Apocalyptic insignificance.

Last night, Yann and I laced up our Nike Decades and headed up to Gonzales Hill Observatory with a flask of phenobarbital to catch a glimpse of NEOWISE before it disappears for the next 6000 years.

The observatory itself is an old weather station and is off-limits to the public; however, the Capital Regional District was kind enough to provide a park bench 20 metres away from the building.

Yann and I settled down on this bench as the sun sunk below the horizon. As usual, Sirius was the first to seep through the evening twilight, followed by the Grande Ourse, which is French for Big Bear, which how they refer to The Big Dipper. Or you’re in the UK, The Plough. Whatever it’s called, it’s the one constellation most Northern Hemispherians can identify. The Big Dipper was to direct us to NEOWISE’s position in the sky.

We sat in the darkness, shivering among the wind-warped Garry oak trees for an hour before scoping the dim smudge that is NEOWISE in the sky. It was expectedly anti-climactic, as we had long missed the window when it was the most brilliant.

Also, there was no flask of phenobarbital, and I wear Adidas kicks.

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It’s safer in the mountains.

At 11:59pm on December 31st, I stood behind Yann as he washed the dishes. I had Enfoiré in my arms and an eye on the range display, waiting for 12:00 to pop up. At midnight, I yelled Happy New Year at the back of Yann’s head.

The scene an hour earlier had been even grimmer: I was hunched over on the couch, trying to comb the mats out of my toque’s pompom, which had shrunk in the washer. (The entire thing shrunk, actually. I aimlessly restored a pompom on a now too-small toque. I should have known better than to put a toque in a washer. Fuck.)

Continue reading “It’s safer in the mountains.”

The peak of my summer.

“YANN!” I yelled from the top of a mountain.

I don’t like using my voice in public. The deaf accent is mocked globally. Imagine not getting to experience a part of yourself that the public gets to experience? Then the result of your efforts to accommodate others not only goes by unappreciated but gets ridiculed!

But it wasn’t the time to be insecure about my voice. I was near the top of Mount Albert Edward, alone, and without water. I had seen Yann just a few minutes earlier: he was busy massaging a water purification tablet into a Nalgene bottle filled with snow. He had also run out of water, and our solution was to thaw last season’s snow.

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Hiking El Chalten.

In El Chalten, there are 5 hikes that start from various points of town: Laguna de los Tres, Chorrillo de Salto, Laguna Torre, Loma del Pliegue Tumbado, and Laguna Toro.

ElChaltenMap

All buses going into El Chalten are required to make a stop at the Visitor’s Centre for an orientation from the park ranger. Instead of listening to the park ranger’s lecture–because I cannot hear–I sized-up the other adventurers. Judging by the brand names on their technical gear, they were mostly European, but I was able to pick out a few Canadians from the crowd. (MEC, Canada Goose, La Cordee, are all brands that are a more reliable way of identifying a traveller as Canadian than the maple leaf patch!) I could see several ropes, carabiners, and climbing shoes sticking out of some people’s packs.

Mélissa gave me an overview of the park ranger’s address. The ranger had emphasized how the weather was often unpredictable and advised us to be well prepared for these sudden changes. The map that was distributed to us denoted the sections of the trails that were to be avoided in high winds.

This was serious business.

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Le P’tit Train by nightfall.

In Montréal, we like to ignore the transitional period that is springtime. While crocuses symbolize spring in Vancouver, it was the reappearance of Bixi (public bike sharing system) docking stations that made me realize that winter was finally over.

Within a week of the installation of these bike docks, Montréalais emerge from their goose down cocoons wearing shorts, even when it’s only 10 degrees out. Summer’s too short to not wear shorts.

Our refusal to recognize spring means many of us prematurely dive into summertime activities. Last week’s hike in Parc national du Mont-Tremblant was a cold-blooded reminder that in the mountains there’s still snow. Lots of it.

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