Part VIII – Chapter 5 – 2010

Dinosaur Provincial Park

Charlie was really glad to see the hoodoos in Dinosaur Provincial Park when they finally got there. He liked those hoodoos even better than the ones at Writing-on-Stone and Drumheller. Dinosaur seemed to have a greater variety of shapes.

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Just after Charlie and BJ set out for Dinosaur, he noticed field after field of large hay bales. When he asked BJ how anyone could ever use that much hay, she pointed out that if the locals couldn’t use it Saskatchewan sure could. Many of those farmers over there were having to kill off their stock because they couldn’t feed them.

There always seemed to be a shortage of hay someplace, she said. A couple years earlier, Albertans were the ones who had to truck it in from Saskatchewan.

Note: All the photos in this post are from previous trips. Charlie was being careful. He was on photography probation, and he was saving his shooting time for Dinosaur.

For the last few months, up until just before Thanksgiving, he’d been leaving his camera stuff at home when he and BJ were out together. It seemed that photography and togetherness just didn’t mix. Hadn’t for years. But then BJ put him on a one-camera-body-one-lens-no-tripod probation.

You may remember that Charlie talked all about this probation stuff back in Part VI, Chapter 6, and then again in Part VII, Chapter 1.

They were running a bit late by the time they got to Brooks because they’d driven around Picture Butte to check it out, and they’d also gone into Turin to see if they could find Darla’s old house, if it was still standing, to see if anyone was living it.

And maybe take a photo of it to show her.

The first thing they saw when they turned in was that Turin had a traffic light. Charlie photographed it for Darla.

There were no street signs when she’d lived there in the 1970s, but she said someone had told her years ago that her house was on Second Street just north of Second Avenue.

But they couldn’t find it.

They could’ve asked someone about it, but Charlie wanted to get going. Dinosaur was still a couple hours away.

He really wanted to ask BJ, beg if necessary, if he could stop and photograph some of the fields with combines, and tractor-trailer units, and pickup trucks, and billowing dust – perfect prairie scenes – but he thought better of it. He didn’t want to push his luck.

Just before they got to Dinosaur, they drove around Patricia. They didn’t go into the pub, though, because they were going to get a burger there on the way home. They just wanted to have a quick look around in case it was dark when they got back.

One of Charlie’s all-time favorite signs was between Patricia and the park, although he’d never seen any rattlesnakes where they were supposed to be crossing.

Rattlesnake Sign
Because of signs like this, he usually wore snake guards when he was in grass and bushes photographing landscape stuff.

His very, very favourite was a “Duck Crossing” sign with a silhouette of a mom followed by four ducklings. The only place he’d ever seen that sign was just after you turn off Hwy. 2 into Cudworth, Saskatchewan, where Hwy. 777 crosses through a large pond.

He’d driven past the sign several times, but he’d never stopped to photograph it. Too busy.

No time to say, Hello, Goodbye! I’m l-a-t-e, late!

Now, of course, he wished he had.

He wished he’d photographed that duck sign, and lots of other things, as well.

Sins of omission tend to come back to haunt your Lightroom catalogue. (A metaphor? In spades! For Charlie, at least.)

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Note

To enlarge a single photo in a post, click on it. To zoom in for details, click on it a second time.

Click on the first photo in groups of photos to start a slideshow. 

To see one of those group shots at full size, click on it, then scroll down to its bottom right where it says, View full size. You can click on it a second time, if you wish, to zoom in for details.

≈≈≈

(© 2017 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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Part VIII – Chapter 3 – 2010

Feature Photo

The feature photo above is a photo Charlie took of a painting Jillian made out in Waterton park when she and Roz came to Lethbridge to visit him and BJ for a few days.

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And below is a photo Charlie took of the painting Roz liked the most of the ones she did. She liked the stability of those triangles, although circles would have better, she’d said. Even more peaceful.

She preferred painting pacific scenes with just a hint of action, such as that lazy hawk floating on those gentle thermals and perhaps occasionally glancing at its mate down below to its right. That was action enough.

For her, the more tranquility, the better. She wasn’t a fan of tensions of any kind. And Randy had learned to live with that.

A Painting by Roz

Jillian’s paintings, however, often had a raw energy about them. She much preferred ruggedness and a sense of drama. She did paint a couple like Roz’s, but this was her favorite.

A Painting by Jillian

Charlie liked Jillian’s stuff better. A lot better. He liked nature in all its rawness.

When he and BJ moved from Saskatoon to the Arnscourt Villas in 2006, he was immediately taken with the fairly frequent high winds for which Lethbridge is known.

He really enjoyed watching branches and leaves lashing about with abandon in those savage, wilding winds, in the same way that he enjoyed watching the raw energy of white caps on rivers and lakes, or curling waves exploding onto an ocean’s rocky shoreline.

