I forget sometimes how privileged I am to live in Canada, and in a province like Alberta that abounds with natural beauty and splendor. I felt a prompting this Easter to take advantage of a four day long weekend to take a short trip to Jasper with a childhood friend of mine, Leon, who I haven’t seen in nearly 10 years. Leon recently moved back to Edmonton from Boston after finishing his dentistry studies. Boston is also the place where Leon met his eventual life partner and wife. Leon and I decided to travel to Jasper National Park for a short trip to do some light hiking at Maligne Lake (we had originally planned to hike Mt. Edith Cavell, but the trail was closed and our options were quite limited this weekend).
Normally, I race like a madman down the highway to get to Jasper from Edmonton (it’s nearly 4 hours point to point). But, this weekend, I took my time on the road. I’m glad I did. I had the chance to catch up with Leon and hear about all his stories from Boston University, his lovely wife and wedding in Korea, and his blossoming career as a talented periodontist. The weather, though, was simply wild out there! There was light snow the first half of the journey to Edson; then blowing snow and rain from Edson to Hinton. We thought at one point we should turn around. Visibility was close to zero. But, we had travelled so far already, we wanted to keep going. Then, a few minutes later, the sun broke through the clouds and the sky opened up. We had just passed the entrance to the park and knew it was going to be a good day.
Here are just a few photos that I took today while hiking along Maligne Lake Road. As you will see, there is still quite a bit of snow out there on the lake itself, and the trails overall were quite slippery. But, we didn’t care so much as the sun shone down on us for what seemed like the whole afternoon. Taking in the crisp, fresh mountain air was entirely nourishing, indeed rejuvenating. At one point, a light snow fell down on us. In that moment, I felt a humbling awareness of both my physical surroundings and my breath. The two were in sync.
As I walked the trail, I could not help but be drawn to Thoreau’s invocation of a Chinese inscription cited in Walden:
Renew thyself completely each day; do it again, and again, and forever again.
On our way out of town, we took these pictures of several large bighorn sheep who had chosen to lounge along the highway earlier in the morning.
I am glad that I jumped on the opportunity to get out of town to Jasper and re-charge the batteries. But I’m so much more grateful – and mindful – that it was a particularly splendid day as I had the chance to share it with a childhood friend who I’ve missed dearly over the years.
I hope that this Easter surrounds you with an abundance of love, happiness and hope.
p.s. I must admit too I may have developed a bona fides interest in amateur photography and hope to pursue this in greater depth going forward.