the weekend wanderers

This time last weekend we were back at camp, napping, most likely, after a tiring and very steep hike up to the Sulfur Skyline in Jasper National Park. It was very warm at the bottom. And quiet. Not a lot of hikers. The hike took us through a heavily treed valley and switched backed through some deep snowy patches (1 foot deep in the tree line and about 3 feet 15 minutes from the summit). Gershwin and Luke took turns rolling in clean patches of snow on the way up. We reached the meadow plateau and thought that was awesome, until we finished the remainder of the climb (a steep 20 minute scramble up a scree slope where it was hard to tell the actual path from the erosion caused by snow melt) and then there was a 360 degree vista of awesomeness. And wind. Nothing to protect you from the elements up there, except God.

There were a few small groups of hikers up there, milling about, taking photos and soaking in the lovely panoramic view of the valley we all just hiked up, along with a variety of other valleys veering off in all the other directions. Gershwin pulled me up the mountain. The most faithful adventurer on 4 legs. Luke was uncertain about an hour into the hike. When the little switchbacks began he'd make it to the corner and then try and skirt behind Jason and lead him back down. Luke needed a bit more coaxing to get to the top, but once he did, he was literally shaking with attentiveness. There were ground squirrels, chipmunks and other small mountain rodents galore and he wanted to chase every one of them. Gershwin soaked up the attention of all the other hikers who needed to come and get a free snuggle. Dogs were a novelty at the top that day. We brought a bottle of beer each, and drank it at the top while we enjoyed a light snack and conversation with some hikers we met earlier that day back at the campsite when we were getting ready for our hike. They had a German name for the beer you enjoy at the top of a mountain, but I can't remember what it was and I certainly wouldn't know how to spell it, so I won't even try.

My phone was barely charged so most of the photos I took on that hike were on my Instax camera.

On the descent, Luke tried to slide down the deep snow bank where some of the hikers had made a sort of chute from sliding down it on their butts. It was pretty comical but Jason held fast to the leash so Luke wouldn't careen into the hikers below trying to make their way up the snowy bit. The mountain sheep we encountered in the parking lot were also quite amusing. They were fascinated by the dogs, and followed us for a bit in a close group. Every time we stopped, so did they and when we switched directions they followed us with their eyes and slowly inched closer. One of the young kids stamped his foot at us when Luke decided to get brave and move toward them. I'm sure the 4 of us ended up in a lot of tourist photos.

So that was the first camping and hiking trip of the season. It was a gooder. No drawing happened on that trip, but there was a good deal of reading, coffee and bacon consumption. I'm certain a painting (or two) will come out of my little collection of photos. This weekend is all backyard reading, knitting and prep for next weekend's mini outdoor festivals. There are too many fun things to do in Edmonton during the summer weekends!

Happy wandering!