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Growing Back

by Ines Quandel


I just spent a few days in Waterton Lakes National Park in southern Alberta. Waterton is a hiker’s paradise with over 200km of trails besides glacier lakes, through rolling foothills and along mountain cliffs. In 2017 the park was scorched by the Kenow wildfire, which burned nearly 40% of the park. Around the town site you’ll still see signs thanking firefighters for saving the town from flames.


My hike for the day was along Red Rock Canyon and then over to Blakiston Fall. A few trees in the canyon, those closest to the creek, survived the fire. Everywhere else there are only tree trunks, with scorched bark and some of their larger branches left. The trail to Blakiston Falls goes through what used to be a lush forest of aspens and birches. I enjoyed seeing the surrounding peaks through the bare trees, but was also saddened knowing there should have been a shady canopy of green and yellow leaves.

The forest floor was a different story, covered with fireweed, grasses, shrubs, and aspen, birch and pine saplings. Green, yellow, and red leaves and needles hide some of the damage from the fire. The forest is starting to grow back! The burned trunks still show what was, the new growth is a long way from being a forest, but it’s a start.

To me that’s the way I see this pandemic. The damage is all around us and it will remain for many years even after we get this disease under control. But we are resilient and adaptable, and we can and will rebuild our lives and our society. Along the way our emotional and mental well-being may be strained and our spiritual resolve tested. Let’s support each other through these difficult times, and reach out for help when we need it.


Join us for our Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Self-Care Panel, where Val McIntosh, Matthew Kelemen, and Alicia Bowman will host a discussion on this topic.

Register HERE to participate in the Zoom webinar on Wednesday, October 28th at NOON MST.


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