Dear Ol’ Dad

Posted by Rebecca

Thinking about downsizing?  There are many approaches….  Trade in your gas-guzzling SUV for an economical sedan.  Remove all items from your home that do nothing more than collect dust.  Take the big real estate plunge and cut your square footage in half.  Or consider a backpacking trip as your next vacation.

True, backpacking is not for everyone, but if you have the physical stamina it is an effective way to learn to survive with just the bare necessities – food, water, shelter.  Even if just for a few days, backpacking can give you the opportunity to re-evaluate your physical needs.  Maybe you could live with a little less.  Maybe you don’t need every new technological gadget that is released.  Maybe you would be happy with little more than the necessities.

My dad and brother moved to Jasper, Alberta, in the middle of the Canadian Rockies, in 1993.  I was living there at the time and they decided to join me.  My dad had just been through a rough few years with the death of my mother and a brief failed marriage, and he chose nature as his method of healing from the loss.  So with my 4-year-old brother, Liam, in tow, he started climbing mountains.

His first mountain summit started out as a mountain bike ride.  My dad had the heaviest mountain bike in town, and the only mountain bike that had a baby seat screwed on over the back tire.  As my dad ascended Pyramid Mountain, my baby brother squealed, “Faster, daddy, faster!!”  When the trail diminished into boulders, they hopped off the bike and began scrambling over the rocks, climbing higher and higher.  Before they knew it, they had summited.  Thus began a couple of decades of backpacking and mountain climbing, and living life in a tiny tent.

My dad has a small one bedroom apartment, where he has lived since 1994.  He never felt the need to get a bigger place because whenever Liam wasn’t in school they were exploring and sleeping in a tent.  Their home away from home is cozy, often quite chilly, but has the best view imaginable.  And it has everything they need, which isn’t much at all.

My dad and Liam.  The world is their playground.

The scrambling is a little more sophisticated these days.  But it’s still just the bare necessities.

Another unusual Harrap tradition – ever since Liam was a tot, room in the tiny tent was always made for Grinny and his wife Gwvera, a couple of nature-loving bunnies.

An ice axe, helmet, boots and beer.  What more does one really need?

Tiny shelter in a vast landscape.  According to my dad, “When you’re plodding up the mountain trying to make the summit, and you look down and see that tiny dot, and you know you’ve got the difficult down-climbing to do, you’ve got a hankering for that little tent. Because, right now, that’s your home.”

Grinny and Gwvera making tea in the tiny kitchen.

A tour of this garden is breathtaking.

Cairns usually help to keep you on a trail or signify the top of something.

I think this cairn signifies a spectacular view.

Each and every time my dad embarks on a backpacking or climbing trip he encounters a new, exciting, wonderful experience in nature.  On his recent trip, “I did find something amazing – a freshly dug grizzly bear den.  (Now there’s a small home if ever there was one; the big fella wouldn’t have space even to have a roll and a good scratch.) Fortunately, the owner wasn’t  home.”

My dad, David Harrap, is currently writing a book entitled, Streams Full of Stars, about his life with Liam.  I’m not sure when it will be available for purchase, but I will keep you posted.

Rebecca Knabe

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7 thoughts on “Dear Ol’ Dad

  1. Your Dad sounds like a wonderful, wonderful man. I hope his book is a roaring success. I can only imagine the beauty he sees on his climbs. I think most of us have way too much stuff and get disconnected sometimes from the real world that is out there- xo Diana

  2. Wow, what a life of adventure your Dad and brother have led! This bond that they share is so special. I envy them in many ways and think that your Dad’s really got it all figured out. Do keep us posted on the book release. I’d love to read it!

    And thanks so much for your kind comment on my blog. I do hope you don’t mind that I posted images of your awesome home. I’m not sure how to reply directly to comments (perhaps my blogger template just doesn’t give me the option), so I just replied to you on my comments page. And I’ll repost it here too:

    Thank YOU for sharing your beautiful home and your story. Your home is truly special, and I cannot imagine it being more perfect 🙂 How neat that you saw our Apt Therapy tour! And isn’t it funny how small the blog world actually is?

    • I don’t mind at all that you posted my pics. It’s exciting to have interest in my story. 🙂 I loved your tour – your place has so much character with all the bright colors and fun artwork.

  3. Is your dad really Michael Palin? Because he’s so adorable! 😉 I love this post! I do think that nature is one of the best ways to heal oneself. Gorgeous photos! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Pingback: Liam’s Expedition | trailerchic

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