Nature, for him, was most alive at those times.

Those wonderfully warm and windless days of summer that other people seemed to crave were anathema to him.

If he wanted that kind of tranquility, he could always take a nap.

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Note

To enlarge a single photo in a post, click on it. To zoom in for details, click on it a second time.

≈≈≈

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Part VII – Chapter 6 – 2010

Just Before the Rock Band

The photo above shows Charlie’s first good look at the rock band. He’d have to climb it. That was the only way he could get up to the south end of the ridge.

If he’d started at the north end of the ridge by Wall Lake, he’d have had to climb down the rock band once he got to it, and he saw his trying to do that as absolutely insane.

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In Post 3c, I posted some photos that I took from the top of the Akamina Ridge. If you want to see them, just click the hyperlink in the previous sentence.

Here are some other photos starting from the trailhead that might also interest you.

In the parking area that morning it was a bit foggy. And the fog continued for a while up the trail.

But before Charlie turned left at the junction by the Ranger Station where the climb up to Forum Lake begins, the fog had burned off.

You’re already aware, of course, that I know nothing about flowers or butterflies. I admitted that earlier. Now you’ll learn that I also know nothing about birds.

Initially, I thought this might be a rock ptarmigan below. It looked like one to me when I checked out photos on the Internet.

But then I realized I wasn’t at a high enough elevation. So now my guess is that this is a female spruce grouse with at least four chicks – one before, one beside, and two on the log.

Female Spruce Grouse

But I could easily change my mind about that within the hour.

When Charlie got close to the top, but before he’d found the rock band, he thought the trail might go to the right here. There was no signage, and the trail was difficult to see. So he went right.

Just Before the Rock Band

That’s the ridge up there straight ahead in the photo above. And that’s Wall Lake below where he’d end up.

But the so-called trail in the photo below, which soon became a wee ledge, in fact, kept getting narrower and narrower. When it got to about six inches wide, and was still narrowing, and the drop went straight down hundreds of feet, Charlie decided that couldn’t possibly be the way to the rock band.

Just Before the Rock Band

So he slowly inched backward, being careful not to let his backpack, or his hiking poles, or his camera, or his monopod, or the stuff on his belt, catch on anything that could cause him to lose his balance.

(An aside – but please don’t tell BJ. This was Charlie’s third-worst ledge. The worst one could easily have been his last one. And he couldn’t back up on that ledge like he did here. He had to keep going. Even today, it bothers him to look at the one photo he did manage to take.)

And even after all his other hikes, and after all he’d read, he was still completely unaware that he never, ever should have had the poles’ wrist straps around his wrists while climbing.

He hadn’t met his three Canmore Angels yet. But after he does meet them, and after they ask if he’d ever scrambled before, and after he says No, and after they ask him if he’d mind a little advice, and after he says No, one of them immediately tells him about the straps.

“Worst-case scenario,” she concludes, “catch a pole on a rock with the strap on and down you go. Better just to lose the pole.”

But now for that twenty-five-foot rock band, which is the last hurdle before reaching the plateau at the top, and which various websites warn newbies about.

Charlie mentioned back in Part IV, Chapter 5, when he was explaining his hiking project to BJ, that he was somewhat afraid of the rock band. He thought that maybe it was something a seventy-year-old novice shouldn’t even be trying.

And he couldn’t stop thinking about David in Earle Birney’s poem “David.” He kept imagining himself splayed on boulders on a ledge, like David, his broken body drying in the sun, his shriveled eyes staring up at the rock face he’d tried to climb.

But if he did fall like David did, and if a sharp rock pierced his spine, too, he’d have no Bob to show him mercy and push him off the ledge to the icy moraine far below.

From a distance, the rock band didn’t look all that daunting.

That’s it up ahead and to the left.

Just Before the Rock Band

As he got closer, though, it started to look a bit more challenging.

Just Before the Rock Band

That’s the Akamina Ridge on the skyline to the right and the left. You can go left once you get to the ridge, if you want, and look down on Forum Lake. But the main trail goes to the right and then descends all the way down to Wall Lake.

The Angels arrived just as Charlie had started up, but before he’d gotten to any of the really tough parts.

He stopped climbing to let them pass.

After talking to him for a bit, however, they suggested they could choose a route up, and he could follow them, if he’d like. And, of course, he’d immediately said he’d like.

Later on, he suspected that after talking with him, they’d decided to babysit him for the rest of the day. They’d go over a crest, and then futz around until they saw him. Then they’d go over the next one and do the same.

Finally, on a flat part at the end of the ridge, they waited until he could see them, and then one at a time they walked across to the northwest corner, so he’d know where the trail started down to Wall Lake. They knew the Akamina. They’d mentioned earlier that this was not the first time they’d hiked it.

