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Transcript for Good Days and Bad Days - The backcountry wardens of Jasper National Park

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An average day? Well an average day is, first thing, get up

And um… find your horses

Maybe… make a cup of coffee, start a fire and grab a cup of coffee on your way out the door

And bring your horses back and then, get your horses packed up and hit the trail

(TEXT) Good Days & Bad Days: The Backcountry Wardens of Jasper National Park

[The horses are now saddled, the camera looks down at the head of a horse while he walks through green grass over Snake Indian Pass.]

Um… Our work is, you know, endless I think.we're looking at

[Patti checks the batteries on a remote wildlife monitoring camera.]

Anywhere from wildlife monitoring objectives, to…

[Patti performs maintenance on a bridge over the Smoky River.]

Bridges that may be washed out, we're doing

Routine maintenance

[Patti wades across the surging smoky river.]

Minor re-routes for areas that are washed out we're…

[Patti uses a chainsaw to cut a tree that blocks the trail. ]

Clearing trail. Every day that I do travel the trails I carry a chainsaw.

[A series of shots show close ups of what the inside of a warden’s cabin contains.]

We keep a pretty good handle on the cabins that we have.

What kind of supplies are needed, and whether there's any major issues. Painting issues, flooring issues

So that we can get it done so the places are there for another 75, 80 years.

[Four horses walk from the right of the screen to the left in a valley in front of a massive rock face, the horses continue down the trail past a beautiful glacial lake and rock slides.]

Ah, well a good day, and you never know if it's going to be a good day or a bad day…

But a good day would be: the bugs are dying down, your horses are happy,

We're working as a team and every body is getting along.

The colours are changing and and everything is going just right. That would be a good day

[Rain falls from the roofing of the Smoky River warden station, Patti guides her horses across the Smoky River, and we see a bridge with a good deal of debris washed against it. ]

Some times you're out there and you're questioning the decisions

that have brought you to that place and you're wondering if you must be crazy

Because you can have some really bad days, when your horses are gone,

and you're wet and cold and you still have many hours to go to get some place

But, yeah, sometimes in the evenings it can be pretty fantastic, you know.

You kind of have the place to yourself and you feel pretty lucky… for sure.

It means a lot to me, I guess. It means that you're working with a team of people

that all look out for eachother and help eachother.

When I started in the back country a lot that I was learning was passed down for nearly 100 years

[Patti pauses to look at a blaze in a tree which is carved with the year 1934]

I guess yeah, it is a family. There is a long legacy to the warden's service.

Yeah, it's pretty humbling actually, you can read through some of the old log books,

and it's pretty entertaining to read some of the old stories, and the days that people have had… you can really relate to

[A sequence shows a tree that’s fallen across the trail, Patti cuts the tree and clears the trail, we then see the cut log followed by a cut log covered with moss on the side of the trail from a warden many years ago.]

late days, or missing horses, or accidents, you know you really feel like you're part of something

So it's pretty great. It's pretty fulfilling to work in the backcountry.

[Patti leads her horses past the downed tree she just cleared off the trail.]

For me it's getting those projects done, and that hard work again,

at the end of the day you really feel like you've accomplished something

My name's Al McKeeman. I've been a warden for about 19 years here, now, I guess.

My name is Patti Walker, I'm a backcountry specialist here in Jasper National Park, and I've been working in the backcountry, on the north boundary in fact, for 10 years.

(TEXT) Shot on location over 13 days and 231km with backcountry specialist Patti Walker on Jasper National Park's North Boundary Trail.

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© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by Parks Canada, 2012.

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