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In 1970 I hiked the Appalachian Trail through Great Smoky Mountains National Park with a college friend. The trail was filled with adventures that I look back on with nostalgia.

We were staying in a log hut during a Seattle Mountaineers trip to Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, one of the dramatic high country huts in the Canadian Rockies, when it snowed one night. The next morning, Karen led an effort to create a snowman that reflected the changing seasons. It had a rain hat and a warm woolen scarf, as well as an evergreen mouth, a traditional carrot nose, and eyes of still-flowering… Read More

We camped in the heart of The Enchantments, along an achingly beautiful body of water called Sprite Lakelet, where we were visited frequently by Mountain Goats. Cutthroat Trout swam in the cool waters and mountains towered above. It was heaven, or a good facsimile.

That night in The Enchantments, the sky cleared and we enjoyed the Milky Way splayed across the vast dome overhead, at least when we got up after midnight to attend to nightly rituals. We saw the advance contingent of Perseid meteors streaking across the sky, with no moon in sight and just a hint of the lights of civilization to the east.

3,800′ of vertical gain. Yes, 3,800′. With a full backpack, in about 5.8 miles. It was an exhausting climb–especially the last 300 vertical feet, which had the steepest pitch. But we did it!

Standing before the ice cave entrance, I felt the menacing breath of the ice age upon me. Outside, the day was sunny and mild; inside the cave entrance, the atmosphere was dark, with a thin fog carried by the breeze coming down the long and icy corridor. The wind smelled of elemental rocks and ice, and carried a message of unrelenting cold.

The Elizabeth Parker Hut is located in one of the most beautiful settings in North America: the Lake O’Hara area of Canada’s Yoho National Park. This article describes the experience of staying in the hut.