Backcountry Canadian Rockies – Shadow Lake Lodge
Journey or destination? You know the query, edging into your brain at the most inopportune time, irritating your mental state, after you rationalized you just want to get there and you don’t care about the expedition.
Destination – Shadow Lake Lodge in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, just west of the famous resort town of Banff. ETA – impossible to determine as you beat off the most insolent members of the bug kingdom, weighty boots adding to gravity’s unwelcome pull as you slog up Red Earth Creek trail in Banff National Park. Your mind plays with how many more turns in the trail await before you can lie prone in those lofty pillow-soft beds, arms outstretched in angel position with legs released from the cast-like footwear, teasing you from taking pleasure in the moments that make the hike experience. Indian paintbrush and mauve harebells dance their mightiest to draw you, but even the beckoning creek side can’t pull your attention off the destination. At kilometer 14.6 the forest opens into a high alpine meadow and laid out across a west-facing corner is your home in the mountains. The discovery of Shadow Lake, Gibbon and Haiduk Pass await as you sip tea and drink in Mount Ball in the distance. The afternoon refreshment spread out in the 1928 CPR cabin tempts beyond the caloric intake of today’s ascent giving high tea a whole new meaning at this remote high country destination, an oasis of comfort and worth every step of the journey.
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Working In India – Ladies Work The Tea Plantations
Ladies pick the tea in southern India. Interspersed among the green infusion bearing plants, up and down the steep slopes, women are plucking and flicking and snipping and smiling. Despite their happy outlook, the tea bushes must be prickly as the workers don a large rubber sheet over their field clothes, presumably to avoid scratches.
Maybe it is because they have finer hands to handle the leaves or bigger smiles in the Nilgiri Hills (former British hill station), where tea is the main crop. Although the emerald hills sweeping up and down the Blue Mountains of Karnataka state are eye-catching, sadly they replace a diverse range of exotic species; over 2700 flowering plant species have been collected here. The next time you partake in a sip of tea, think of these ladies out in the tea bushes perfecting your cup from the first blush of the fields of southern India.
Beauty Among The Teas
When a small group of photographers recently descended upon a local tea shop, it was vendor beware.
The salesperson at Cochrane’s “Tea and Other Things” couldn’t have contemplated the imminent invasion upon granting her meek consent. She was overwhelmed. A lovely model and her lens toting entourage rearranged the furniture, rebuilt the product showcase and attempted to replace tea with beauty (well, tea can be beautiful too). The saying, “anything for the shot” could wreak havoc when this group landed, bag and baggage (photographers never travel lightly), on a quiet, little haven of lifted pinky and afternoon dainties.
Warning to all teashop owners; wish for a bull instead of photographers once they commence painting this canvas. Posing and directing requires concentration. Getting the right composition menas hitting the floor, climbing on furniture, and, heaven forbid, backing up without looking. Wary owners have to hold their ground once the visionary photographer has a “concept” for a winner. Grab the Samovar, all hands on deck as the cameras move between dainty cups and saucers or tea travel mugs. The photographers are on the scene and, no holds barred, where there is a pretty lady and a magic box, passion rules over china. Model mayhem has a whole new meaning when teapots and their aromatic infusions are the background. Be forewarned, they whisk out as quickly as they descend upon your premises, leaving a trail of promised images and future tea purchases in their wake.
Kudos to Tea and Other Things, Cochrane for opening their door to Laura Phaneuf (model), Greg Harder and Lisa Pintaric and myself, who actually only left the possibility of destruction behind.