“Are you OK?” a woman asked me with some concern as I transferred my trekking poles to one hand and slowly moved to the final bridge over the Robson RIver.
I had just taken three hours to descend 7 km from Kinney Lake campground to the parking lot and I really didn’t want the trip to end, didn’t want to lose the roar of the river, the sweet trills of winter wrens, the soft scent of the forest.
Berg Lake is always my first backpacking trip of the season, accessible when most high places in the Rockies are still under snow. I go alone because that is the best way to be part of the mountains. Modern lightweight gear has kept pace with my aging; I can still carry a solo pack. Age also gives me perspective; I know that I will not be able to do this forever, so each trip must be savored to the full.
The mountain put on quite a show this time, its snow-caked heights painted against a clear blue sky for five days. I camped at Emperor Falls, did leisurely day hikes from there, spent hours sitting by the river, reading, writing and just being.
Fair weather here is as fleeting as the glacier lilies and orchids that greet the attentive hiker.
I smiled at the woman who was worried about me. “When you are 73,” I said, “you don’t need to hurry through beauty.”