Late this afternoon I sat in my van reading my mail I’d just picked up at the post office in Exshaw. I was waiting for the CPR Holiday Train. I had a front row seat as there was nothing between me and the train tracks. Unfortunately, it was rather windy so it was easier to take a photo while inside the van. Click on the photo to enlarge the image. Hopefully next year I’ll do better.
It was a big shock not only to me, but also to many others when Mary Campbell took ill and died very suddenly in October. I first met Mary in 1967 in Calgary. She was part of the hostel group that I had joined. She had arrived in Calgary from London, England. That was the year she met Don Campbell who was also part of the group. (See Page 21 of my Ruthie’s Trails book.) Don was courting Mary that summer and they married the following year eventually having three children – Alison, Jocelyn and David – and later five grandchildren.
Mary and Don retired to Armstrong, B.C. about fifteen or so years ago. Mary’s death on October 18 really threw us all for a loop as she was always very healthy. This turned out to be some kind of blood infection. It was Don and Yvonne who had heart problems. The funeral was October 22, so the day before I drove to Armstrong and parked my van at Geoff & Yvonne Spedding’s home in Armstrong. I didn’t need a bed because my van is fitted out for camping year round. It was a very sad time. Geoff and Yvonne hosted some of their family and a very large group of hostel friends and their children and grandchildren dating back to those early days. It was wonderful to see these friends, but I found it difficult to not burst into tears as I tried to get my head around the loss of such a good friend. Fifty-one years is a long time.
When the Campbells and Speddings were still in Calgary four of us girls (?) would always get together every February or March to celebrate our birthdays although Mary’s birthday was in August. Once the two couples retired to Armstrong we all missed our birthday get togethers. Here we are: Jean Kensit and Mary standing and myself and Yvonne seated. That is myself and Mary in our cowgirl outfits in 1967.
My Wednesday afternoon hikes really do help me to enjoy life. Lately I’ve had a sore foot and haven’t been too ambitious. An obscure little trail called Wildlife Viewing Trail at Lac Des Arcs across the Bow Valley from Exshaw is really very special. It is a great place to view migrating birds. My little hiking group friends had never heard of it so recently I introduced them to it. It was a chilly and rainy day, but since the trail is in the trees we managed to get to all four bird blinds before the heavy rain came. This photo shows us bundled up at one of the bird blinds.
It is a long time since I’ve been up Wind Valley, but I found out recently that the trail had been repaired since the flood of 2013. It has four bridges and one amazing stepping stones section above a little creek. Check it out. You start from the Pigeon Mountain parking near Dead Man’s Flats.
Ten friends followed the Trail Boss up the Icefields Parkway to Jasper recently. We made a few stops along the way to enjoy the wonder of the Canadian Rockies – the most spectacular drive in Canada. We spent four days taking in some of the sights and hikes and enjoying great food. Parker Ridge Trail is always a huge highlight with marvelous flowers and the view of Saskatchewan Glacier and Mount Castleguard. (I had climbed it many years ago.) Three of the group took the boat ride on Maligne Lake to Spirit Island; the most photographed island in Jasper National Park, while the others wore themselves out hiking the Opal Hills Trail. The Maligne Canyon hike with breakfast at the Fifth Bridge picnic site were part of the itinerary, and Athabasca Falls and the three falls at Sunwapta were particularly awesome due to high water levels. The American dipper bird perched on a big rock on Utopia Creek delighted us as we hiked Utopia Pass Trail at Miette. All in all it was a terrific trip with super weather and great companions.
Click on the photos to enlarge them.
Shiloh is the most enthusiastic child I know who loves wild flowers. We had been talking about taking a walk to see the flowers for some time. Finally yesterday, together with three mothers and six children, we went to Bow Valley Provincial Park and walked Many Springs Trail and saw a lot of flowers. I just love the enthusiasm the children exhibited over identifying wild flowers. Munchkin botanists in the making.
Today Parks Canada and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada held an unveiling ceremony of a plaque in honour of the first youth hostel in Canada that was in Bragg Creek in 1933. I was lucky to be invited to attend. I go back 51 years with the hostel association as a member and as a hostel (houseparent) manager.
The people in this photo with the plaque have a long history with the hostel association too. On the left of the plaque are Sharon Kelly (nee McLennan), Tom Galeski, Lynda Galeski (nee McLennan). They often went to Ribbon Creek Hostel as teenagers when I was manager there as part of the Bragg Creek Junior Forest Wardens program. The program was run by Jackie McLennan, (now 87 with the big hat) and her late husband. Avril Derbyshire (in the light blue jacket) was the first houseparent (manager) of the new West Bragg Creek Hostel that was built by volunteers, but unfortunately burned down. The event today was an unexpected pleasure. It was wonderful to visit with Avril whom I rarely see, but still exchange Christmas cards with; to visit with Sharon whom I have not seen since she was a teenager, and Tom & Lynda who I do see two or three times a year. (They hiked the Chilkoot Trail with me in 2003). All these people live in Bragg Creek. The McLennan family have a long history of living in Bragg Creek. I was also privileged to meet Liz Ferguson of the hostel association in Edmonton and others.
While checking my emails the other day I didn’t recognize one of the senders, but the subject Hiking 1967 rang a bell. This is the story I received from Randy:
“In 1967, I had a summer job in Calgary. I met Hildo Hoek and he introduced me to mountain hiking with the Youth Hostel organization. I remember you on many of the weekend hikes. You had a car and I paid you the Youth Hostel rate of 1¢ per mile to get a ride. I think we were both neophytes in mountain hiking at that time. I see that the mountains became an important part of your life.
I came across your website while looking for something else, and thought “I recognize that name”. Even if you don’t remember me, you contributed to a great summer and my introduction to hiking in the mountains. Thank you.”
When I checked my book Ruthie’s Trails there on page 22 I found a photo of Randy and I and others on top of Castle Mountain (at that time it was called Mount Eisenhower) on a hostel group weekend trip. We have been chatting back and forth on the email now and in one of them Randy said “Without the rides that you and others offered that summer, I would never have been on those hikes. I had no car and not much money so I would have been stuck in Calgary. So there is the lesson of the day.”
Fifty-one years is a long time for someone to come out of the wood work, but it always amazes me that they do.
Here is Randy in 2010 on Sulphur Ridge above Miette Hot Springs. It is nice to know that he has continued hiking and the athletic life. Click to enlarge the photo.
Randy scanned this old photo of us on top of Castle Mountain in 1967. Randy is on the left. We have changed a lot since then, but we still love the mountains.
And here is me about the same time, 2011, at Honeymoon Lake in Jasper National Park.