DAY HIKE TO HAMILTON LAKE AUGUST 8, 1971
It was about 10:00 a.m. when our party of 21 people arrived at Emerald Lake - a lake which undoubtedly owes its beauty to the colour of its water, the charm of its wooded shores and the majesty of its surrounding peaks: Emerald, President, Burgess and Wapta.
The day was warm and we welcomed the shaded trail which led us to Hamilton Lake. After a fairly steep climb, we were glad to stretch out on the grass by the lake and eat lunch. It took a little persuasion however to get Art Kam to do likewise. His usual generous self, he insisted on doing the rounds, blue knapsack in hand distributing his extra food among the group.
After lunch we separated into two groups. The first hiked up Emerald Peak from where they had outstanding views of the lake and lodge below. The second climbed up the scree slope to the west of Hamilton Lake. As we climbed higher, the wind become increasingly stronger and three of us decided to rest at that point, don sweaters and contemplate the magnificent panorama of Mountain ranges. The grandeur of the Mountains viewed from such an elevation (approx. 9,000 ft) made me think of the poet Byron and his "Childe Harold" and the verse where he remarks that "High mountains are a feeling, but the hum of human cities torture".
Meanwhile the more Intrepid members of our group were pressing on towards Carnarvon Peak. They were soon lost from sight, but we later picked them out sitting high up on a rock, probably debating whether to go on further or to turn back.
Soon however, they were up and off again and the three of us began to make our way down the scree. We rested in the alpine meadow, carpeted with familiar Indian Paintbrushes, Yellow Columbines, Anemones, Gaillardia and several other botanical specimens. At Hamilton Lake we waited for the others to return from Carnaryon. Four of them reached what we assumed was the peak, but they found there was a higher point further on, not visible from the lake, and which they decided not to attempt.
Back at the parking lot we discovered that some of the others had come down the avalanche slope on the Emerald Lake side and were now lazing in the shade, admiring the idyllic setting of the lake.
We had not proceeded very far from the lake on our way home when we noticed a line-up of cars along the road and soon the attraction was apparent - a bear cub could be seen ambling along by the edge of the road. Needless to say, we were excited as up to now we had seen moose, deer, marmots and squirrels, but no bears, so this black apparition had really made our day.
Quite spectacular was the drive back to Calgary on that particular evening. For once it wasn't raining as we passed through Canmore. The fields were green and peaceful with the last afternoon light of a perfect day shining radiantly on the rolling foothills.
It had been another enjoyable hike. The transcendent beauty of Emerald Lake nestling so peacefully at the foot of Mount Burgess is surely an unforgettable sight.
GOOD HEAVENS, ALASTAIR! - JANUARY 1972
(Thoughts of a X-country skier heading towards Edith Pass)
"Such a nice day. And everyone is ready on time. Hmm. Bill Leach is next. Don't know the face. Should have noticed the red hair. Down the road. Jingle bells; jingle bells. But I thought we were going to ------- Lake, Alastair! I don't want to go to Elk Lake again! My knees haven't recovered yet from the trip there last year. Atta girl, Daphne. You tell him! Oh, we're not going that way? Thank heavens.
Well, here we go. The one thing I like about X-country skiing is the waxing! Let me see, Daphne, what does the thermometer say? No, it's supposed to be in the snow, not on top! At least, that's where Wally Drew puts his ... I think. Oh well, let's take a guess. Shall use my "taffy" wax. Good Heavens, Alastair, why do you always look so efficient! My skis look like I've been walking in glue!
OK, OK, I'm coming. Art Davis. Jenny Tomlin, and Bill Leach sure have the edge over us (excuse the pun) on those downhill skis. Wow, this is icy. "Whunch! Can't even stand up. Wait for me! Now that's the idea, Daphne. Take them off, and walk over those ruts. No sense wrecking your skis. Good heavens, Alastair, do you really intend to ski on this stuff! You'll wear the base off on your first trip! Ridiculous. I can see myself falling down and walking up all these hills.
Putt, putt. Here I am, at the end, as usual. Those skins sure help you downhillers - but that's an awful lot of weight to plunk along. Thank heavens you're bringing up the rear, Art, or I'd seriously consider going back to the car. Can't negotiate the corners on this ice. Falling down may be safer, but it's colder. Good heavens, Alastair, this is foolish risking my life just for some exercise! Ah well, Art is still here with me, so I'11 keep going.
It does look as though the up hill has ended, but I don't know if I'd take off those skins, Art. Might be safer going downhill, too, even if the snow has softened up somewhat.
Ah, that's better. Even dare to get up a little speed. Say - that is downhill - and the ruts look a wee bit tricky. Think I'll walk down. Hey Art, why do you look out of control? Oh, you are, are you? Just-keep hanging in there! That's it, Bill, squeeze into the bank, or he may take you with him! Such courage!
Are you sure we should go over that snow bridge, Alastair? Don't worry, I won't stop in the middle! Well Daphne, one thing you must admit about X-country skis, you sure step out of them easily
Such a beautiful day! Think I'll go on ahead of you guys, and catch Al and Daphne. Too bad those skis keep sliding backwards, Jenny. Maybe skins would still be more efficient.
Ah. All alone with just the snow and sky. Good heavens, Alastair this is fantastic! The snow is soft; the hills are gentle; the sky is blue the sun is warm. I can see Alastair and Daphne now, and my stride is getting much better. This is really, living!
Good heavens, Alastair, please forgive all my nasty thoughts - and thank you for bringing us here.