Postscript to Summer Mountain & Music Trip 2015 - Waterton Lakes National Park

Published: September 5th 2015
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You may have noticed that there are few photos of David in this trip (or maybe not -- go back and look, there's definitely more photos of me.) There's a reason -- and it's a story I can now tell. Well, actually, David's going to start this story; I'll set it up: Near the end of June, we went on our yearly pilgrimage to southern Alberta near Lethbridge where we attended the rocket launch at Rock Lake -- it's not a lake of water, but a "lake of rocks" -- a rock pit surrounded by miles and miles of prairie and rolling hills. (Rocket launches may be a topic I'll discuss someday, but not today.) It seems to be always hot at this event, but this year it was exceptionally hot (I got a nasty burn), and we were both excited to go onto our next destination -- Waterton Lakes National Park -- one of my favorite places in the world! We were looking forward to our first canoe of the season on Cameron Lake. We had canoed and kayaked this lake twice before, and today was just perfect -- the weather was warm and not much wind, but things can change when you least expect it ... I'll let David pick up the story from here ...

Michele decided I should go fishing today. Now I don't normally fish, don't even have a rod or tackle for the job, so I am studiously looking for things I can use as a hook, something to go bottom fishing with. I should back up a bit ... It all started with something about taking too many pictures of birds or landscapes and not paying much attention to her. In fact, I was shooting a bald eagle we had been chasing on Cameron Lake when enough was enough, and being the spontaneous person Michele is, she decided that the terrible hot days she had endured at the rocket launch was going to end with a swim -- so in we went. Now this was a bit of a surprise to me. I called out her name as the canoe swiftly, but gently, as if in slow motion, started to roll sideways. Further and further it went until that critical point of no return: We began swimming. The water was cool to our warm skin, actually it was quite cold, being

Yes, that's the eagle.
a mountain lake and all. After the shock had worn off, I looked to swim to shore (actually, the cliff face, as there was no shore) that was about 30 feet away, pulling the canoe behind with Michele hanging on. Well, she had been hanging on, but somehow she had separated from our craft intent on rescuing a little floating baggie. As I reached the cliff, I found a boulder several feet below the water to stand on and looked to make sure she was okay. That's when I noticed she was still a ways out, floundering a bit, teeth chattering as they do when hypothermia kicks in. But, she made it to the water-covered rock. The baggie, once closed, had opened under water with the force of her arms trying to make for higher ground. She poured the water out and said, "I saved it!" I said, "I don't think so, electronics don't do well in water, especially when on." Her camera had been dry and would have remained so if left bobbing on the water. I went to check my gear, safe in their nice waterproof cases, tethered to the canoe. Everything was where it should be with one exception and that is the story we come to about fishing. If you have ever gone out taking pictures of wildlife, you know you need a great camera and long lens to get to those closeup portraits. Well, I did that. I got what I thought was a great couple pics of the eagle as it was in flight, put the camera down to correct the canoe angle as we drifted past a point and into a big gust of wind and waves, which is when we went swimming. So here I am, looking for something to fish with . . .

That's David's side of the story, and he's being really kind. I need to add my two cents. I also noticed the gust of wind as we rounded the point, but instead of adjusting my paddle, I adjusted the string on my hat so it wouldn't blow off. That's when I heard David cry, "Michele!" I looked back at him. The canoe was filling rapidly with water and down we went! David's next words were, "My camera's on the bottom." I was devastated, so when I saw my camera floating by, I thought, "Well, I'm not going to lose mine, too!" As I was swimming after it, I was thinking, "I really shouldn't be doing this -- you're supposed to remain with the boat." I was cold and in shock -- the mind was numb. After we had got the water out of the canoe, we did try to rescue David's camera and lens. We found it in about ten feet of water, but it was too choppy, and of course, we had no fishing gear, and there was also that small problem of being freezing cold. So, we headed for shore -- the real shore -- about 20 minutes away. After loading up the canoe (Thankfully, a nice man helped David load it. I was really not up to the task), we went back to our campsite, got warm and dry, and headed into town to look for "fishing gear". David fashioned a pole out of a telescoping rod we just happened to have in the trailer, duct tape, and the tent peg we purchased in town. We got in the truck, drove back to the lake, unloaded the canoe and went to rescue the camera. The lake had calmed down and the water had barely a ripple. With the help of the GPS (which had survived along with everything else in the canoe -- we lost nothing else BUT the cameras!), we found the camera. The strap was floating and it took only about two minutes to reach down and pull it up. We knew it would probably never work again, but we just couldn't leave it out there. (If you are into cameras, you know what we mean.) We thought that our insurance might cover the loss, but no. If it had been stolen, in a fire, or maybe squashed by an elephant, who knows, it would have been covered. As I said at the beginning, I can only now tell this tale. I, and especially David, still miss the cameras, but we didn't lose each other; and we learned a few things: I won't ever try to keep my hat over trying to keep a canoe afloat. (Did you know Tilley hats float and are guaranteed to be replaced? They are also quite effective at bailing out canoes.) David will make sure the camera is in its case.

So, you now know why there are less photos of David
Last photoLast photoLast photo

Yes, same eagle.
on this trip than me -- we are down to only one camera. We will, of course, look to replace the two we lost – perhaps we’ll set up a crowd funding site. But for this trip, only David was taking photos ... and keeping a tight grip.

(The photos from the Waterton Trip are included in this post, but no other stories. We thought this was enough. If you do want more stories and photos on Waterton go to "Summer Trips 2012" - July 25th.)

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


Misty cloudsMisty clouds
Misty clouds

Taken from Red Rock Canyon

6th September 2015

The photos are fantastic, good lord, you are a great photographer, I loved the beginning of your story, which go amazingly well with the first picture, it´s like a thriller; sorry about your camera, though, keep the good work.
6th September 2015

It's a journey -- sometimes it's smooth sailing, other times, not so much
Thanks for the comments & compliments. Travelling does create those moments that you'll never forget, and then there are those moments you wish you could. We have told ourselves that the story is the compensation for the loss.

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