pole to pole with ME

Monday, February 26, 2007

I finally made it out to the Elizabeth Parker hut near Lake O'Hara. Everybody has been raving about this place for as long as I've been in the Rockies. So many people list it as their favorite location - I figured that there must be something to it! It didn't disappoint.

Well, as you can see from the photo above, there was plenty of snow! Our group of seven skiers followed the 11 km road up to this alpine paradise, carrying all of our food, sleeping bags, extra clothing, and any other necessities in backpacks. I packed in a small flask of Scotch, for medicinal purposes only, of course... Our gang took about four hours to struggle up the trail, since we had a number of novice skiers and one complete first-timer along for the trip. I think that it's either brave or totally insane to strap on skis for the first time in your life and commit to a full-on excursion. Our newbie did very well, and hardly complained at all, despite the numerous falls he took while a whole bunch of girls stood around and giggled at him. (Way to go, Steve!)

The hut was cozy and warm when we arrived, thanks to some other folks who'd arrived ahead of our party & lit a cheerful fire. We cooked a leisurely supper, played some Scrabble, took a bit of medicine and snuggled into our sleeping bags in the small bunk hut next door.

Unfortunately for the people on the top bunk, our efforts to stoke up the fire before bedtime made the cabin into a sauna. The lower bunk was perfectly comfortable, though. Besides, we didn't want to have to re-start a fire in the middle of the night or wake up to icicles on our pillows. By about one in the morning the fire had died down to a couple of embers anyway and it started to get chilly. Thinking that we were doing everybody a favour, we spent about half an hour coaxing the fire to life again - not a popular move with the folks on the top bunk that were just starting to cool down. Oh, well. Boy, I'm glad that we have central heating these days, y'know? In a draughty cabin, it's really hard to find a comfortable temperature using a wood stove.

In the end we all got a bit of sleep & I was able to test out my shiny new down sleeping bag (thanks Lorne & Karen! That's what I got with the MEC gift card - love it!!!) See?

The trek back to the cars the next day was through an extra six inches or so of snow that had fallen overnight. It was a perfect alpine experience. So quiet up there, with big fluffy flakes of fresh powder sifting out of the sky. Can't wait to go back!

Lunch on the trail. We're perched on the top of a picnic table that's submerged in snow!


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