Learning From My Home
Ah, yes, it’s the time again: back to school for the kids.
For me, it’s bittersweet. After being able to spend the summer months with them every day, I miss having them around. But in the same breath, how refreshing is it to have a new routine and motivation to begin a new year of school.
I remember the days of being in grade school. The first day was the most exciting. I couldn’t wait to reunite with my friends, wear my new clothes, meet my teacher, and look forward to being one year closer to graduation day!
Learning is such a huge part of life. From baby to adult, our whole experience is flooded with information. It keeps our brains working, and allows us to absorb lessons that teach us to be, really, whoever it is we want to be.
I love the fact that now, at this time in my life, I can pick and choose what it is that I want to pursue.
I just had an amazing new experience in which I was completely and totally out of my element. My husband surprised me with a two day helicopter trip up to Bobby Burns Lodge. Initially was I scared out of my skin. I had never been in a helicopter, and the thoughts I had about it were quite fearful. The biggest thing was it was something I had never done, so I didn’t know what to expect.
It starts with a helicopter ride up to the lodge. Guests stay in a beautiful lodge, with amazing staff, five-star meals, and can live quite comfortably for the next couple of days. But, that wasn’t all. Each day you stay, you go hiking. I love hiking, which is something I have recently learned about myself. If you know me well, you know that I love my walks in the woods. To be way up high in the mountains is just so surreal.
First of all, the temperatures at the top of the mountain are a lot colder than the ones down in the valley. I learned to dress three times warmer than I would have expected to. At the end of the day dropping back down to the lodge the air was about 10 degrees warmer. I also learned why there is a sauna and hot tub waiting for you when you get back from your hike.
Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH), which is the company, transports you by helicopter up to the mountain tops, drops you off with a lunch, and leaves you to explore with a guide. On our hikes, I was taught about all the different kinds of alpine flowers. They are totally different from valley flowers, and quite beautiful. I can’t remember all of the names except one type, which was called hippie heads. They looked like the trees from the movie The Lorax. The ground reminded me of what it would look like underwater. It was soft in some places, but not actually muddy, almost mattress-like. The plants looked like seaweed, there was a lot of ground crawler types of plants, but not really any actual grass.
The lakes are mostly glacier fed. The question of fish came up into the conversation. There was one lake we came across that they thought might have had fish in it. But as for the other ones, a very fine dust-like clay called silt, lays on the water, which does not allow the fish to live as it would plug up their gills. The silt comes off the glacier from the wind and constant erosion. It is a silky soft, cream-coloured clay.
There are different types of animals that we don’t see in the lower valley. The marmot (looks like a mixture between a giant squirrel and beaver) lives in the rocks and makes its homes in the boulders. This protects them from the grizzly bears. As for the ground squirrel (a.k.a a gopher), they are not quite as smart as the marmot, they tunnel in the soft ground. The grizzly bear will dig huge holes in the soil to retrieve the gopher.
A grizzly bear eats about 15 – 20 thousand calories a day! Insane, isn’t it? They love huckleberries, which are everywhere up there (I ate many on my hike), it is one of the main sources for their diet. They also eat the bulb of a flower called the glacier lily. Along with ants, bugs, and small rodents. We did not see a grizzly on our hike, thankfully.But, I learned a lot about them, how they live, hibernate, and mother their young. It was quite interesting.
We also learned about the mountain goat! They live at the highest altitude out of all the animals – way up at the tippy-tops of the mountain, where there are fewer predators. The young animals can be taken away by mountain lions (cougars) or bald eagles. Mountain goat feet are split into two parts. Hard on the top and sides, but soft and like a suction cup on the bottoms. This allows them to kind of stick to the rock, and balance on very small surfaces. They eat this green algae plant that grows on the rock since there isn’t much of a food source that high up.
What an incredible experience! I learned that helicopter rides aren’t too scary (unless you’re flying directly off the face of a mountain, and that’s when I cover my eyes with my tuque). I learned that hiking and exploring the mountains is something that I absolutely love doing, and I will spend a lot more time doing it in the future. Earplugs are very important for riding the helicopter, and also for bedtime when your husband is dead tired. Hiking is an activity for me, but mountaineering is certainly not. Which is what Brady (my husband) decided to participate in . This involves climbing vertical rock faces, and walking across 60 feet long suspended bridges 350 feet in the air. Absolutely not for me!
I learned that stepping out of my comfort zone, even if I’m quite unsure, always has its opportunities to teach me something new about the world around me, and also about myself.