The Akamina Ridge
Descending from the Akamina Ridge. That’s Wall Lake in the center.

And once he knew where to start, they left. The hike down to Wall and back to the trailhead was easily doable, even for a novice. Painful and tiring, but doable.

That’s the Akamina Ridge along the top of the last two photos, where he’d been shepherded along by his Angels.

And those Angels were the only people he saw all day.

Just before Charlie and Victoria left the beer garden on the stampede grounds in the chapter you just read, he told her about the ptarmigan he’d seen.

Later on, he told her he thought the ptarmigan were breeding white-tailed ptarmigan in summer colors.

But he also said he’d thought they were rock ptarmigan for quite a while from the pictures on the Internet.

The only thing he knew for sure was they weren’t robins.

(Perhaps someone who knows birds will solve Charlie’s problem for him by leaving a comment at the end of this post.)

At one point, he saw all four of her chicks. One was nestled in between his feet, another was on top of his right boot, and the other two were off to the side.

And when he left, he had to keep chasing the boot-top one back to its mom. It kept trying to hike along with him.

By the time Charlie got down to Wall Lake, he was starting to feel a lot safer. He knew the six kilometers from there to the trailhead was basically flat. He’d hiked into Wall before.

But he wasn’t nearly as safe as he thought.

He’d been sweating a lot all day because of the extra gear he’d brought, including two Nikon camera bodies, three prime lenses, and a monopod.

And he hadn’t refilled even one water bottle at Wall when he had the chance.

As a result, he was out of water for the last two hours on a hike that took him almost eleven hours.

He told Victoria he’d gotten to the point where he could barely walk. “Sometimes I just stood still in the middle of the path and wondered if I could make it out. And I was no longer afraid of bears. And I was no longer even afraid of dying. It didn’t seem to matter anymore one way or the other.”

He also told her that two days later at his annual checkup, Dr. Aulan told him he’d probably had a close call. He told him that without salt and water after he’d been hiking that long, his system might have been starting to shut down, and that at his age he easily could have died.

But he didn’t die. And he did get some photos he really liked.

And one final point, as an FYI, those clouds you saw in several of the photos worried Charlie. Any suggestion of lightning, and he’d have had to climb down off the ridge thirty or forty feet for the duration. Otherwise, he’d be a lightning rod up there just waiting for the inevitable.

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Note

To enlarge a single photo in a post, click on it. To zoom in for details, click on it a second time.

Click on the first photo in groups of photos to start a slideshow. 

To see one of those group shots at full size, click on it, then scroll down to its bottom right where it says, View full size. You can click on it a second time, if you wish, to zoom in for details.

≈≈≈

(© 2018 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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Part VII – Chapter 1 – 2010

Welcome to Waterton

The little fella up there on the rock has been trained by Parks Canada to screech out, “Welcome to Waterton.” Most people don’t hear that, though. They’re too busy looking at the flowers.

And unfortunately, he has to leave at the end of August every year to go back to school. So lots of people never get to see him.

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Charlie and BJ stopped at a pull-off on the Red Rock Parkway, which is the beginning of the Bellevue Trail. The trail meanders along beside Bellevue Hill (2093 m), which backs onto the east side Mount Galwey (2377 m), and it goes all the way to the bison compound.

But Charlie mentioned in the chapter you just read that he didn’t want to go that far. He was in a thinky mood. He just wanted to poke along and look at things.

Most years, the meadows on the Red Rock Parkway look like this in the spring.

Here are some of the flowers that bloom along the parkway.

I’m going to start with the crocus. They’re my very favorite. Charlie’s, too. They’re often the first flower to appear in the spring. They’ll even push up through snow and start blooming. Pretty gutsy.

But I had no idea that my favorite crocus is not a crocus. And Charlie was no help. He knows even less about flowers than I do.

True crocuses, apparently, are in the Lily family. My crocus, the prairie crocus, is an anemone, which is in the Buttercup family, and is often called a pasqueflower. Oh, well. C’est la vie.

Flowers in the Park
Crocus. Pasqueflowers.

Charlie also really liked the glacier lily, which is another early bloomer. It appears almost immediately after the snows melt. And sometimes even before.

People who are into natural healing recommend this lily as an excellent source of nutrition, but they caution that its bulb and leaves should only be harvested in an emergency. The plant is quite rare in some places.

And, of course, Waterton has lots of the ubiquitous old man’s whiskers, which range from Canada down to California and across to New York.

And two final examples below of the many flowers in the meadows: the dotted blazingstar (purple) and the western Canada goldenrod (yellow). I admit, though, that I had to confirm the names of these flowers with Waterton’s Visitor Experience Manager.

