Super Bike Ride-Jasper, Alberta– And, Conversation In Thin Air Begins

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Biking A Natural Valley With Mountains Rising Huge On Both Sides-A Super Ride

Jasper National Park, Alberta

July 7, ‘80

The train ride was great! After leaving Smithers, the countryside leveled out some. Looking at the pouring rain from my warm, dry seat on the train was a redemptive experience all by itself. Every so often the train would pass an attempt at a farm. Homesteading had to be difficult anywhere, but in the northern Canadian wilderness it had to be painfully difficult. At least that was the consensus of opinion that the girl I met on the train and I came up with after our first beer together. She was both pretty, and interesting to talk too.

I met Jean while watching the scenery pass from the bar car. She happened to fall into the seat next to me. Lucky for me, the seat was empty. She was from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and she had her own story about homesteading. She was returning from a visit with her three girlfriends who were homesteading a piece of land on the coast. They had lived in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere for the last three years. The girls supported themselves by working the land—barely. Things were falling apart, though. When Jean left, one of the girls called it quits, and returned to her parents’ home in Vancouver. There were only two girls left to do the work of three, but it was even worse than that because, according to Jean, the girl that left did the most of the work. She didn’t hold out much hope for the two that remained. I told her that all social experiments had that problem, the problem of unequal distribution of labor, and before we had finished our beer, we both agreed that guts, sweat, and a short life had to be the watchwords for anybody thinking about homesteading. Maybe it was the booze, or maybe it wasn’t, but Jean talked as if she was seriously thinking about joining the duo. Leaving her job and friends behind was, for her, the most difficult part though.

There were quite a few college age kids in the bar car, and everybody was having a pretty good time. All there was to do was look out at the falling rain and drink beer. Before Jean went back to her friends, she invited me to visit her in Saskatoon. That was a little out of the way for me, but you never say no to a pretty girl. She was a waitress at a steak house, and she promised me a beer if I showed up. I told her we had a date.

It was cold when I got off the train in Jasper. Fortunately, I found a place to get hot coffee and donut. By 6 a.m. I was headed south. Before sunrise I had already taken a couple pictures of a deer and an elk; that is, when I realized I had forgot to buy film. It would be awhile before I could buy more. I had four shots left. The mountains were very large and beautiful, and the road ran straight down a natural valley with mountains rising high on both sides—a super bicycle ride. Off and on throughout the day, clouds covered the peaks, and a few raindrops fell, but not enough to dampen my spirits. By late afternoon the sky had cleared and the sun was everywhere.

I was up pretty high in the mountains and by nightfall I arrived at a youth hostel. Most of the beds were empty. It was a beautiful spot; more or less perched on the mountain pass. The only problem was that the cold climbed with the elevation. At the youth hostel, I met Peter. He was planning a hike into the backcountry and he asked me if I would accompany him. I didn’t have the equipment for that kind of hiking, but Peter’s energy was contagious. I told him “Sure, lets do it.” We would leave tomorrow and make a two or three-day hike out of it.

Zodiac People Answer Yes When Asked If Their Personality And Sun Sign Match

Mountain Heights, Jasper Park

Conversation In Thin Air Begins

July 8, ‘80

With my sleeping bag and a fully loaded bike pannier tied to opposite ends of the pole that I carried across my shoulders, Peter and I began our hike into the backcountry. I left my bike at the hostel. We were already pretty high up, so we didn’t have the typical climbing day that began most backcountry hikes. Peter was excited. He told me that the mountains were higher than the ones he had climbed back in Germany, where he was from. He turned out to be a good traveling companion with an unshakable positive disposition. Well, it was almost unshakable. But before I get into that story, I want to at least mention the dream I had on the first night out camping. My old girlfriend, Carin, came back into my life in that dream.

The dream was notable because it was a nightmare. My relationship with Carin was made possible because it was only meant to last a moment, a night, or a week. It was not meant to last the almost two years that we were together. Still, it ended as if it never had happened, and that was the nightmare. That level of relationship was nightmarish even in a dream. When I awoke I had a queasy stomach. I haven’t seen Carin in almost a year, and although I have never thought of her in a bad way, I absolutely know for sure I will never again engage in a relationship like that one. That would be insane.

