Athabasca Falls, Canadian Rockies
First please let me say how saddened I was to read of the circumstances of the loss of your son - my sincerest sympathy.
I was in Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada last week and came upon your card at the Athabasca Falls just outside of the gates of the national park. The setting is beautiful - waterfalls, mountains and a cool sweet mist as you meander around the rocks.
I took your son's picture from there with the intention of bringing it up to Miette hot springs, on a hike towards Roche Miette and leaving it on the mountain. You see, I was carrying some of my mom's ashes with me and this was one of her very favourite places in the world. As children, my parents often took us to Jasper and we camped together (all six of us and often times more when friends came along!) up at Miette Hot Springs. My mom and dad would take us for hikes through the rockies and at the end of the day was the delightful soak and swim at the hot springs and pool.
So - I'd like to thank you. Your son kept me company on a bittersweet journey up to the confluence of Fiddle River and the Miette River where I had planned to spread my mum's ashes. It was nice to have him along, as I talked to him while I hiked and told him about my mom. It had been my intention to leave Robert's photo there, but in the end I changed my mind as I looked around and realized it might be too remote for anyone else to find him and take him on another journey.
So after releasing my mom's ashes in a rushing mountain stream surrounded by trees and cliffs and saying farewell, Robert and I headed back down the mountain. As a soldier, I thought he might enjoy a stop at the hot springs and pool where some lovely young women were bathing! I propped his picture up on a chair facing the pools. After a good soak, we drove back down the mountain and headed in to the Jasper town site, where we stopped at a local brew pub and sampled some local beer. I think he would have liked the pub - very warm and friendly J.
After that, I ran in to another friend who was just heading back to Athabasca Falls but wasn't quite sure of the way. I offered to accompany her back again. Along the way, I showed her Robert's picture and we talked about the perfect next place for Robert to go.
On this visit to the falls, we hiked down to the basin where the water becomes calm and almost gentle. At the base of the falls someone has built a number of inukshuk. Inukshuk, if you are not familiar with this, are stones that have been fashioned by Canadian Inuit. They are markers intended to guide other travellers, and they tell the traveller that someone has been here, and that you are on the right path.
So in the end, Robert was placed directly on one of the inukshuk as it seemed so fitting to place him on the right path . looking upon a cool and clear mountain river surrounded by the Canadian Rockies on a spectacular summer day. It also meant that someone else will find him and take him on another adventure I hope.
I commend you both for taking such a tragic event and finding such a meaningful way to honour his life. Robert was such good company for me on my very difficult task - he gave me comfort. Thank you both for that.
If you would like to see a picture of the place where I placed Robert's picture, please email me back and I would be happy to send it to you.
C.M., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada