I don’t remember whose idea it first was, but all three of us agreed it was a good one. We picked three days between when we finished our final exams and started our summer jobs, and planned to head to Jasper to celebrate the end of our first year of university.
Then it snowed. A lot. I stood in the Husky gas station where I worked as a cashier, looking out at the four inches of snow blanketing the town, and talking for about two hours with my friends about whether or not we should still go and if we did, where we should stay.
I wanted to camp. They wanted a motel. We finally compromised: first night in the motel, second night in the tent. One of my friends told her parents exactly what we were doing; my other friend told her parents we were staying in a motel, because if she told them we were camping, they’d worry about her; and I told my parents we were camping, because if I told them we were staying in a motel, they’d call us wimps. (They all laughed at us when we finally told them what we were really doing.)
When we arrived in Jasper, the park office presented us with a third option by giving us a listing of bed & breakfasts. We were unable to get a hold of any of the hosts, however; so we headed out to hike a trail. After a year of sitting at my desk studying, I was gung-ho to get moving. My friends were a little less so. Particularly after we’d been hiking for quite a while without any sign of the lookout that we were heading for. I kept insisting that it was just around the next corner. Finally, they convinced that we were all getting tired and still had to find a B&B, so we turned around and headed back. Later, when I talked to my mom about it, I found out we weren’t even on the right trail in the first place.
We were sitting at a pay phone with all the change that we could come up with, trying to call B&Bs, when a lady walked up to say that she had one. We quickly looked her up on the list, nodded to each other that her place met all of our criteria, and followed her back there. We cooked our supper, watched some American Idol, and tucked in for the night. However, the guests in the suite upstairs spent the night partying—though I only knew about it because my friends told me about it the next morning when I woke up. They hadn’t gotten any sleep.
We decided to drive out to the Columbia Icefields so that they could sleep while I drove. The rest of the trip passed fairly uneventfully. We took some great pictures, had some good laughs, and got to know each other better. They still laugh at how soundly I can sleep, and I learned to better match the trails with the people I’m hiking with.
Since that year, our Jasper trip has become an annual event. Usually only five or six of our group of eight friends can make it, because it’s so hard to coordinate schedules.
This last weekend, five of us made the trip. I drove up from my grandparents’ place with Sunshine to meet them at the Columbia Icefields and then head on to Jasper. It was great to catch up on all the news—an engagement, who’s moving, new jobs, grad school plans, etc. They had fun playing with Sunshine, and I enjoyed having four babysitters there anytime I needed to tie my shoe, eat, take a picture… We laughed again over that first trip six years ago. Then, we were all university students; now, we’re finding jobs, getting married, and moving around the province.
So I am back once again, with a camera full of pictures, lots of good memories, and a feeling of being refreshed. ‘Till next year, girls!