With mixed feelings we’re finally heading south toward home. Jasper and Banff hold many special memories for me. It was one of the first places I travel after moving to the Pacific Northwest to hike and camp and a favorite climbing spot for Phil and me. I looked forward to spending a few days hiking with the poodles before the last push back to Seattle. I kept reminding myself that heading back to Seattle wasn’t actually an ending but another beginning. In Seattle I’ll take few weeks to reassess, repack and re-equip for the Journey south to the Americas.One of my funniest memories from Jasper is a climb Phil and I did on Mount Edith Cavell. It centers around a technical climb up the East Ridge of this 11,000 mountain. In July it can get quite hot, especially on the exposed ridge where we were climbing. Although we started in the early morning, it wasn’t until late afternoon that we summited leaving us exposed to the hot sun all day. We’d been alone during the entire climb but after summiting we were joined by a young German couple. While the four of us took a break we discussed the best route down. There was no decent descent and the best option was down the back side through a huge scree field. Scree is the broken sharp rock left after thousands of years of rockfall and it’s difficult and time consuming to traverse. I wasn’t very happy with the option but it was the best one we had. As we sat there I also noticed an alpine lake far far below. One of my favorite rewards after a long hard hot climb is a plunge into one of these deep icy pools. The descent was even hotter and more laborious than the climb and as we neared the bottom, my only thought was to jump into that water and my hope was to be in it before the German couple arrived. One of the beautiful things about the wilderness is the freedom to go skinny dipping. I’m a very modest person and despite my joy of the naked, I like to do it privately. Of course, anyone who’s spent any time in Europe knows that the Germans are pretty liberal about showing their bodies in public but despite that, I still wanted to get into the water before they saw me. I got to the lake’s edge, I pulled off my backpack and did a quick scan for the Germans and saw that alas, they were sitting on a big boulder next to the water. My only option was to get into the water as quickly as possible and submerge myself. I threw off my clothes ran as fast as I could into the middle of the lake only to find myself standing naked in the middle of a giant puddle……..the lake was only ankle-deep.