It had been a long time since my last hike. I placed my son in the kid carrier and heaved him up, surprised at his one-year-old weight. But I didn’t mind. We were outside, starting to breathe in the delicate scent of budding alpine flowers and the icy whisper of Angel Glacier as we began our hike along the Cavell Meadows Trail at Mount Edith Cavell in Jasper National Park.
As a lifelong hiker, having my firstborn shifted my focus from hardcore overnight backpacking and squeamish-making scrambles. No longer possible with a little one in tow. Quitting hiking wasn’t an option, and I wanted to introduce my son Ben to the outdoors. Solution: I packed him up for a mother-son trip so I could find my new footing as a parent in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. That was over a decade ago and thinking back, I know this brave step made all the difference.
It’s All About the View
Edith Cavell is a favourite, an impressive massif rising 3,353 m (11,033 ft) to the heavens. It’s in nearly constant view from the trail, which travels across glacial moraine before doing hairpins up an opposing slope. This means your eyes can remain locked on scenes extending back to the Little Ice Age as you hike through centuries-old subalpine fir forest. It’s all about the view.
I hiked Ben up the well-marked 6.7 km (~4 mi) loop. Every so often I’d peek back and he’d draw his rosy cheeks into a smile and point, as amazed by the scene as I was.
For a gentle trip, take the shorter Path of the Glacier Trail which leads you to the hazy blue waters of Cavell Pond. From here you can make out the glassy folds and cracks of Angel Glacier. During one trip here, a hunk of ice calved off in the distance with an ear-splitting rip followed by a big splash. The feeling was primeval, like we were experiencing nature in raw form.
Making Mountain Memories
Just like Ben, I was introduced to this Jasper gem in childhood. I still recall my wonder at the shape of Angel Glacier, its wings extending to either side in an ethereal pose. A rainstorm blew in and my family sheltered beneath a stand of weathered firs. We ripped hunks of brown bread and sliced pieces of cheddar cheese while crunching apple slices. We were surrounded by such beauty, outside of the regular rules of home. And I loved it.
As a new parent, I realized I was instilling this same love in my son. As I took the switchbacks above the treeline, Ben’s head folded into my back as he fell deeply asleep. And somehow I knew that rather than ending, my hiking days had begun anew.
Sun Dog Tours
Follow the experts for a guided tour along Path of the Glacier. The folks at Sun Dog Tours have been sharing their mountain love since 1997. They’ll explain the geology, ecology, and history of the magnificent site unfolding before you.