Maligne River, AB - Carrie Steele

My Watermark is the Maligne River, Alberta.

Like most people my age, I was lucky enough to be born into a society that has water all the time, especially where we live in Canada – there's water everywhere. At a twist of a tap, we get crystal clear, beautiful, clean running water. It's a miracle, but we don't realize it because it has always been there. I think we have to get a little older before we know that there's a lot of work and technology that goes behind that. It wasn't always the case that people had these things. I was definitely way older than I should have been before I realized this.

I remember going on a multi-day hike in the Rocky Mountains, so we couldn't carry enough water with us to drink tap water the whole time, but being the Rockies, there's lots of water around, we had a filtration system with us and we just went. And that was beautiful, but we weren't very smart about it. Not having to think about water in the past, we got ourselves into trouble. At the top of a very high ridge, we had sucked all our water die pretty much as soon as we stepped on the ridge. Being at the highest place around, there's no rivers coming through; this is where the rivers start, not where the rivers flow through. We had many kilometres to go before we would descend again, we knew we were in a little bit of trouble, and that was shocking – water had just always been there.

Luckily we had someone with us who was a little bit more experienced. We climbed up a very gravel slope to the snowpack and he dug a hole in the gravel right underneath where the snowpack ended. Because it was summer and a hot day, the water melted into that hole that he dug and we were able to suck some water from there into our packs and drink it. I think I will never forget the taste of that water, it was such beautiful water. It did taste like something: one, because we were so thirsty, and two, because we had earned it not just by twisting the tap and assuming it would be there, but by collecting it ourselves and having to think of a way to do it. It was a good lesson, obviously I haven't forgot it, and I hope I never will.

Maligne River, AB
Doug Copping
Carrie Steele