This weekend, we journeyed to Burstall Pass and Burstall Campground. The first half is a day hike, and was well-populated.
There was fresh snow on the ground. People looked at our backpacks and raised their eyebrows. “Hope you have some warm gear in there.”
“How far away is the campground?” Dan asked me. Oh about 12 K, I think. “And what’s the elevation change?” Mmmm…yeah I forgot to check that. We take out the map. “Looks like we lose about 900 meters in 5k.” (i.e. tomorrow’s uphill is going to be brutal.) “Sky. For future trips, maybe you could check these things.”
Right. But throw a little caution to the wind and here you are:
The backside of the pass granted us our wish of solitude in the wilderness. We were exhausted when we arrived.
At first, we were all alone. (We got the best tent site.)
Then a family arrived. A couple and their teenage son.
|(We were reading when they showed up.)|
“Is anyone else here?” they asked.
“No, just us.”
“Sorry! You would’ve had it to yourselves.”
“No, no,” we said. “Welcome!” The truth is, we were relieved they showed up. We’d seen an unnervingly fresh pile of berry-filled bear scat not too far back on the trail.
The sun began to go down. Dan gathered tinder for a fire.
“Are you making a fire?!” The teenager, whose name is Max, ran over. He took on the fire like a pet, watching Dan, gathering wood, throwing on whatever he could find. The mom and dad were Paulette and Rick, they live in the countryside outside of London and have extremely awesome accents.
They are here on a month-long vacation and this was there first day of six on this particular jaunt through the backcountry. They have already completed two, one in Yoho and one from Lake Louise to Banff.
I’m pie-eyed, having assumed that we’ll have to give up camping adventures for several years while our kids are young.
“It was one of the things I worried about most when Paulette said she wanted to have a child,” said Rick. “When he was young-until he was two-I could carry him on my back. Ages three to six, when he couldn’t walk properly, were the hardest. But when he was seven, he could begin to carry his own sleeping bag and things like that.
“The thing is, you just have to decide what you want to do, and then figure out how to make it happen.”
His climbing partner Simone Moro answered: “Well it’s love, really.” You follow the things you love, however foolish, whatever sacrifice you have to make, whatever risk you have to take. Just like you would for a person you love.
Our adventures are so dang tame in comparison, and I’m not sure how much risk or sacrifice they involve. But I think we are pushing ourselves harder and farther. Because I do love the mountain light.
I love fetching water at the river.
I love imagining a Giant Queen opening the door and stepping out of this mountain.
I love campfires, and the smell in our tent before we sleep. Like evergreens and nylon and smoke in our hair and sweat and sunscreen. (I love this man, too.)
I asked Rick if he was always a mountain man, if his parents were outdoors people.
“No,” he said. “Not at all. I have this distinct memory of being about four-years-old and looking out the window at this big hill and wanting so badly to see what was on top of it. So I begged my dad for weeks. Finally, he took me up there, and there was this huge view and all of these sheep trails. I just thought it was the most wonderful thing. Ever since then I’ve wanted to be on top of things and exploring.”
When the moon rose and the stars came out, we finally went to bed. In the morning, we gave them our fresh thyme and the rest of our parmesan cheese (Max almost toppled over he was so excited about the cheese.) It’s all about the little treats when you’re camping.
We took their picture and they took ours.
|So cute, aren’t they?|
Also: we found this moose antler. Can you imagine shedding this thing?
This is my favorite picture. Favorite mountain. Favorite man.