Note: I’m guessing that the butterflies are Zerene fritillaries, which are a species of butterflies. And if I really wanted to push it, I might even suggest they are speyeria callippe comstockis. If that’s incorrect, though, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

However, the following photos are probably closer to what Charlie and BJ saw.

It’s too bad it was so windy the day I took these photos. I had to go with a much shallower depth of field than I wanted.

The other option, of course, was to go for maximum depth of field and a slower shutter speed and let the flowers sweep back and forth. Beautiful splashes of color. But I opted for as much definition as I could get.

At the end of the chapter, BJ promises Charlie a double mint chip waffle cone if he’ll stop talking about what the vandals did to the flowers in the meadow, and a Local Smokie if the story he’s about to tell her is a good one.

She knows his weak spots. And Charlie easily earns both the cone and the Smokie, especially the Smokie, with his recounting of his experiences at London Conference in 1967.

In the next chapter, BJ is actually quite surprised by his story, especially the parts about Jeremy Roda. She wished she could have met Roda and heard him preach at one of his Sunday evening services at Metropolitan United.

Roda’d certainly been a major influence on her ol’ sweetie.

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Note

To enlarge a single photo in a post, click on it. To zoom in for details, click on it a second time.

Click on the first photo in groups of photos to start a slideshow.

To see one of those group shots at full size, click on it, then scroll down to its bottom right where it says, View full size. You can click on it a second time, if you wish, to zoom in for details.

≈≈≈

(© 2018 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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Part VI – Chapter 13 – 2010

The 49th Parallel

In the featured photo above, we’re looking east along the 49th parallel. One step to the left is Canada. One to the right is the United States.

That cut in the trees across the lake, called The Slash, is just over six meters wide and runs for 3,500 kilometers.

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On Monday, Charlie’s shoulder was still a mess. That little trip into Lower Bertha on Saturday hadn’t helped a bit.

This was his second hike along the Lakeshore Trail, and this was his last practice run on it.

Next year, when he’d turn seventy, it’d be showtime for all seventeen hikes listed in the Hiking Map and Guide for the Waterton Lakes National Park.

I’ve come a long way, he thought, considering that I’d never really hiked until last year.

Last year had to be gentle, this year can be a tad more challenging, and then next year will be my biggy. The big 7-0.

And I’m definitely going to hike all of them alone, goldarnit. Unfortunately, that alone was becoming a problem.

But despite the little alone glitch, he thought, I just keep getting more and more excited with each new practice run. Apprehensive maybe, but excited. Very excited.

However, he often remembered the morning out on the patio last year when he told BJ about his plan. She hadn’t been quite as enthusiastic.

You’re out of your mind, Charlie. No one ever hikes alone. Not ever.

He’d told BJ all about the hikes, hoping that would help. There are seventeen of them, he’d said, and they range in distance from 0.6 to 21 kilometers. The hike with the most elevation gain is the Akamina Ridge at 975 meters, almost a kilometer. Straight up in places.

BJ was listening, but playing with her left earlobe. That was not a good sign.

The Akamina Ridge Trail, he continued, is 18.3 kilometers. The Lineham Ridge is similar at 17.2 with an elevation gain of 950 meters. And both ridges involve scrambling.

I’ve never scrambled before, BJ. And I still don’t know what it involves. It does sound a bit scary, I’ll admit, but if I can’t do it, or if it looks the least bit dangerous, I’ll just turn back.

Right, BJ thought. She couldn’t imagine him ever turning back from anything he’d set his mind to. She was still fiddling with her earlobe.

And they would come back to that particular discussion about his project a number of times, especially the alone part.

Anyhow, because of his shoulder, today’s practice run down to Goat Haunt had to be an easy, ultralight, 15.3 kilometer walk with just his bear spray, a fanny pack with his journal and a pen, and one pole in his right hand.

He bought his ticket for the boat ride back at the Waterton Lakes Cruise office. He also left his car in their parking lot. And the walk from there down to the Bertha Lake parking lot was really encouraging. Hardly any pain.

And just up from the Bertha parking lot, he found what he took to be another good sign, his secret patch of mountain lady’s-slippers still in full bloom.

And they’re even more beautiful than usual, he thought.

Despite his auspicious beginning, however, he was fully aware he was risking serious injury to his AC if he banged it up, though he remembered the trail as being mostly flat.

But his memory failed him. The trail was far from flat.

He also knew his favorite part of the hike was going to be the 49th parallel. His ritualistic high-point piss would not be on a high point today, but it would be very, very special.

No high-point piss could ever match pissing on the 49th parallel. Lots of high points, but only one 49th. Two countries at once. Just swing it back and forth across the border.

Then he thought of the little tailor whose belt said, “Seven at One Blow,” and he chuckled.

And when he got to the border, there was no one else around, so he was free to straddle it and hose it down in peace.

