This Tuesday morning was our last morning on expedition. Given that Aurélie’s twisted her ankle before arriving at the camp, Mario, Simon and Olivier decided to accompany her and leave two hours before the group, that is, at 6:00 a.m. The idea, of course, was to get ahead and take the lead. Surprisingly, when they got to the kitchen, Dr. Marie-Ève was waiting for them with coffee, hot water and their bowls of cereal ready to eat. It is not surprising for Marie-Eve to take care of people at this point; she did so throughout the trip!
Preparing was quick as the day was going to be a long one. The first five kilometres were an intense, never-ending climb. Fortunately, that climb was at the beginning of the journey; I think that if it had been at the end, it would have been very difficult for many to complete it. I, too, found this climb terrible, with all the electronic equipment to carry, except for the huge battery (like, car battery) that Mario, Marie-Ève and Vincent carried each to their turn during the three days.
Once the col was reached, we entered Banff Park to travel the last 9 km. This is where we stopped for lunch. Everyone was fine, but luggage was getting heavier and heavier. We then caught up with the first group four kilometres ahead and stopped again. At that time, Mario asked everyone to think and find a word that represented our individual journey. We would discuss it again in the evening.
Bartering was practised repeatedly throughout the day, with several food trades taking place. Fruit bars and Mars bars were very popular. Simon then asked Mario if he could trade his word for a Mars bar. From a distance, this joke seemed banal, but in context it was very funny!
The last few kilometres were painful. It seemed like the end would never come. The last three kilometres were the three longest kilometres in human history. We could see the top of the Sunshine Village ski resort without ever reached it. The pain was making its way, and some of us got rid of their bags, to the detriment of others who didn’t hesitate to take a little more. It was only after great effort and teamwork that we all proudly succeeded. The moment is filled with heartfelt hugs and incredible pride!
We then took the equipment borrowed back to Yamnuska and picked up our belongings left there 6 days earlier. Then, as promised, we went to downtown Canmore to eat ice cream. For some, there was a strong temptation to trade the ice cream for a beer in a microbrewery just across the street. But they will have to wait, since the Foundation expeditions are alcohol-free…
When we arrived at the inn, we returned the material loaned by the Foundation, took a shower and ate burgers cooked on the Grill by James, the Yamnuska cook. Mario’s friends, who climbed Mount Everest with him in 1994, came to visit him. Mario was very happy to meet these old friends, who never see each other since.
The last discussion went well, although everyone seemed pretty tired. Mario repeated what nature brings, especially cooperation, communication and communion with oneself. The word I used was Vincent’s: simple. Because that adventure was great, partly because it was all about extremely simple things like eating, walking, sleeping and talking.
The last evening is spent in fun and sadness at having to leave already. Departure is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. this Wednesday morning. The Calgary airport is where the farewell will be.
See you all tomorrow!
Nicolas Tremblay, Blogger and Photographer for the On the Tip of the Toes Foundation