This is one of my favorite hiking stories, and many of the paintings that I do come with a story of an adventure in the woods somewhere. My younger sister Helen and her husband Bob came out West from Ottawa for a holiday and they wanted to see some of the Rockies and do a little bit of hiking. Lana and I met them in Banff and the next day we started out on our first hike: the ‘Tea House’ trail from Lake Louise. It is a spectacular hike and a good one to start the trip, not too difficult or remote.
On our way back down from the hut the trail starts to parallel the river that comes down from the Virginia Glacier that feeds Lake Louise and I decided that I wanted to hike along the raging waters to get a different view and perhaps some interesting water scenes for my landscape painting ideas. This is when things went sideways.
When I hike I wander around alot looking for ideas for my compositions, so leaving the trail is commonplace for me and those who are used to hiking with me are used to my meandering ways. I always have a walkie-talkie on me and I give the other one to my hiking partner so we can stay in touch. Helen, I had forgot, does not like it when the group separates for any reason, I remember as kids she hated when we wanted to go in different directions in the Mall to meet up later, she always wanted us all to stay together. Well, she didn’t like the idea of me going off on my own, so she decided to come along. It got pretty thick and rough going off the trail and she started to get uncomfortable so I told her to go back.
I should have been very specific about what I wanted them to do. I am used to hiking with people, including Lana, who understand that when I wander off they just keep on going and I will catch up. Instead they waited for me on the trail. 10, 15, 20 minutes go by, I am not back. All this time I am taking photographs of great scenery and exploring some thrilling uncharted views of the glacier and tributary. I decide that I had better contact them to let them know I am taking a bit more time than I had anticipated; oops, no walkie-talkie in my pack, I had left it with Lana and it was in her backpack, turned off. By now Helen had gotten herself worked up and was calling me on her radio. I thought that I had better get going and catch up before they get too concerned, by now I had remembered my sister’s attitude about being separated.
I mistakenly assumed that they would be on their way back to the parking lot and so I followed the river down to the lake and then cut over to the trail to catch up. After I was on the trail for a few minutes I began to think they might be waiting back at the place where I had left them instead but by now I was half way between there and the parking lot and, either way, I was sure they were in a panic by now. I decided, mistakenly again, to go to the parking lot. I figured, that way, if they were not there I could rent a bicycle and ride back to meet them to save time – wrong again. They would not let me rent a bike to ride on the hiking trail.
I started jogging back down the trail. I met them a few minutes later on the trail along the side of the lake, they were headed back to the lodge in a tizzy determined to call a search and rescue team…
Suffice to say that I was not encouraged to wander off on my own on subsequent hikes and this episode would simply be referred to as ‘the incident’ for the rest of the trip.
The image on the left is one of the pictures of the raging waters that come down from the glacier. It was worth the effort to explore the area off the trail for stuff like this, my hiking companions might not agree.
The image on the right is one of the paintings that has come out of this little photo excursion, now you can understand why the title reads ‘Incidental Boulders’. I was captivated by the large rocks in the foreground of the landscape, but the ‘incident’ was foremost in my mind as I worked on the painting.
You can click on the images to enlarge and view them in full.
I will post another good story about Helen and Bob’s trip to the Rockies next time and how I got some great inspiration out of it, for my art of course.