Relaxing in red, high-back parlor chairs next to a blazing fire, we contemplate the hectic pace of our lives. Now that the baby is coming, we agree it's time to slow down. Belly movements again remind me to savor this moment with my husband, to gaze often at the mountains—craggy and looming yet awe-inspiring like the challenges ahead—and to memorize this tranquil feeling.
The next morning, sunshine pushes through clouds, producing silver linings across the sky. We start our day with hot coffee and homemade cinnamon rolls at Soft Rock Café in Jasper before heading up to Maligne ("Ma-leen") Lake for a guided boat cruise. Chugging along the second largest glacier-fed lake in the world, silent save for the churning aquamarine water, we soon reach Spirit Island, one of the most photographed spots in the world. Dotted with alpines spreading against blue sky and rocky peaks, the island earned its name from a photographer whose spirit was moved upon viewing it, but even before his arrival, the natives held this spot sacred for its remarkable beauty.
Over candlelight dinner at the Lodge's Edith Cavell dining room, we slurp kiwi sorbet served on silver spoons between courses, the conversation turning again to the naming of our baby. For months we've been gridlocked over names so tonight we brainstorm, but all we can come up with are goofy ideas, like Edith or Cavell—for the tallest mountain peak in the region—or perhaps Alberta. Over dessert, we crack up when Kirk suggests "chalet" like the lakeside lodging.
On our last day, our guide Dieter drives us halfway up to Mt. Edith Cavell, shrouded in clouds. He explains how the natives called her "the white ghost" because snow would slam into the mountain, making it disappear. It was later named for a British nurse who was martyred by the Germans in the early 20th century.
We hike over glacial rock and sediment, past squatty subalpines making a comeback on a landscape which, just 50 years ago, was covered in ice. Guiding our path are inuksuk ("inuk-shuk"), stone formations used by the Inuit of Arctic Canada as navigational aids. Here, playful visitors have built markers from glacial rock. The hike proves a haul, but I congratulate myself for making it to the glacier lake and I find it awfully charming when my husband assists me over rocks and hills on our path.
A light drizzle leads us down from Mt. Edith, back to our cozy suite and a fresh log on the fire—the perfect closing ceremony. Leaving the next morning, we spot a male elk roadside, his huge spread of antlers making as much of a statement about his manhood as his harem of females nearby. It's close to the "rut" season, a time for choosing mates and making babies.
By spring, the elk will be as ready to deliver as we are.