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Top of the World!!

     My heart is light, my soul is free. My eyes are open and the future is bright. Such is the effect that spending 2 days in the mountains with another person that shares ones passion for horses. I know you will enjoy the pictures here, and I hope you enjoy the story and that one day you will be as fortunate as I to have such a heart warming experience.

Two Days in Heaven!

        This story actually starts with the Quebec Trip . For it was through Marie Claude and Bernard that I met Luc. They advised me that it had been Luc's life long dream to go riding in the Rocky Mountains. And he did, and he loved it, and he says he is coming back next year!

As you will read in the "France Story" , I was delayed in my flight home. Luc was to arrive on Thursday and they told me that I could not be home until Saturday. After 48 hours of travelling I finally made it home on time for Luc to fulfill his lifelong dream, to ride in the Rocky Mountains. Above is (left to right) Luc, myself, Ida, Reidun and Marco. This is on our way home from the airport. They picked me up in Calgary (after we spent 2 hours looking for each other!)

We took Daisy and Charmer, two awesome Curlies. Both were FANTASTIC for the entire trip. Was the first time for both horses in the mountains, and true to Curly character they took on every challenge that we faced them with. And trust me, they were challenged. We climbed some trails that were about a 70 degree pitch. A couple of times it was so steep we dismounted to lead the horses. One thing I know for certain - horses climb a heck of alot better than I do!! I love riding Daisy on the trails. She did not disappoint me once. Took the lead at any pace and climbed everything I put her to. She did her normal "I'm spooky dance" when I first mounted her every morning and then settled right in. Luc was SUPER impressed with Charmer. He said I should never sell him and keep him for my main mount. Charmer was steady as a rock and only "spook looked" at some big rocks along the trail. Never once jumped or got nervous. Luc rode him so well. The two of them looked like they had been together for years.
These pictures are on our way up the big mountain. Our camp is in the top left of the top left picture.

This picture pretty much sums up the entire weekend. It was taken close to the top of the mountain. We stopped for a break and Luc saw 3 Elk. Luc and I both run very hectic schedules and it was awesome to be able to relax for two days. We both needed it and enjoyed every minute to the fullest.
When we first arrived in the mountains it was about 9 PM. Luc was amazed that by 10:30 it was still light enough to see. That evening we took a walk to the water falls and it was still light enough to see at 11:30.


Here is Luc giving Charmers legs a rub down. I was very impressed with his attention and care to the horses. First time for me to trail with someone who put so much love into the trip. This was a huge trip for him. Every time we came to a clearing on the way up he would stop and gaze in wonder. I know he enjoyed the trip thoroughly. The second picture is beside a large crevice that we came across. The contrast in the rock and trees and grass is very picturesque.


Snow the last week of June!


Was priceless when Luc saw the snow. He had to get a picture of his horse standing in the snow. Was about 19 degrees at camp and about 15 degrees at the top. Perfect riding weather. Just a bit overcast, so not too hot, no BUGS!, we could not have asked for anything to be better. Great horses and the best company. And to have all this and be riding in one of Gods greatest creations was (as Luc said) "the gravy!".


I was quite surprised that we only saw one Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep on our journey. Normally they are all over. This little fellow thought that Charmer was his mom. He followed Luc and Charmer all over the place! Right up to the top of the mountain!

We did see a ton of Elk though. All of the cows and their calves were in the valley and a number of times we saw 30 head together. Once they even walked straight towards us! Was amazing. The bulls were all up top and we saw some on two occasions.

Top of the World!

Here we are only 50 feet from the top of the world! You can certainly see in this picture the degree of the slope to the top of the mountain. When we were down in the valley and I pointed to this mountain and told Luc "tomorrow morning we will be on top of there!" he could not believe it. He kept asking me "really?!" My French is pretty rusty and so was Luc’s English so he was not certain that he understood me. But by noon the next day he knew for certain that I meant it!


Look at the view!!! Was breathtaking. Was awesome. Was like being in heaven. The above top left picture has our mountain goat friend following along. Was like he was lost and looking for company from the horses



The flowers on top of the mountains always intrigue me. They are so petite, colorful and perfect. With such a short growing season they are also very hardy. It is god’s bouquet of floral glory when you stop and study the different plants.



The first picture is Luc on top of the mountain, and the last is the peak that we climbed to. When you sit on top of this mountain and feel the fresh mountain wind against your face, smell the wild flowers, see the view before you and feel the energy and strength of you horse, you truly are in heaven on earth. It cannot be better than this in heaven. As Luc said many times "C'est la Vie", this is life. This is what it really is all about.


Tucked back along the Banff National Park border is an outfitter named Tim! He has the most gorgeous mules that I have ever seen. We happened upon him as he was heading into town with his team and he insisted that we carry on into camp and help ourselves to some hot coffee and home made cookies! You only find this hospitality back in this environment!! He has built everything from logs and you feel you have gone back a 100 years in time.

