“When even shadows need shadows to cool off, you must know that the weather is incredibly hot!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan
The record heat wave the West was experiencing brought blistering heat here and everywhere else in the Western region of Canada. We had narrowly escaped the 42-degree heat of Blue River, and continued through to the immensely popular Wapiti campground at Jasper National Park. We were lucky to get in without a reservation, but really only spent the night because I needed rest. The Quebecois national park attendant warned me that the female Elk were particularly aggressive this time of year because they were protecting young calves. Of course, there were also the bears that are ubiquitous to Canadian Camping as well. Neither of these seemed as much a threat to me as the dense population of humans camped out in clusters of tents that sprawled throughout the open landscape of the sparsely treed campground.
City of Tents
The sites at this campground are open to neighbouring campsites, but they all seem to have incredible views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains. Neighbouring campers take care to avoid eye contact with one another, and if some sort of meeting is inevitable at the communal dishwashing sink, a polite and brief exchange of awkward “Hi!”s ensues as dishes are washed and then rinsed and before campers are on their way. It is like a small city of tents nestled in this park in the Rocky mountains.
There is no cell service here. I think that is what makes people greet each other at all instead of craning their necks down at cell phones.
Multiple large piles of firewood stand as rapidly disappearing monuments to recently logged pine and spruce trees. Two girls watched from a neighbouring campsite as I (deftly) backed into my small campsite and carefully lined the trailer up (with precision)against three pines at the back of the campsite. This would be a fine place to settle for the night, even though there were no hook-ups.
The World is a Thirsty Place
Even in this fading sunlight, It was too hot to walk the dogs. So I busied myself filling water bottles at the dishwashing sink, since there hadn’t been potable water at our last few stops in the North Thompson and we’d already used up the 11 gallons that we travel with. The 3 road trip addled dogs accompanied me. A middle aged Malaysian woman stood at the sink and washed dishes until she saw us. Oh myyyy….your dogs are very thirsty. Let me fill your bottles. How can you keep them from having water? That’s so meannnnnn….” She chided (with some glimmer of delight in her dark eyes) as she filled my bottles for me. Yeesh. The dogs were thirsty. I was thirsty. “The world is thirsty right now” I thought. I said “This water is for them. Thank you for your help!” We now had a gallon of water. We would have to conserve it to last through the night. I dropped two ice cubes into a glass and covered them with the Shelter Point Scotch I have for such emergencies.
Little Fires Everywhere
I didn’t avail myself of the Park attendant’s invitation to have a campfire. It was just too hot. As night fell, we took a much-needed stroll around the dirt roads of the campground and saw the campground was dotted with the orange glow of campfires. The kindling on what was once a forest floor crunched under my feet as I cut through an empty campsite on my way home. It was too dry for a campfire.