We explored part of the park in the fall. It was hot, dry and challenging. A first steep hike for the boys.
Now it’s different. The creek has icy sideburns and the sun stomps its bright feet in it like a giant millipede. It’s easy to feel blessed in such a place. And hope it will stay like this. For ever sounds about right.
We walk alongside the creek and watch the sideburns grow to cover it. We hear the water gurgling underneath. The heart of the creek drumming away…
“A wolf! Mom, is that a wolf?”
Perfectly matching the shade of bushes, a fluffy light grey Husky is watching. He runs ahead of us, then stops and waits.
The boys are elated. We call him Buddy and delight in his lively company. He jumps all over, runs up and down the trail, bumping my little guy off his feet more than once but there’s no protests. They’d love to have a dog, I know that. I would too, but not yet.
We hike towards the waterfall, and though slippery and gnarly at times, the trail reveals surprises too.
“A cave! Mom, a cave!” We’ve been hunting for caves since we got to Kamloops and as spectacular it is to find one when you set for it, it’s even better to find one when you don’t expect it.
Buddy follows us inside the cave. The darkness is both tempting and scary. We’ll bring a flashlight next time. Out again and to the waterfall.
Buddy leads the way, we follow.
“Can we keep him, Mom?” I knew that was coming. We can’t, but we’ll get one soon.
We reach the waterfall. Frozen and guarded by tree-studded rock walls, it dwarfs us. I take photos but like so many times before, I know the photos cannot catch the very soul of it. Amazing, frozen beauty with a water heart drumming away.
The boys explore the surroundings, and so does Buddy, clearly in his element.
A man reaches the place we’re at and we greet. He tells me how he used to come up here when his children were my boys’ age. Photos of the kids standing by the waterfall, he has some too. We chat about how precious it is to show kids the beauty of a place like this.
We’re new to Kamloops and already sold to its beauty, I tell him. He laughs: “You could go out 365 days a year to explore around here, and not get bored or run out of places to discover.” I had a hunch that was the case.
Our impromptu chat reveals that we share common ancestry, the Romans, and we speak a common language too: environmentalism. I have always reveled in meeting people who change their ways to protect the planet, knowing that our lives and the planet’s well-being are intertwined that way.
But changes do not always come easy. Where to start? Changing our perspective, I’d say. Needs versus wants, it should not be hard to stick to “needs” mostly… That would keep the above mentioned 365 places pristine.
“Wants” ultimately lead us towards an environmental sellout. Searching for what really matters should start within us, to be complemented by nature’s primal beauty.
The boys explore and stick their hands in the “eyes” the creek opens through its icy cover. Their happy voices hop from one side of the rocky walls to the other, much like their temporary furry friend.
“Mom, my boots have water in them, I stepped in the creek.”
Same as always then, just like it should be.
We say good bye. I am grateful to have learned that this year is Giuseppe Verdi’s two-hundredth birth anniversary. As a kid, I used to snuggle with my mom and watch Verdi’s operas. My first realization that music transcends language and the reason my boys know Pavarotti’s music.
We make our way back to the car, sliding down the trail with no mercy for the bottom of our pants. The creek sings under the icy surface.
Buddy left. He’s likely found his owner. I didn’t want him to get lost; I know about that heartache. But he made our hike that much more special. Thank you, Buddy!
At home I make hot chocolate and we look at the photos I took. Buddy’s in there too. We spend the rest of the afternoon reading. Feeling blessed is but one way of saying thank you.
Originally published as “‘Wolves,’ caves and adventures await in city park” in the Kamloops Daily News on Saturday, February 2, 2013