Part of my enjoyment was what I was doing: floating on my back in a pool of 40 degree mineral water, my hands behind my head, about ten deep breaths away from entering an alpha state and slipping into full-on unconsciousness,and wondering if I would continue to float if I did so.
A bigger part of my happiness was where I was: surrounded by the Rocky Mountains and nestled into the hot spring pool at Miette, tucked between Ashlar Ridge and Fiddle Valley, possibly my favorite spot in Jasper National Park.
The biggest contributor to my mental state was neither where I was nor what I was doing, but who I was with: my family. Our recent vacation in Ontario was a great time, but so packed full of visits and activities that it all went by in a blur.
Early in September I realized I still craved more time with my wife and daughters, so I booked us a campsite for the Thanksgiving long weekend, since my parents were expected to head out to BC for winter well ahead of that. (They didn't, but that's what expectations are for, right?) I figured it would be cool, but was not expecting it to drop six degrees below freezing while we shivered in our tent.
We cheated by bringing along a space heater, but the additional condensation caused by this surplus of warm air resulted in a drippy tent, complete with patches of ice when the morning came. Still, what's the point of going to a hot spring when it's warm outside?
It was great just wandering around Jasper, riding the tram and hiking about halfway to the summit of Whistler Mountain (the snow made for a tiring ascent and a treacherous and terrifying descent; I do not regret for an instant our decision to abort our climb!), and playing Blokus in the tent on my iPad. We ended up seeing mountain sheep crossing a pond, lots of Elk (including a magnificent bull who refused to lift his head up for a decent picture), some deer, and Glory spotted a coyote right in our campground as we drove for firewood that we followed in the car for almost hundred feet. We enjoyed smokies cooked over an open fire, and bacon and eggs cooked on a camp stove, and a dinner at North Face Pizza.
The best part has to be enjoying the park with curious children who just happen to be yours: How long have people been here in Jasper? What makes the hot springs so hot? How come ravens can make so many noises? Why is that guy getting so close to that elk when the parks lady told us to stay three bus lengths away? Can we please turn the heater back on? Why can't we live in Jasper?
All in all, our weekend in Jasper helped remind us how much we have to thankful for, including warm beds that don't rest on the ground, but especially each other.
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