A sign just off the trail said it was only 7.2 kilometers to the Ranger Station where he’d get his passport stamped, “Port of Goat Haunt, MT, Glacier National Park,” and beside the official stamp a second one, a depiction of a big, burly goat.

The rest of the trail from the 49th down to the Ranger Station was mostly flat and quite picturesque.

Actually, Charlie had come to really dislike the Lakeshore Trail and the Crypt Lake Trail, though, because both hikes depended on catching a friggin boat back to the townsite.

But I’ll leave that particular tirade for the novel.

He noted in his journal that he got to the US Customs at 1:58. Was processed by 2:13. And the boat back would leave at 2:25. He saw having only twelve minutes to spare as cutting it a way too fine.

All that pressure because of the frigging boat. And the same with Crypt. Another friggin boat.

The International
The International is the 2:25 ride back to the townsite. Note the metal barge through the slats. [To see the barge more clearly, click on the picture, scroll down, click “View full size, and then click on the photo to zoom in.]
Charlie was really curious about the metal barge right next to the dock. In his twelve-minutes-to-spare, he asked one of the officers about it, but she said none of them knew anything, and they’d been told not to ask questions.

The barge would just show up unannounced, she said, with a half-dozen men and horses, and then they’d quietly saddle up and ride out into the trees toward Glacier. They weren’t very talkative.

Her only guess was that maybe some people might hike down from Waterton and keep going straight, instead of hanging a left for the short walk into the Ranger Station, because they were trying to enter the US illegally. Although, she said, it’s probably about something entirely different. She just didn’t know.

By 2:25, a storm was obviously coming in from the west, but the trip north still looked sunny.

Looking north toward the Waterton townsite.
The metal barge is on the right next to the shore. The mystery barge.

It’s been a good day, Charlie decided. I’ve made the whole 15.3 kilometers down to Goat Haunt with no stress whatsoever on my AC. I made it in time to catch the boat back. And, of course, the highlight was my undisturbed, leisurely pause at the 49th.

I just wish I’d been able to find a rock I liked that was dead center on the border, or even a second-best by the hanging bridge.

This is the bridge is where he’d hoped to find a second-best.

Charlie’s declaration about it being a good day, however, was before the muscles on the insides of his thighs started to cramp as soon as he sat down for the boat ride back.

And before he remembered that BJ wouldn’t be home to help him check for ticks.

A Note:

I had to hike the Lakeshore Trail with Charlie, as well as all his other hikes. Otherwise I wouldn’t have known what he’d done. Or more importantly, how he felt about what he’d done.

He did have a couple close calls that could have gone either way. And the irony is that those close calls didn’t happen on the dramatic hikes: the Akamina Ridge, the Lineham Ridge, the Carthew-Alderson.

They happened on two of the trails that were supposed to be safe, that is until he tried to do some things he shouldn’t have.

I could never have imagined what Charlie felt when he thought he might be about to die. That’s why I had to be up there with him.

And maybe our being together up there helped me come a wee bit closer to writing what Hemingway describes as true sentences about true experiences.

Made-up things always sound made up. Don’t they?

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Note

To enlarge a single photo in a post, click on it. To zoom in for details, click on it a second time.

Click on the first photo in groups of photos to start a slideshow.

To see one of those group shots at full size, click on it, then scroll down to its bottom right where it says, View full size. You can click on it a second time, if you wish, to zoom in for details.

≈≈≈

(© 2018 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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Part VI – Chapter 12 – 2010

Lower Bertha Falls

Lower Bertha Falls in the photo above is spectacular, but not nearly as spectacular as Upper Bertha Falls. Charlie enjoyed photographing both falls on his way up to Bertha Lake. And he enjoyed their sound, and their smell, and their occasion misty spray – as long as it didn’t get on his lens.

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The hike into Lower Bertha Falls is one of the park’s more popular hikes. A gentle, scenic 2-2.5 hours that most people, including families, can handle. It’s rated as an easy moderate.

The trail is 5.2 km return, but it only has an elevation gain of 175 m.

The part of the trail in the photo below is just after Charlie’s secret patch of mountain lady’s-slippers and just before the cutoff down to the Lakeshore Trail, which he plans to hike on Monday, two days hence.

At this point, we’re looking south down Upper Waterton Lake toward Goat Haunt. The Lakeshore Trail goes along the shoreline on the right.

These photos are from Charlie’s earlier hikes. Because of his shoulder, he couldn’t photograph on the rainy hike in the chapter you just read.

The Trail into Lower Bertha Falls

On this particular hike, the bear grass lined both sides of the trail and beyond. It was everywhere.

Apparently, bear grass peaks every ten years, or every eight years, or every five to seven years, or every three. And the people who argue for those particular numbers of peak years are usually quit adamant.

