Last October as I stood belting out O Canada with a hundred or so other newly minted Canadians, I did not expect to be called upon to sing it again, unless at a sporting event. The request from a stranger on a mountain to join him in a rendition, was most unexpected.
We had passed the chap earlier on our way to the summit of Table Mountain (not the African one), and exchanged a few pleasantries, mentioning that we were from Canada etc. We never did get the his name, but he had a look of a Hank about him, so for the purposes of this post he shall henceforth be known as Hank. Hank was an older gent, and had been making slow progress so when we passed by and said our initial hello we became a good excuse for a break.
We bid Hank farewell and pushed on, for at the top we could crack open our packed lunches and take in a well earned view of the Tetons. We chowed down and waited for a clear view of Grand Teton. Eventually the clouds lifted for a moment or two and we were able to admire and snap a couple of pics. Satisfied that we had crammed as much food down our throats as possible and got the best view that the clouds were going to allow we decided to start our decent.
We met Hank about 10 mins after leaving the summit, we stopped to give a few jollying words of encouragement. These words however were not enough to push him to the top, he confessed that he was actually a Canadian and asked if we would join him in singing O Canada, to spur him on for the final assent.
As random requests go on a mountain this one seemed pretty hard to deny. Anyone who knows me will be well aware that singing rates pretty low on the scale of things Dan is bad at, but I had Heather to carry the tune, and if this is what it was going to take to make Hank “The king of the Hill” so be it. Fortunately it is one of the two songs that I know all the words to, scratch that the only song, I have been know to forget names during Happy Birthday, a skill that came in handy as my two a cappella partners stumbled over the words early on. Heather thankfully pulled it together so that I did not have to carry our trio to the anthems conclusion.
Hank left us a little misty eyed and made for the summit. We looked back regularly to check his progress. On our last glance back we saw him on the top, and the sky was perfect blue, Mother Nature had rewarded Hank with the best view of the afternoon, we couldn’t begrudge him a second of it, he had put in 8hrs to get to the top, he thoroughly deserved his view.
This was not the last time we helped Hank out that day, as we continued down I saw Hanks pack, he had left to make the final accent a little easier. I also spotted an unwanted helper making it light for his decent. A marmot had found his way inside and was relieving Hank of as much food as it could, we chased it off and re-secured the pack best we could. I guess Mother Nature gives with one hand and takes away with the other.
The hike itself was one of the longer ones we have done so far, at 14 miles, gaining 4100ft to a total altitude of 11,120ft. It certainly had its quota of challenges, including, a fast flowing foot freezing river crossing, the ever present snow, steep final scramble, and a rock field. Needless to say we were in our element, loving every second of it, we even bumped into a moose, and walked through a spot an avalanche had hit during the winter. The destruction it caused was amazing, trees literally smashed in half or uprooted and dragged all the way down the mountainside. Getting caught in an avalanche is now pretty high on my things not to do list.
One more thing to report, after the hike Heather finally got her kit off and took a simple shower in the shadow of the mountains, yay view for Dan, boo Heather used all the hot water, making my shower quite bracing.