A Perfect Ten – 2014

Hey there. I took a break from just about everything ‘widdershins-y’, I was starting to get way too squirrelly for my own sanity … one of those times when ‘whelmed’, which is the global default these days, tips over into ‘overwhelmed.

 The squirrels are now back where they belong, and my sanity is … well, back where it belongs too.

Onwards and forwards, I say!

So … continuing my countdown to my blog’s 10th Anniversary on 27th September this year, I’m revisiting what I posted on or around that date each year.

First, my only post for September 2014 (I may or may not have deleted any others in the ‘Great Blog Post Emendation’ of July 2020) was on my Birth Day (not unsurprisingly) and the nearest other one was on the 12th October, which was the only one for that month too. (looks like posts were suspiciously thin on the ground that year, my ‘Emendations’ not-with-standing)

The September one focuses on a certain rodent, so we’ll avoid that one entirely, shall we?

The other refers to our first jaunt into the ‘Interior’ (as any parts of British Columbia not fronting the Pacific Ocean are referred to) that started the cement-ation of where we wanted to make our ‘forever’ home, off the Lower Mainland (think coastal temperate rainforest – emphasis on the ‘rain’) where we currently reside. (that we were finally going to set forth and discover this year – best laid plans of mice and lesbians, eh?) … anyway …

We had lots of adventures on our 2014 trip, but the two highlights, (well, three really, but I’ll get to the third one in a moment) were getting to walk out onto a real live glacier …

There’s something wonderfully uplifting and heart-wrenching at the same time at being in the presence of awe-inspiring manifestations of Mother Nature, in my case the Athabasca Glacier, as they not-so-slowly reach the end of their life. At best we can only bear witness, and change our behaviours accordingly as we go forward from that moment.

… the second highlight was Lussier Hot Springs, a natural hot spring that rises next to the Lussier river and flows through a few natural pools (with a few additional carefully placed rocks) right into the river itself.

I have to tell you, I could’ve stayed, wallowed, in that gloriously hot mineral-y water for ever.

The third highlight, more of a realisation really, was that throughout the entire trip both Mrs Widds and I felt so much more energised at the higher, much higher, elevations. (Lussier hot springs is about 1000 meters (3,600 feet) above sea-level. Here on Widder Island we average out at 3 meters (9’10”), on a good day)

Knowing that we both wanted to get off the coast was the first step toward our ultimate ‘Wunder-Luster’ adventure … which is a perfect segue into …

… a bit of good news on the Wunder-Lusters front. Nothing spectacular, mind you, but it is forward movement. After a long hiatus we’re now able to get on with the renovations to our travel trailer. Parts and materials are becoming available, and if all goes well, we may even be able to have a bit of a pootle to a local campground and ‘road-test’ all the new bits.

Lussier Hot Springs – photo by Jim Clark. Pool hot, river cold, very cold!

Glaciers, Elkses,Vistas, and Hot Springs

“Every Winter the glacier grows about 25 meters. By the end of Summer it’s retreated 35 meters. In a few decades there’ll be nothing left but a lake.” So said our tour guide.

Such a loss seems incomprehensible to me. I’m standing on ice that is 50 meters thick. Ice that fell as snow on these mountains before humans ever walked upon this continent. Ice that in some parts of the glacier is 300 meters thick.

Athabasca Glacier - beyond awe inspiring

Athabasca Glacier – beyond awe inspiring

… I’m getting ahead of our adventures though. This is how it began.

As Widdercat reached official ‘ancient-hood’, she needed daily care, (or at least ¾ of the way around the clock care – in spite of all the pictures I’ve posted of her just sleeping) needed her routines intact, needed, us here. Which we unreservedly choose to do. After she died, we needed to get away for a while, have a real holiday, the kind where one spends several nights, away from home, doing touristy things.

Mrs Widds wanted to experience the Banff gondola, and I wanted to see a glacier, up close and personal.

We decided we’d camp (not that sort of camp. The sort that has tents and air mattresses and firewood) our way east until we hit the Columbia Valley, then veer north-east until we bumped into Banff. Stopping at any and all hot springs we could find, because the very afternoon we left our island here, I had an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to see how much longer I can keep these battered old knees of mine going. (With a very long needle he withdrew 40cc of synovial fluid from my left knee – there’s only supposed to be 2cc’s in there at any given time – and with another equally long needle, inserted copious quantities of cortisone into it)

Then we hit the road!

Sunrise across the valley

Sunrise across the valley

First campsite – first morning. We woke before dawn and watched the sun crawl down the rocks.

Our first hot spring. The real thing. Rock pools made with rocks, that got progressively cooler as they reached the river. Lussier Hot Springs  in Whiteswan Provincial park.

Lussier Hot Springs - photo by Jim Clark. Pool hot, river cold, very cold!

Lussier Hot Springs – photo by Jim Clark. Pool hot, river cold, very cold!

It got too cold for our ‘3 seasons’ camping gear, and my knees weren’t taking it well, so we repacked the car with all the camping gear at the bottom, booked ahead for a motel, and (via some more hot springs at Radium) carried on to Banff and Mrs Widds gondola trip to the top of a mountain!

Even now I can't believe I walked this path, with two bad knees and a cane!

Even now I can’t believe I walked this path, with two bad knees and a cane!

See that spaceship looking thing in the distance? That’s a kilometer and a total of 1000 stairs, (up and down, both ways) away. I trashed my knees walking it, but the view and the air at 2500 meters above sea level was exhilarating

Thank goodness there was another hot spring back at the base of the mountain!