But others argue that all those numbers are wrong. A year of exceptional blooming depends solely on having ideal climatic conditions.

But rather than worry about that right now, let’s just look at some blossoms.

And this is what they looked like along the trail.

After hiking through all that splendor, the pressure was on Bertha Falls to be really spectacular. And it was. Bertha is a beautiful bridal veil waterfall, especially resplendent in the spring.

Charlie had hiked into Lower Bertha Falls several times, sometimes alone, sometimes with BJ, and once with Jillian early on when she and Roz were visiting.

Actually, Jillian would see Lower Bertha twice more when she and Charlie set out to hike up to Bertha Lake.

You may remember from the post Part I, Chapter 1 that Charlie insisted the novel should begin and end at Bertha Lake. Bertha Lake held some of his happiest memories, but it is also one of the two places where he almost died.

And he insisted that the novel should have thirteen parts beginning with Part XIII, Chapter 1 and ending with Part XIII, Chapter 1.

I finally agreed to the thirteen parts, but I thought it would be too confusing for most readers to start with Part XIII, Chapter 1, 2018 and then immediately move to Part I, Chapter 1, 1996. So I started with Part I, not XIII, although I still think he had a very interesting idea.

Fortunately, either he hasn’t noticed how I started the novel, or he’s just given up on me. I’m sure he thinks I was simply too afraid to try something different. And maybe he’s right. Could be.

≈≈≈

Note

To enlarge a single photo in a post, click on it. To zoom in for details, click on it a second time.

Click on the first photo in groups of photos to start a slideshow.

To see one of those group shots at full size, click on it, then scroll down to its bottom right where it says, View full size. You can click on it a second time, if you wish, to zoom in for details.

≈≈≈

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Part VI – Chapter 11 – 2010

After the Kenow wildfire

This is what some of the mountains in Waterton Lakes National Park look like after being burned by the Kenow wildfire. The fire, which was started by lightning in British Columbia, was first detected on August 30, 2017. It entered Waterton Park on September 11 and was not finally under control until the beginning of October.

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The Bear’s Hump is one of the most popular hikes in the park. Up until last year, the trail began right behind the Visitors Center. But the Kenow wildfire burned both the Center and the trail. The trail is still closed and may be for some time.

I didn’t take any photos of the Bear’s Hump with snow on it right after the fire, but here is a nearby mountain. All those beautiful conifers have become black matchsticks.

After the Kenow wildfire
The snow highlights the black matchstick-conifers.

This is looking up at the Bear’s Hump from the townsite before the fire.

This is looking down on the Bear’s Hump from the Prince of Wales parking lot before the fire.

The Bear's Hump
At a 3:1 magnification, you can easily see four people on the top.

And almost a year later, in July 2018.

The Bear's Hump
The Bear’s Hump is showing some signs of regeneration.

As a further comparison of the fire damage, below is the mountain on the west side of the bison compound.

But the compound is fighting back.

Looking through the fence into the compound. If some of these flowers look out of focus, let’s agree to blame the wind, OK? To get f/5.6, and I really wanted f/6.3, I had to use 1/160 sec. Too slow, right?

The Hump is only 2.4 km return, but it has an elevation gain of 240 meters, which means it’s very steep. In places, it’s almost like climbing a staircase. That’s why it’s listed as “strenuous.”

I’ve had to use photos of the trail when it was dry. I was going to borrow some hail/rain photos from Charlie, but the day he hiked up in the chapter you just read, he couldn’t take his camera because of his shoulder.

So here are some photos from the bottom two-thirds of the dry trail.

Charlie probably hit some snow like this after the rain stopped and just before he got to the top.

The Bear's Hump trail
The trail was rated Good-Poor because of the snow on the top third. You can see the Prince of Wales through the trees on the left.

Two photos taken just before reaching the top.

And some vista shots from up there.

The winding road in the bottom right of the first photo goes into Cameron Lake and to most of the major hikes. But it is closed now and probably will be for a couple years.

After looking around for a while, and his high-point piss, and his choosing a souvenir rock, Charlie went back down.

And discovered the signs that were warning everyone about the cougars.

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Note

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Click on the first photo in groups of photos to start a slideshow.

To see one of those group shots at full size, click on it, then scroll down to its bottom right where it says, View full size. You can click on it a second time, if you wish, to zoom in for details.

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(© 2018 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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Part VI – Chapter 7 – 2010

Turtle Mountain

Above is what Turtle Mountain, in the Crowsnest Pass, looks like today after ninety-million tons of rock broke off in 1903 and slid down into the valley below.

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In Waterton Lakes National Park, the hike around Linnet Lake was closed in the fall of 2017 because of the Kenow wildfire, which destroyed thirty-eight percent of the park, 190 square kilometers, including fifty percent of the vegetation and eighty percent of the popular hiking trails.

