26th June 2014
It is the small signs of spring that have always most captured my imagination. Barely-there buds on the trees; the smell of grass after a spring rain; the white tips on the mountains slowly but surely receding ever further upwards.
After months of sleeping under many layers of snow, delicate alpine flowers poke their tiny heads out from beneath the forest floor: pink calypso orchid, purple prairie crocus, yellow mountain buttercup. It is a subtle spectrum of colors, still subdued, but heralding the vibrancy of summer and much anticipated warmer weather.
When I arrived in Jasper in the wintertime, this phrase was repeated to me so many times that I began to seriously reconsider my plans to leave once the ski season had finished. The Canadian Rocky Mountains are a sight to behold in the winter, and I fulfilled a lifelong dream by experiencing everything that a ski season had to offer.
But, I’m so glad I decided to stay. Summertime in the mountains has opened up a plethora of new activities to discover: hiking, mountain biking, rafting, climbing, camping… Jasper is a wonderland playground for the outdoor enthusiast year-round.
Indeed, I am awestruck daily with the beauty of the Rockies. In winter, crystalline icicles hang from slumbering spruce trees, and the weighty stillness of impending snow hangs in the air. The mountains sparkle in a chillingly inhospitable way, and yet they radiate an unparalleled beauty that is almost meditative. In spring, the alpine comes alive – with wildlife, with vegetation, and with people. Along with the bears, the town comes out of hibernation to revel in bluebird sunshine days. Countless hours are spent outside exploring one of the most stunningly picturesque places that I have ever been.
With the heat of the sun beating down on my back, I pedal my mountain bike through forests that smell strongly of spruce, juniper, pine and poplar. Relishing the subtle burn in my legs, I breathe deeply, inhaling the fresh, clean essence of the trees. The trail is quiet, and so is my mind. It is invigorating to escape an urban lifestyle, where traffic smog, the crowded press of humanity, and breezeless heat radiating from unforgiving pavement holds my spirit in a chokehold.
Here, I am free. Free to roam this forested playground, free to trek up a mountain and stand at the peak, surveying the vast expanse of stunning scenery spread out before me. Like swimming in the clear-blue glacial lakes that pepper the landscape below, this place takes my breath away. I am reminded daily of the overwhelming majesty that exists in this world, and I am grateful to be able to experience this part of it.
No matter what time of year, the rugged Canadian Rocky Mountains beckon...
So... What are you waiting for?
Kelci Mohr is an outdoor enthusiast and graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Leisure Studies at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She finished her undergraduate degree with a work term at Marmot Basin Ski Resort in Jasper, where she became acquainted with the Simply Snowsports team. She has since fallen in love with the area and is currently spending her days making the most of the Rocky Mountains.