It was on the trail, in late afternoon, on the second day of hiking, when Peter and I met the three sweating backpackers co
ming towards us. They were exhausted. It was, for them, the first day of a ten-day hike, and they had prepared themselves well. That was the problem. On their backs they were carrying 70 or 80 lbs of equipment and supplies. After Peter and I satisfied their concerns about the upcoming trail—a lot of down hill and a beautiful stream to follow (we had just crossed over
Nigel Pass), the three University of Kentucky professors suggested that we all spend the evening together. By that time Peter and I had pretty much eaten all of their pickled bologna. It would have been impolite not to accept their offer. And, besides, these guys wanted to lighten their loads. It was mainly crackers and jelly until we returned to civilization for Peter and I, so there was really no decision to be made.

After finding a good place to make camp, the two of us, along with Tony, the Physics Professor, took off to climb one of the surrounding peaks. We were looking for a good place to watch the sunset and we weren’t disappointed. The sunset turned into an orange and yellow hued mountaintop spectacular, and things only got better after that. Back at camp, after eating our fill of Stan’s delicious stew, Noel, the Philosophy Professor, pulled a fifth of Crown Royal from his backpack. I wasn’t a big whiskey fan, especially straight from the bottle, but on that night, high in the mountains, sitting around a blazing campfire, and exhausted from a hard day of hiking, the whiskey was duly appreciated. In fact, we were all about to fall asleep when Tony pointed out the constellation, Draco. That reinvigorated the group, especially Peter, who, apparently, had an intellectual investment in the workings of the zodiac. When Tony began to treat the whole “zodiac thing” with disrespect, Peter got angry.

“You see,” said Tony, “identifying personality traits with the constellations is just plain stupid. The movement of the earth around the sun, and the movement of our solar system within the plane of the Milky Way galaxy, reconfigured the location of the stars relative to the observer on earth. A Greek born under the sign of Virgo in 300 BCE, today is born under the sign of Leo. Over a period of 2500 years the constellations have retrograded an entire sign. Astrologers do not take into consideration the changing plane of the rotating earth. A Leo is still a Leo to the astrologer, even though the Virgo of yesterday has become the Leo of today, and the Leo of tomorrow will become a Capricorn in the future. Change is pervasive. That’s just the way the universe operates.”

“You’ve got your signs out of order,” said Peter.

“Yeah, I probably do; but you still know what I mean,” responded Tony.

“Well maybe you’re wrong! How do you know that anyway?” said Peter. “If that’s the case, if everything changes anyway, maybe some day the zodiac will find its way back to where its suppose to be, to its original path above the earth.”

“You’re not following what I’m saying, “ replied Tony, “what about the in-between time?”

“Isn’t the first law of physics the one that ties theory to evidence?” Peter shot back. “If that’s the case, then how do you explain the fact that zodiac people almost always answer in the affirmative when they’re asked if their sun sign fits the description of their personality?”

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2 Responses to “Super Bike Ride-Jasper, Alberta– And, Conversation In Thin Air Begins”

  1. wings Says:

    Well one of the things that is interesting to me is when astrological “forecasts” line up with other types of psychic/spiritual forecasts and descriptions. Which they tend to. The explanation isn’t nearly as important as the quality of the wondering. Dear Tony has altogether too many answers and not enough questions. And what was the bear count up there anyways? See any bears? grinning

  2. dave Says:

    No bears on this trip, but in Waterton Park, a few years earlier, I had this encounter with an irritable Grizzly….The bear had followed the same streambed, and would pass ten or twenty yards from my tree. I could hear him coming. When he got real close, he let out another horrendous roar. After I heard what sounded like a bear sending my pots and pans into orbit, there was another huge roar. I was waiting for the bear to enter my campsite, but he didn’t. He stayed down at the stream. Thanks for the comment.

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