Linnet is where Charlie intended to begin his hiking project in mid-July of 2011 as a symbolic gesture.

He wanted to see if he could somehow connect the spirit or feel of his hiking with the sense of freedom he’d known as a hippie in Montreal in his university days, and also with the freedom he’d known in his more recent Harley Davidson days, both of which he’d absolutely loved. And still missed. A lot.

Starting back in 1992, in mid-July, he’d fire up his Harley, an FLHTCU, and head down to Sturgis, North Dakota, the home of the biggest bike rally west of the Mississippi. And he wanted to imbue his hiking with that same feeling, that same sense of freedom.

Linnet is a unique lake as explained in the two signs below.

BJ really liked all this biology and geology stuff. Especially the geology. But Charlie wasn’t that keen on it. So, in a sense, BJ is responsible for the inclusion of the following signs. Charlie, at best, would simply skim-read a sign or two to please her. So you have Charlie’s permission to do the same if you wish.

I did have a longish passage in my novel about the three-toed salamanders in Linnet Lake, but I took it out. Unfortunately, they’re verging on extinction in Alberta. If you’re interested, though, you could Google them to find out more.

The second hike, if you can call it that, was the Buffalo Paddock Trail.

One of the other signs claims that sixty-million bison were slaughtered during a one-hundred-year period, mostly in the nineteenth century. Only one thousand survived out of all those sixty million. That tidbit was, for Charlie, the most interesting part of this so-called hike.

He and BJ often drove around on the road inside the compound, especially at calving time, to see the newborns.

Red Rock Canyon, the third of his three easy hikes, had lots of things that fascinated BJ, but left Charlie mostly disinterested and confused. He did love the colours of the rocks, though, especially when they were wet.

Linnet Lake
Charlie, illegally, picked up a number of these argillite rocks and took them home. He especially liked the red ones.

But signs like “NICKELS DEEP” didn’t interest him at all.

Charlie tended to skip stuff like this.

The two of them usually walked along the left side of the canyon, crossed over a bridge in the trees up ahead, then came back along the right side.

Red Rock Creek
The most popular part of the creek. People often wade in the water down below and sit on the rocks and picnic.

A better look at the redness of the argillite rocks. There may be some green argillite in the last two photos, but I’m not sure.

On the right side, coming back from the bridge in the trees, they walked over lots of examples of mud cracks and ripple marks in the sedimentary rock from when Alberta was on the very edge of the North American Plate and often under the Belt Sea, which was one of the many inland seas that kept flooding North America.

This was all before British Columbia even existed.

And ripples turning into the rock formation below simply didn’t make sense to him. But then, he’d never spent any time reading about all that stuff.

But he did think the claims about the mud cracks sounded more credible.

They’d intended to go to Frank after they completed his practice hikes, but it was too late, so they went to Twin Butte for Mexican.

That’s the town of Frank a way over there as seen from the parking lot at the Interpretive Center.

The Town of Frank, AB
Frank, Alberta

Too bad they were so late with the hikes, though. Charlie had been really looking forward to the all-you-can-eat Sunday buffet at the Grizzly Bear Grill.

And if they had gone to Frank, they would have driven past Turtle Mountain and the Interpretive Center. Frank had been located at the base of Turtle until they moved it after the slide.

Turtle Mountain
It has an elevation of over 7,000 feet.

At 4:10 a.m. on April 29, 1903, ninety-million tons of rock slid off the mountain, buried the Old Man River and the train tracks, as well as part of Frank, then blasted across the valley at seventy mile an hour and climbed 500 feet up the mountains on the other side.

Approximately seventy to ninety people were killed, making the Frank Slide the deadliest landslide in Canada. And up until a few years ago, the largest. Most of the dead are still under the rubble. The dead may or may not include a camp of migrants at the base of the mountain who were looking for work. Some say they’d left. But no one knows for sure.

The Base of Turtle Mountain
The debris from Turtle Mountain

In the recent photo above, looking down from the Interpretive Center, you can see the Old Man River and the train tracks on the other side of the highway.

And from the highway, looking north, this is what you see.

But as far as Charlie was concerned, Mexican at Twin Butte would be every bit as good as the buffet at the Grizzly Bear Grill. And he’d have his usual. Two enchiladas, one chicken and one pulled pork, Spanish rice, and refried beans. And, of course, two Labatt 50s.

The Twin Butte General Store
First opened in the 1930s, then refurbished and reopened in 1996

Anyway, those are the three shortest and easiest of the seventeen trails listed in the park’s hiking guide, which Charlie would hike in 2011, the year he’d turn seventy. Nothing like the Akamina at 18.3 kilometers with an elevation gain of 950 meters, just under a kilometer, of course. But a good start.

