The forecast was for clearer skies in the mountains.
The rain followed us out of the city, into the foothills, across the Great Continental Divide all the way to our destination, Num-ti-Jah Lodge, nestled on the shores of Bow Lake.
At 6700 ft above sea level, spring lumbers into Num-ti-Jah with the speed of a glacier receding. The lake is still frozen, the ground still covered in snow.
It didn’t matter. Rain or shine, C.C. and I set off at the crack of noon on Saturday to spend a delightful long weekend surrounded by the majesty of the peaks and the warm hospitality of our dear friend, TW, owner of Num-ti-Jah, and his staff. We didn’t need the sun to feel content. Contentment surrounded us in every breath, every view, every conversation and morsel of food.
It is early season at Num-ti-Jah, yet, the Lodge was full, the guests animated as they wandered the halls or sat in the big chairs by the fire, reading or playing crib.
There is no TV at Num-ti-Jah (yeah!) (nor cell phone service either). On Sunday, C.C. desperately wanted to watch the Gold Match in the world hockey championships and I really wanted a hike. We drove up to Chateau Lake Louise and with C.C. happily ensconced in the pub, I set off on the trail to the Lake Agnes Tea House, or at least as close as the snowy conditions at the top of the trail would allow.
As I hiked, I gave thanks to my former husband for teaching me how to be safe in the Rockies. It’s never just a walk in the park. Weather in the peaks can be unpredictable. Anything can happen. You must always be prepared.
The trail at the lakeside was bare but as I climbed up through the trees, it became less and less easily passable and more and more slushy and ice covered. I wasn’t worried. I was wearing good sturdy hiking boots and had my rain jacket, water and snacks in my backpack.
It wasn’t the case for many of the people I met. From Keds as footwear to every day runners and one girl in a pair of short shorts and halter top and designer shoes, I passed an assortment of ill-equipped people all along the trail. Few had backpacks or water and most had inappropriate footwear for the time of year and trail conditions.
The saving grace was the trail was busy. If anything should go amiss, there was always someone just a few minutes away along the trail.
Hiking is a very in the moment of now endeavour. It’s important to watch where each footstep is planted, where each next step takes you. It offers lots of opportunity to pace yourself, to be present, to be aware of all your surroundings and to stop and breathe in the air, take in the views and simply feel the exhilaration of being alive.
It was bliss. it didn’t matter if the trail was busy or what others were wearing. What mattered to me was that I was there, present and aware, savouring each footstep, each breath, each glimpse of distant peak and wide open vista.
And when I returned to join C.C. in the pub, I got to celebrate Canada’s win and enjoy a perfectly chilled glass of Pinot Gris. We laughed and chatted and woo hooed with another couple who had watched the game with C.C. as Canada’s flag was raised and as we drove back to the lodge to read and nap and then join TW for a late dinner, we both felt the satisfaction that comes with time spent together, and apart, doing the things we love.
It was a perfect day in the Rockies. A perfect weekend retreat.