“West to Waterton and beyond.” This phrase has been written on my fridge in colorful magnetic letters ever since I first visited Waterton Lakes National Park three years ago, and I have returned every year since.
Every time I return to this special piece of land it is spectacular in a different way. Being much more off the beaten path than Canada’s other mountain parks, it has a calmness and wilderness factor that makes for vastly different experiences every time. Unpredictable weather, abundant (and still wild!) wildlife, and diverse terrain make it a place that is unique and constantly changing.
This year, I was present to bear witness to the elusive moment where autumn meets winter. After a long day of scrambling and hiking mountain ridges high up above the clouds, my partner and I descended in the dark back to the road. Not even an hour after we got back to the beaten path, a swirling wind abruptly came up carrying winter’s first storm. We hunkered down in the shelter of our tent for the night, and this beautiful scene is what we woke up to the next morning.
At camp the temperature was hovering at a balmy 1 degree Celsius, so the snow melted and merely got us wet. But at just a slightly higher elevation the temperature was cool enough for the snow to linger, so that when the clouds cleared there was a beautiful gradient of autumn to winter visible on the treeline. It’s also a visceral reminder of the whole “for every 100 meters of elevation gained the temperature drops 0.5 degrees Celsius” rule of thumb.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians. I look forward to spending my weekend being thankful for so many things in my life in a cozy little cabin with my family. Whatever your Thanksgiving may look like, I hope that you find some peace and love too.