Language of the Valley

This blog entry about the events of Monday, July 01, 2013 was originally posted on July 09, 2013.

PART 3 (DAYS 5-8): “Wait, I haven’t nut myself yet,” I informed Leigh-Anne in the morning, in a very Arrested Development Tobias Fünke way. We were not in the sleeping quarters as you might think, but in the kitchen, where I had not yet put a spoonful of peanut butter in my bowl.

Breakfast was pretty genius. It was Leigh-Anne’s idea to make a camp version of satay noodles by simply making an instant ramen noodle pack with hot water, adding in its flavor and spicy oil pack, and then adding in a spoonful of peanut butter. Not only did it taste good, but it gave us an extra boost of protein and calories in the morning, before a day of hiking.

“Yo ho!” was our battle cry, full of breakfast energy — that is, when we set for the trails after my usual “8 a.m. appointment” with the outhouse (or any toilet for that matter when I’m regular).

We had two days of day hikes during our time in Yoho National Park: one loop from Little Yoho Valley to Twin Falls and back via the Whaleback, and one along the Iceline, just above the treeline and alpine meadows. Our first hike brought us across the rocky scramble known as the Marpole Connector, and beyond Marpole Lake to Twin Falls, named as such because there are two of them.

“I guess this is a good enough view,” Leigh-Anne said with her sharp sarcasm, as we sat by the falls for lunch.

“Eh, it’ll do,” I added. Eating salami, avocado, and Babybel cheese spread over a tortilla, it wasn’t long before I learned a phrase — perhaps only known by Canadians (or just Leigh-Anne and her family) — that is, “barking spiders,” for when you pass wind.

Pfffft!

“Barking spiders!”

This is not to be confused with “barking dogs,” as in, “Oh, my dogs are barking,” Leigh-Anne said near the end of a hike, as we took some switchbacks downward. “It means my feet hurt.”

Hikes up switchbacks to higher elevations brought us to spectacular views, like the one on the top of Twin Falls, along the edge of the rock formation known as the Whaleback. Fortunately, the Whaleback bridge, which had only been put in that morning via helicopter, was available for us to walk safely across the river up there. Otherwise, we would have had to chance going over the natural snow bridge — and I learned that walking through snowy patches (particularly on one along the Iceline route) could result in stepping into a loose area for your leg to sink in all the way through. Not exactly good if you’re using snow to cross a fast-moving hypothermic river.

“I guess this is a good enough view,” Leigh-Anne said as we sat for a snack on the Whaleback.

“It’ll do.”

The dripping waters of the nearby glacier amassed into the roaring river before us, and we were close enough to the source of the flowing water that Leigh-Anne deemed it safe enough to drink straight from the river. Hydrated, we pressed on, to more incredible views that blew my mind — especially since I knew we had made it up their ourselves on foot.

“This is awesome,” I raved. “I mean, look at it.”

“Well, it is rated one of the best day hikes in the Rockies,” Leigh-Anne told me. The view was new to both of us; she’d been dying to do this trek, so she too was seeing it with a fresh pair of eyes. Or rather, that’s the thing about mountains, no matter how much you’ve seen them — even living right near them — they never get old. Sort of like sunsets.

“Viola!” I announced when we finally got back to the hut after our first day. It’s not a typo; it’s pronounced as the string instrument — the way I suddenly remembered Kelly Bundy (Christina Applegate) ignorantly saying it on an old episode of Married with Children. It was a fitting voilà after hiking an excruciating last leg of 3 km. which basically gave us turets trying to find the fucking end of the trail in the fucking valley with our fucking hut, what the fuck.

In the end of our first day trekking, we chilled out in the Little Yoho Valley, and I mean that literally, since we took “river baths” in glacial water chilled enough to shock me out of breathing. That’s nothing a little maple whiskey couldn’t help out with, warming me up along with a night of cribbage (which I learned that night from Leigh-Anne and Jennifer, a currency trader from Canmore), and our “lasagna” dinner that tasted a lot like Chef Boyardee’s Beefaroni (before the fancy garnish we got from the mother/daughter quartet).

“FEELS A LOT LIGHTER THAN WHEN WE CAME UP,” Leigh-Anne noticed on her back when we repacked our bags to trek out of the park. We had eaten most of the food we’d brought up.

“Well, we ate and shit it all out,” I said.

“There’s got to be a more poetic way to say that.”

Hiking out of the Little Yoho Valley via the Iceline was another trying, but ultimately rewarding endeavour. There were mixed reports on whether or not to trek the Iceline, ranging from “totally miserable” (there was a possibility of water crossings that went up to your knees) to “totally worth it.” Following the lead of the mother/daughter quartet, we went for it, and ultimately with no regrets.

“This is pretty fucking incredible,” Leigh-Anne raved when we were on a break. Those were strong words for a former trail ambassador who’s been on many treks in the Canadian Rockies for years.

Views above the treeline revealed hidden peaks, milky blue glacial lakes, and water crossings that got our feet wet, but only up to our ankles when we found our way across through stepping stones. During the patches of snow, we had to simply follow in previous hikers’ footsteps, literally, to find the way.

And all of this was attainable by the energy of the satay noodles we had that morning, full of peanut buttery goodness — which not surprisingly, made its way onto the trail in the form of flavorful burps.

“Satay noodles,” Leigh-Anne said after one, with the taste in her mouth.

“Did you just nut in your mouth?” I asked. My belches came soon thereafter. “I just nut in my mouth.”

YOHO WAS BEHIND US, only to be replaced by a bottle of #YOLO Sauvignon Blanc, which Leigh-Anne found at a liquor store in Radium Hot Springs.

“I’m buying this on name alone!” (Why not? You Only Live Once.)

We chilled out with #YOLO and beers and recuperated from our nights of roughing it in the comforts of Invermere, BC, about an hour away, where Leigh-Anne had a timeshare condo stay waiting for us. Hot tub and pool time was followed by schnitzel dinners with beer at a local German-inspired restaurant.

The next morning, we drove through Kootenay National Park, which lead us through Banff National Park, and eventually back into downtown Calgary. As if on cue, a DJ on the radio announced that the state of emergency had just been lifted for the city, which meant things were finally back in some state of normalcy after the floods.

It was perfect timing, because Calgary Stampede was about to begin…






Next entry: Hell or High Water

Previous entry: The Wows of Canada Day




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Comments for “Language of the Valley”

  • Beautiful pictures!  I went to Yoho and Kootenay as a kid.  The camping satay noodles are pretty genius!  a little rooster sauce would put them over the top!

    Posted by Sara  on  07/13  at  04:11 PM


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This blog post is one of fifteen travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip: Cowboys, Duk-Duks, and Kiwis," which chronicled a five-week trip through the Canadian Rockies, followed by Calgary's Stampede rodeo festival, an assignment through different regions of Papua New Guinea, and a wintery jaunt to New Zealand's South island.

Next entry:
Hell or High Water

Previous entry:
The Wows of Canada Day




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