July 18

Photo caption: from the top of Ha Ling Peak, my index finger points directly at our house. On the right side of the photo, what looks like a superhighway coming down from the mountains is actually the washout from Cougar Creek in Canmore. If you are Canadian you know about this flooding, if not, you could check it out. There is currently no water at all in Cougar Creek. 

Although it had been light for three hours, it still seemed like the first breath of dawn when we parked the car at the trailhead this morning. There were four of us-- the two brothers and their wives-- and we had left the house with only two of the five children awake to see us off. As the bright morning rays began to creep over the mountaintops, we were off on the short drive up the mountainside to park at the base of the Ha Ling mountain trail.
Our ascent began in the most magnificent pine forest. The ground was covered with thick, green moss and the trees dripped with mint-green strings. It was so lush and alive and the dirt beneath our boots was dark and rich. We began to climb immediately-- the average grade on this hike being 30%.  It wasn’t long before the dirt changed over to hard rock and the trail began to switchback up the mountainside. The pine continued to shield most of our view, but in the snippets of vista we caught we could see a moose feeding in a small mountain pond below us. It was completely silent. We were the only ones on the mountain. 
Nearly two hours into the walk the trees left us completely. The last kilometer of our hike was scrabbling over the rocks up to what was truly, truly a peak. For a while only sky was silhouetted behind it, but then as I reached the top I tentatively peeked over the edge-- it was a sheer cliff on the other side-- and gasped at the view. What a beautiful thing it was to see the entire valley spread before us, the Rocky Mountain range, and down the Bow River all the way to Calgary. It was truly the most magnificent peak we had ever climbed. 
I missed Maeve on the way down. I had tip-toed out of the house before she’d awakened, and I felt strangely alone having not felt the wiggly warmth of her in my arms before my departure. Being away from her for five hours is a long time, and particularly after a long night’s rest, I knew I’d be grateful to hold her in my arms when we arrived home. When we arrived home she was grinning at me from the upper balcony, and she melted into my arms as I came up the stairs. It was a sweet end to a beautiful morning of adult time. 

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