The Road to Heaven Isn’t Paved

The Road to Heaven

I read that in an outdoor magazine at G’s place. 

Two days of glorious hiking in two very different topographies.  The Fair Weather Goddess smiled favourably upon us.  I had the right combination of layers and gear, a hearty lunch and ample water in my ersatz pack – my “go anywhere” MEC travel bag – and the companionship of G and her hiking buddies, a welcoming and accomplished lot, both on and off the trails.  Just being with them was another lesson in “what next” as most are in the “autumn” of their lives, now having the resources of time and vitality to enjoy the fruits of their earlier labors.

Our first destination: Rawson Lake in Kananaskis Country.  A gentle grade through wooded and stony shoreline to a backdrop of Mount Sarrail and a snow and ice pack traversed by two barely visible mountain goats. 

To our right, a ridge overlooking Upper Kananaskis Lake and the “in” range of mountains: Indefatigable, Invincible.  Earlier in the morning, we saw a grizzly sow and her cubs cavorting in its meadows, closer evidence of their cautioned presence along the trail where they had recently dug up squirrel dens looking for breakfast.  

After lunch and a brief pen sketch of the lake and mountains, six of our group made the rigorous steep climb along a dry creek bed and through the willow to touch Heaven.  The inevitable descent proved almost as challenging with a steep and dry “ball bearing” surface.  Grateful for my poles, ever more so for my boots and knees that painlessly traversed across, back and forth, and then for the “spa” restorative of icy lake waters on our hot and weary feet. 

We did it all again the next day by boarding a bus at Banff’s Sunshine Village loaded with weekend warriors and backpacking families.  Driving up the mountain to the lodge meant we were starting with some good altitude. 

Our party of five crossed through familiar winter ski runs and headed across to WaWa Ridge, where we climbed shale and scree to see the cairns and weather stations spotted from afar. 

After sharing another one of G’s delicious lunches, protected from the big winds blowing big weather into Canmore, we walked the Citadel Pass through open vistas and alpine meadows to Rock Isle Lake, looping back to the promise of a beer on the lodge deck.

Fierce freedom won through skillful means, a vital physical presence and loving kindness

For the gracious spaciousness of open vistas, turning tamaracks, big wind and sky

The boldness of Nature, Bears, and Mountains stretching firm and stable… a timeless open heart, strong back

Life needing to Live

Tradition transformed to new, now

Natural elegance


About Katharine Weinmann

living and leading with courage, clarity, compassion and creativity
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2 Responses to The Road to Heaven Isn’t Paved

  1. I have finally sat down with a cup of tea to peruse your website and read your posts – I am so enjoying them, Katharine. I could comment on every single one (and just might), but this one is especially poignant for me because we spent so much time hiking and camping in Kananaskis as a family when I was young. Rawson Lake and Mount Indefatiguable are favourites, and Blair and I, along with some friends, had the incredible experience of coming upon a terrifyingly beautiful black bear on the trail one year…your eloquent descriptions and pictures take me right back there! Thank you! (And thank you for visiting my blog as well – what a lovely surprise!)

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