Yesterday, I drove to Jasper and hiked Sulphur Skyline, a 7.5 Km hike with plenty of vertical. It’s a lot of driving for just a couple of hours of hiking, but as the hike is right by Miette, there’s hotsprings at the end.

I think probably Ailish and my third date was to the mountains for some hiking. We hiked up Whistlers Mountain, a trail that’s about 7 Km one way but with 1.25 Km of vertical. Pretty punishing, though you get to ride the gondola down. This date convinced Ailish that I was far fitter than she was. In truth, I had about 3% more energy left at the end, I was just able to take advantage of the breaks she called to catch my breath.

I had also taken up backpacking prior to meeting Ailish. That’s a somewhat crazy activity where you strap a 40 lb backpack to your back and walk into the backcountry. I liked it for the peace and quiet, as well as the physical challenge. Ailish, bless her heart, decided she had to see what this backpacking thing was all about and occasionally volunteered to come with me.

The problem was, Ailish was a rain god. Every single time we went backpacking, it rained. Generally, the rain would start 30 minutes before we started walking and end 30 minutes after we finished. I mean, the forecast could be for clear, sunny weather but if Ailish came along, she’d call the rain. One time, it actually started thundering before we could get the tent up. It’s actually quite scary being in a forest, on high ground, with thunder all around you.

One time, Chad and Ailish and I were hiking Jacques Lake, near Jasper. Not only did it rain for all 24 hours we were on the trail, but it was also quite cold. I remember after we set up our tents, there really wasn’t much to do other than to get into our sleeping bags. We were cold and tired and damp and it hadn’t been a very good day.

I had my iPod with me, so Ailish and I watched a science documentary called Connections. At one point, James Burke, the narrator, tells his audience to look around. How much of the technology surrounding us do we understand? We laughed and laughed. Sure, the iPod was technological, but nothing else around us was. Heck, there was nothing but trees for 13 Km. The fifty or so log bridges we had passed on our way in were the most cutting edge technology we had seen for hours.

Ailish never understood why I went backpacking. To her, it was a cold, damp, somewhat tiresome activity that had remarkably little beer. But she kept on trying. She kept on hoping maybe next time it wouldn’t rain, and she could figure out why I enjoyed it.

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