Backpacking Adventures

The best cure for a sluggish mind is to disturb its routine.”
– William H. Danforth

Took time out from writing for a short overnight backpacking trip into Kananaskis Country’s Ribbon Lake. 

Slipsliding Away
On the way up to Buller Pass (one of three routes into the subalpine lake), we came across a group of eight Danish tourists and their mountain guide.  One of the hikers slipped coming off the pass, cut her hand and almost fainted at the sight of blood.  By the time we reached them, she was snugly wrapped with a guide’s tarp , feet elevated.  Brad, having emergency rescue experience from both the Parks Service and the Fire Department, agreed to hold up to see if she was going to be able to hike out.  Luckily, once her hand was bandaged, she was able to stand and start down the trail – and we were able to continue our hike.

Thunder, Lightening and Bears
As we reached the summit of Buller Pass, huge raindrops started splashing down.  Ominous grey clouds threatened. We threw on raingear, and beelined off the rocky summit – just before the thunder and lightening show. 

Hiking over Buller Pass (Credit: Brad Kopp)

Well into the alpine meadows below, we crossed several snow patches before looking closely at the tracks next to ours.  Big fat ol’ Grizz!  Going in our direction and fairly fresh.  Yo Bear!

Camping in a Moose’s Dining Room
Tent set up in between rain showers, we chilled lakeside and enjoyed the peace and quiet – until a young, greyish coloured cow moose burst out of the willows and romped through the lake splashing up a storm.  As the rains picked up, we realised the moose wasn’t trying to escape bugs, she was playing! 

The zoom on the camera wasn’t good enough to get more than a dot in the distance, but that’s alright. The next morn we returned to camp from a walk to the Ribbon Falls headwall to find a bull moose chowing down on the shrubbery right around the eating area. 

Moose in Camp (Credit: Brad Kopp)

Real-Life Vampires and Scary Folktales

They’re here!   My first two children’s books for Capstone Press arrived in a big white box this past week.  It felt like Christmas as I sliced through the tape on the lid, pulled aside the crumpled newsprint paper and smelled the ink of a newly pressed book.  The binding creaked as I opened “Scary Folktales.”  

I itched to open “Real-Life Vampires.”

My neighbour’s little girl came over for a visit and I showed her the books.  She read the name beneath the titles and looked up at me.  “Does this mean you are a writer now?”  

Four hundred articles in magazines, newspapers and online. Twelve years as a freelancer.  A room dedicated to computer, desk, writing supplies and reference books.

“Yes, sweetie, I’m a writer now.”

The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work.”
– Arthur Brisbane

Book Proposal

Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.”
– Booker T. Washington

I did it.

I sent away a book proposal a couple of days ago for “Wild Ice & Other Travel Adventures“.  And I got a very nice – and prompt – note from the publisher of Red Deer Press saying “… Wild Ice doesn’t fall within our current editorial focus” but “thanks for considering Red Deer.”  I was impressed.  This is a busy editor and he took the time to thank me for my query. 

I re-visited my proposal, tweaked a few things and fired it off again.  Not expecting such a quick response this go ’round, but I’m buoyed by the prospect of editorial feedback. 

This anthology is a collection of adventures garnered through years of travel – backpacking into Rainbow Bridge, last-minute travel to Hawaii with baby in arms and no set plans, encountering rattlesnakes in the Red Deer River,

Canoeing Alberta's Red Deer River (Credit: Megan Kopp)

driving Grey Pass and discovering we’ve not one, not two, but three flat tires… 

Having the adventures is easy, selling the work – not so much.  But like Booker T. says, if you don’t have to work for it, it’s not really worth much!

Have you ever sent off a non-fiction book proposal?  Was it accepted on the first go?  The second?  How many submissions did it take before it was accepted?  Let me know on the comments link below!

Wild Ice & Other Adventures

Lake of the Hanging Glacier (Credit: Megan Kopp)

We hiked in B.C.’s Invermere Valley these past days off and re-visited Lake of the Hanging Glacier.  Our first trip to the area was an overnight backpack trip years ago with our five-year-old daughter.  Back then, it took us most of the day to wind our way through the forested trail alongside Hell Roaring Creek, up the switchbacks, across the avalanche slopes and out onto the subalpine meadow camping area. 

After setting up our tent, we strolled the 1/2 km or so up to the lakeshore.  The Commander and The Lieutenants stood guard at the end of the glacial blue lake.  Jumbo Glacier flowed over the mountaintops and down the valley, one finger reaching into the water.  My daughter was captivated by the icebergs bobbing in the lake. 