Love this sign!!! It's at Tim's gate entrance.

More pictures

At the top of the mountains is where the bull Elk are this time of year. We only saw a half dozen bulls, but boy did a couple of them have racks! We sat and watched three bulls for over an hour, marveling in their majestic carriage.


The second picture above is looking South along the top ridge of the mountain. The peak is where the pictures were taken looking back down on camp. I was very impressed with Daisy for her first trip to the mountains. Normally horses will get excited when they first smell the Elk. Daisy never missed a beat. Even when the herd of cows and their calves came trotting up the hill towards us!


There was one heck of a drop over the side of this rock ridge. I could not ride my horse along it. Felt like I was going to fall over the lip! But it sure was something to see. It took us 45 minutes to find this ridge. Luc saw it on the way up and was determined to go and check it out. It was worth the detour!


I really like the second picture above. This is overlooking the valley and right along the rock bluff that drops down about 1,000 feet. This was on our way back down the mountain. Although there was one spot that we dismounted to climb up, on the way back down both horses set themselves perfectly and we were able to stay mounted for the complete decline.


Cowboy Siesta time! This is where I told Luc to "push, push, push!!" We had to laugh as this is what he tells Marie-Claude all the time! I got him Marie-Claude!! Can you tell from the second picture just how steep it is up there? It is so hard to tell in pictures.


How many times can you say in one story "beautiful"?? The rock bluff here was a real gorge. There were little avalanches all around it. Look at the tree on the left. It is so wind blown that it is growing to the East! Pretty rugged country, which makes it so grande. You could see over the sides where the mountain sheep actually climb up and down this rock face. Amazing!


This is another canyon that leads up to the water fall. It is very sharp and impossible to cross, except just before the water fall. The walls look like somebody cut them with a knife. Wouldn’t want to hit this at a flat out gallop, it just drops away and is really in the middle of the field.


The start of the water fall. It is split in two and you would not think that this fall is there while you stand in the river and let your horse drink. Luc is on the far side of the river in the first pic. There is so much noise from the falls you can hardly hear yourself think. Perfect place to clear your head!



I just love this place. Can you tell?? You cannot think about anything waiting for you back home when you ride here. You just relax and go along for the ride. Following your heart and absorbing everything that God has created. It is soul enriching to be able to enjoy these wonders. The bottom left picture is the head of the water falls from the top.


Yes, there is a story here. I brought along two juicy T-bone steaks for super. Promised Luc I would feed him well! No barbecue! No grill! No way to cook the steaks!! "No problem!" says Luc. In only 5 minutes he has a ragging fire going (real boyscout here!) He grabs some clothes hangers from the camper and builds a grille! Stooks up some rocks around the fire, lays some logs and proceeds to cook our supper! He was either very proficient or very hungry!



The camp area is very accommodating. Lots of stalls to tie the horses (cannot tie to trees in the park) with rubber mats and feed bunks. The creek runs along one side of the camp and the river along the other. Luc was up every morning feeding and taking the horses to water.


I love watching water. I am fascinated by it. I took about 30 pictures of the water over the rocks but won’t bore you here with them all. This is the canyon leading up to the water falls. This is a gorgeous walk.


We thought we could follow the edge of the rock wall up to the falls but came to a very abrupt drop. Decided we could go up and around, but this was impossible as the drop further up was not desendable. So we went back down and Luc found a "path" along the lower edge. It was a path if you were a mountain goat! But we made it and only got our toes wet.


I was waiting for Luc to find a path along the bottom, and he did. It is quite the hike up to the top here, very slippery and lots of little avalanches happening while you are climbing. I did not want to go back down if I had to go back up!! You can see how impassable the wall was further along the river.


And finally the water falls! Luc was so thrilled to be here that he HAD to walk across the bottom. CRAZY!! That water is straight from the glaciers atop the mountains. Not for me! I spent my time investigating the rocks. Found lots of fossils, shale so thin it was like paper and such fascinating shapes of granite. Looked like a mason had cut them all.

Grudgingly we headed back to camp and prepared to leave at 6 PM. We only drove about 10 minutes and the spring on the trailer blew! Tire blew! We were 1 ˝ hours from the closest town on a Sunday night. Luc had to be at the airport for 11 AM the next morning! Panic city! I must thank Ross, proprietor from the Mountaine Aire Lodge for his pity on me!! He changed the tire and let me take all the tools I needed to get out of there. And Jesse Fowler’s father for binding up my axle (twice!) to allow us to limp home. Had it not been for these fine gentlemen we might still be there (good thing/bad thing??) and I wish to thank them VERY much!! We arrived back at the stables at 6:30 in the morning! Everyone at the stables was up by the time we got the horses unloaded so we basically headed off to the airport!