The “real” Friday hikers were going up to the Trophy Meadows on Sept. 11.
“Don’t do it this year,” my medic had warned. “Next year is soon enough to give your new knee that workout.”
Okay – so where can I go? A more or less level challenge came to mind quickly: start from the one-lane bridge and go along the little-used trail on the south side of the Clearwater River. Revelling in the beautiful sunshine, my walking buddy Sandra and I left our vehicles tucked in out of the way of rafters and their buses.
“People have had campfires here,” we noted immediately. Throwing off stray limbs that the river, now almost at its lowest point, had left after all the rain earlier this year, we gazed at the lagoon between us and that flowing, sparkling water.
“There used to be beaver here,” I announced, “but I don’t see any signs of habitation now.”
The ending of that sentence was cut off by a huge WOP and ripples circled outwards from the splash.
“Hey, quit throwing rocks!” we yelled at unseen figures way above us. Seeing no-one, we started to move on tentatively.
“Look! A beaver!” we laughed. “It just slapped its tail.”
Having got our attention away from the non-existent tossers of rocks, it simply drifted along for several minutes, top of head and back just visible among the circlets of algae floating on the pond. Eventually, after briefly raising itself higher, the beaver dived, leaving us thrilled at the sighting, and still chuckling over our mistake.
Continuing once more and moving more branches and fallen trees aside, we noted that the cut ends had strong tooth marks. Well, we knew who had done that. The rocky trail now took us into the trees.
“I know I’m going slow,” I said more than once. “But I’m just taking it all in – the length of the beaver’s lagoon, the swirling current of the river and the sound of it rippling over the rapids.”
“It’s just the way I like it,” said my pal who was trying with some difficulty to capture the magic of our surroundings on her camera.
Sunshine twinkled through the trees; while we noted the colours and shapes of leaves of varied plants on the sloping hillside, we didn’t pretend we could identify them. After clambering over a log or three, and coming closer to the yellow highway bridge, we made our way upwards to where we could safely cross beneath its girders.
Traffic, speeding on its way to somewhere important, roared above us.
“They have no idea we are here,” I grinned. “I love this feeling of being invisible to the rest of the world.”
“And all too often they are unaware of the beauty of their surroundings,” added my companion.
The trail is obviously used more on the other side of the bridge, the first part of it now tied with yards of bright pink survey taps marking changes to come.
“I’m absorbing every iota of what it’s like now.”
Then, although the area is flatter, the trail still follows right along an edge that slopes steeply to the river, still flashing past us. Shadows changed the views where we walked. Soon we could see the confluence where the clear water of Clearwater River joined the cloudier, greener water of the North Thompson.
An island formed there was pushing the water upstream briefly. Too soon it was time to turn around, as we both had deadlines. A side trail looped us upwards to the pipeline, and this we followed back to the yellow bridge.
Gazing about, we saw no evidence of the trail we had just walked on. Crossing the one-lane bridge next, we could see the river’s rocky bottom.
“Where are the fish?” asked Sandra. And that’s what the patient but unsuccessful fisherman standing just downstream of trickling Brookfield Creek also wondered.
What of those “real” hikers up in the Trophies?
“We too loved the sunshine,” said one.
“No flowers left of course,” said another. “But it was beautiful just the same.”
“We could see Sheila Lake sparkling in the sun,” added someone else.
So, I guess their hike as almost as good as ours!