on earth we forgot beer. Realize I’m making us sound like alcoholics between this and the cesars… but I think we’re just deep appreciators of a delicious drink at the right moment.)

Anyway, much merriment followed and the Bulgarian and two K’s kept Dan and I well lubricated once our wine ran out. There was a night ski, a thin trail of headlamps. We howled like wolves, swooshed down the trails. When you stopped, it was pure silence. Beautiful.

We woke to this:

Sometimes I’m still wondering what I’m doing here in Calgary. I don’t really feel like I belong here in a lot of ways. I wonder what my purpose is, if I’m moving forward, getting anything done, and on and on and on….

Then we get out. We wake to a blue bird day in the middle of the mountains. We make pancakes, strap on our skis and head for Lake O’Hara.

There’s no one there. Not one soul. Not a single sound.

Just us and the snow.

We’d never get to explore this landscape in the way that we will while we live here. Not in this way. I am so excited for summer, our tent, strapping our weekend on our back. But for now, winter is not half bad.

(anyone catching my feet on the beach reference here?)
One might argue that cookies and all sorts of goodies taste better in the cold.

The Kingman side of my family has a long history at Lake O’Hara. My great-grandfather loved the spot and my grandfather and mother used to come here as children. I loved imagining them here. I loved being here for the first time with my husband.

Heading home from the mountains is always bittersweet.

One wishes for a brief moment they might stay with whatever animal this is:

(as long as it’s a friendly animal.)

But there’s that sweet perspective that a weekend away brings. And the excitement to plan more adventures.

And even some excitement to get back to it. A renewed determination.

Thing is: I’d be pondering purpose and Life and all that wherever I am. May as well do it here.

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