To celebrate the first day of the [68-day-long] summer break, and the first full day of sunshine in recent history, we jumped in the rusty, leaky Venture and headed to Kananaskis.
I had visions of hiking around Rawson Lake but when I relayed my plans to the Kananaskis ranger, he looked at me and said: ‘there’s a meter of snow on the trail.’ And I thought about the occupants of the minivan and their various outfits and not one person was dressed for walking in snow. ‘Do you have any suggestions for a walk with three young boys,’ I asked. And then I thought that sounded strange – as though I was just driving around Kananaskis with young boys in my van. He paused for a moment, and I was about to add ‘they’re my boys’ when he said: ‘the hike to Troll Falls is nice.’
He kindly circled it on the map and we drove towards Nakiska, parked in the Stoney Trail parking lot and headed off on our [rather short, small-child-appropriate] hike.
The walk to the falls would take regular people walking at a regular pace less than 30 minutes, but courtesy of various two year old related malfunctions [throwing oneself down on the forest floor, begging for water, complaining about shoes, demanding to be carried and balking loudly when one’s ‘requests’ are denied] and various stops to look at butterflies and dandelions it felt like a rather long walk.
[I’m pretty sure the two older women who passed us on the way there were back in their cars eating sandwiches by the time we finally reached the waterfall.]
The Gort found a blue mini-Sharpie during our ‘ascent’. He picked it up, delighted with his newfound treasure, and spent the rest of the ‘hike’ with his eyes glued to the ground – determined to add to his collection: an American penny, elastic hair tie, ‘a Canadian flag little rubber thing’.
Eventually we made it to Troll Falls: a rather loud gush of water falling into the creek below. The boys were enthralled with the noise, and the mist spraying everywhere, so the professor helped all three of them scale the slippery incline towards a closer view.
On our way back to the car, the Gort considered the experience. ‘This was one of our best adventures, ever!’ he decided. ‘I know,’ I agreed,’ wasn’t it cool that you got to climb up there with dad?’ ‘Yeah,’ he dismissed my obvious assessment, ‘and I found a Sharpie – I never found a treasure like that before.’
Best day ever equals finding used Sharpie marker on a trail?
When we were less than ten minutes from the car, the professor glanced to his right. ‘Uh, that women is topless,’ he alerted me. I glanced, semi-discreetly in the same direction. I spied a man and a woman standing in the distance, but without the aid of my glasses, I could not make out much by the way of details. She could have been wearing a flesh-colored shirt for all I knew.
‘She’s airing out the trolls’, we laughed.
The 90 minute ‘stop-‘n-stroll’ wore us all out. Whether it was the overdose of Vitamin D, or the constant negotiation with the 8 and under set, there was a palpable malaise when we returned to the van.
I marveled at how rusty we had become in the art of ‘car trips’. The boys – who normally spend three entire days in the car this time of year – kept asking why we were driving for such a long time [after forty five minutes of driving?!] and could they watch a movie in the car next time we go on an adventure?
So instead of attempting a second hike, we spent the rest of our time driving through beautiful Kananaskis like tourists on a car-safari in some African wildlife park. But instead of giraffes and elephants, we contented ourselves with sightings of wolves, big-horn sheep, prairie dogs and a mama bear and her three cubs; holding our cameras to the car windows, snapping madly at whatever was before us.
‘Can we go home now,’ the Hen kept asking, eager to return to his Ouma’s iPad. Finally, at 3pm, I told him he could not repeat the question until the clock said 6:00. When it was 3:02, he announced ‘Just so you know, it’s 3.02!’ And when it was 3.04 and 3.07 he made similar announcements.
It was a long day.