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Note

To enlarge a single photo in a post, click on it. To zoom in for details, click on it a second time.

Click on the first photo in groups of photos to start a slideshow.

To see one of those group shots at full size, click on it, then scroll down to its bottom right where it says, View full size. You can click on it a second time, if you wish, to zoom in for details.

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(© 2018 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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Part VI – Chapter 2 – 2010

Nicholas Sheran Park

Canadas at the west end of Nicholas Sheran Park, Lethbridge

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BJ and Charlie agreed that it would be safe for him to hike into Cameron Lake the next day by himself so he could check it off his list.

Below is Nicholas Sheran Lake in the wintertime. Charlie and BJ had been walking around the lake when BJ got after him for ignoring her.

In the first photo, these Canada Geese are standing on ice, and they must be wondering if maybe they should have migrated south when the others went. Two weeks later, given the photo on the right, they’re probably no longer wondering.

This is the Red Shoe Pub on Cape Breton Island that BJ referred to.

On their walk, she’d reminded him, once again, that his obsession with getting great shots at the Red Shoe had caused him to miss out on an amazing Acadian Tourtière since he’d let his get cold. And he’d also miss out on a crazy Celtic fiddler, and two equally amazing step dancers, and a wonderfully warm gingerbread dessert. All wasted on him because his mind was elsewhere.

And all that sneaking around for those “great shots” that he seldom even bothers to process was quite embarrassing to watch.

And here is BJ’s other complaint. The trip was meant to be quality time with Charlie’s sister and brother-in-law, who they didn’t get to see very often. But when the four of them were supposed to be sightseeing, he was always someplace else. Usually someplace a way behind them, photographing.

And finally — — —

The Buddha
Wake up!

“Good gosh, Charlie, Life, with a capital L, is so much grander than what you see through a viewfinder. But to fully experience that grandeur, and to fully enjoy it, you have to smell it, and taste it, and feel it, and hear it. You have to be in the moment. And it saddens me when you’re not.

“Looking at life through that viewfinder of yours captures very little of what’s out there.

“I can’t believe I have to keep reminding a man who reads so much Zen to honor the moment. To embrace it. To savor it. But it seems I do, don’t I?

“Sweetie, you need to reread Kerouac’s Wake Up, that wonderful book you value so much, and you need to do what he says. You need to purify your jar of muddy water.”

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Note

To enlarge a single photo in a post, click on it. To zoom in for details, click on it a second time.

Click on the first photo in groups of photos to start a slideshow.

To see one of those group shots at full size, click on it, then scroll down to its bottom right where it says, View full size. You can click on it a second time, if you wish, to zoom in for details.

≈≈≈

(© 2018 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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Part VI – Chapter 1 – 2010

The Akamina Ridge

The featured image above shows the beginning of the descent from the northwest end of the Akamina Ridge. A little to the left of center, almost a kilometer down, is Wall Lake. The path starts immediately at the bottom of this photo. It might not look like a path, but it is. And it is exceedingly rugged.

By the time you get down to Wall, your knees and thighs probably won’t be on speaking terms with you.

The same goes for the Goat Lake trail, which has a nineteen-percent grade at times.

Goat Lake
Heading down to the trailhead from Goat Lake

There’s a special way to tie your boots, so you won’t blacken your toenails. But sometimes even that doesn’t help.

This, however, is what the Crandell Lake Trail looks like in the wintertime. Much more gentle.

Compare Crandell with Lineham below, which Charlie hiked alone a couple months earlier and almost died.

Try to imagine hiking on the trail in the second and third photos during a blizzard, with zero visibility at times, and the trail completely buried under blowing snow. One small step off that trail, and you’d lose your balance, and you’d drop into soft powder snow. Deep soft powder.

And then you add in the postholing that Charlie had to negotiate, and you have the perfect recipe for disaster.

Charlie had intended to go beyond the “Trails End” sign to get closer to the falls for some sun-on-ice shots. But obviously, because of the blizzard, that didn’t happen.

And as you saw at the end of the chapter, Charlie’s attempting to photograph Lineham Falls in the wintertime would never happen again. Ever.

This attempt had almost killed him. It should have. And they might not have found his body, what was left of it, until spring.

“He was still shaking when he got home. He kept crying and choking up as he told BJ what had happened. She just sat quietly, white-faced, saying nothing.

“In the end, he’d promised her, and himself, that he would never, ever go out alone on a winter hike like that again.”

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Note

To enlarge a single photo in a post, click on it. To zoom in for details, click on it a second time.

Click on the first photo in groups of photos to start a slideshow.

To see one of those group shots at full size, click on it, then scroll down to its bottom right where it says, View full size. You can click on it a second time, if you wish, to zoom in for details.

≈≈≈

(© 2018 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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