“Do you want to try a piece of ice?” my husband asked her.


He found a longer stick in the avalanche debris littering the shoreline, waded out in the frigid water and started to pull a small berg closer to shore.  My girl was dancing beside me.

“Why are you so excited?” I asked.

“I’ve never had wild ice before!”

This adventure came back in a flash as we stood on the shore a few days ago, watching the icebergs bob and dance in the waves.  It put my mind to thinking about all of the mini-adventures and stories that have come out of our travels.  “Wild Ice and Other Adventures” – sounds like a book title.  And why not? 

Write it down. Written goals have a way of transforming wishes into wants;
cant’s into cans; dreams into plans; and plans into reality.”  – Unknown

Writing and Hiking: The Perfect Combo

Hiking Utah (Credit: Ally Kopp)

In my last post, I started with a Thoreau quote about moving feet leading to flowing thoughts. Apparently Henry David and I aren’t the only ones who have made this connection.

Writers Who Hike

1. Kevin J. Anderson. This whole blog is cool, but his best post (as far as I’m concerned) is the one where he talks about dictating while hiking. Now I haven’t given this a whirl yet – mainly because I’m a bit of a clutz and I can see myself so busy with the tape recorder that I’d walk right into a tree – but I can see its potential.  I think I’ll give a go while resting on a mountain pass or seated streamside at camp.

2. 100 This is the inspiration of hiker/writer Kolby Kirk and I love the post where he scans pages from his hiking journal to share.  What I wouldn’t give for 1/10th of his artistic talent.  But beyond sketches, the information he records is used to help him write blogposts down the line.  I do the same thing with my Nomad Adventure Journal for articles, blogposts, and just to keep a record of trails hiked.

3. Hiking Lady blog. Carol Roberts is a hit for me simply because I’m a woman who hikes and the information contained within in her posts matches my interests.  Her goal is to “make it easy and fun for women to embrace the outdoors!”  Gotta love that.

Do you have a blog about writing and hiking (or canoeing or climbing or mountain biking or trail running or…)?  Post your link in the comments section!

 “At some time in everyone`s life they will stumble across opportunity.
Sadly, most people will pick themselves up and walk away
as though nothing had ever happened.
– Winston Churchill

Waterton Lakes National Park Sparks Creativity

Overlooking Carthew Lakes (Credit: Brad Kopp)

Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”- Henry David Thoreau

Sitting on a knoll above Carthew Ridge, I wasn’t counting the footsteps it took to climb 650 m (2132 ft) from Cameron Lake.  I was soaking up the views; laughing at the antics of resident marmots; and juggling story ideas that were flooding my head.

Waterton Lakes National Park – tucked in Alberta’s southwest corner – is wildflowers, wildlife and wickedly good hiking during summer months.  Relatively small (0.07% of Alberta’s landbase), the park boasts 50% of the province’s plant species.  With an unusually cool and moist spring, the wildflowers are blooming a few weeks later than norm – a boon for us! A seasonal story on Waterton’s wonderful wildflowers wouldn’t be amiss.

Up on Carthew Mountain, my hubby paused in wonder as he investigated wolverine tracks left in a snowdrift.  What brought it up to this barren summit?  Where was it going?  Do wolverines appreciate the view as humans do?  Research into these cool creatures in Waterton Lakes would be a interesting tale to tell.

On the drive back down Akamina Parkway towards the townsite, we slowed to snap a quick picture of a cinnamon-coloured black bear and her three wee cubs as they grazed on dandelions in their own roadside restaurant.  Waterton is well-known for its grizzly population, but I wonder how many black bears are in the park?  Or how many deer? It seems like there are hundreds of these brazen creatures wandering Waterton’s streets with impunity.  Wildlife management in parks is always topical.  And surely there’s a story in the success of salamander migration tunnels leading to Linnet Lake?

And there’s the hiking.  Early July in almost in any other national park is prime season.  Trails are packed with adventurers throwing off the chains of work and school and setting off to explore the wilderness.  Now don’t get me wrong, Waterton is a popular destination, but the trails we visited were refreshingly uncrowded.  When I asked about the name for the whitish-coloured lily with three petals (the Mariposa), parks staff said I must have been on the Buffalo Paddock Trail because that’s where it was in bloom.  Made me think there could be a short article about walking for wildflowers, e.g. want to see avalanche lilies and bear grass, hike Carthew Summit trail.

Thoreau is so right. Taking a break from the computer keyboard and stretching the legs is always productive.

And if you’re looking for a little more information about Waterton, watch this Canada Tourism video (courtesy YouTube):