Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Wild Blue Yonder

When was the last time you said adios to the real world just stepped out of time for a bit with only a general direction in mind? 

Too long ago I suspect! The first time I did it I was 25. I packed up my VW bus and Charis, the handsome fellow above, and headed for Canada in Summer of 1970. We spent a month exploring British Columbia and Western Alberta, and for a couple of weeks traveled with a couple of other free spirits from CA. We first crossed paths a Yoho National Park and decided to head east to the Rockies and Alberta. We camped in Banff and then headed up the Icefields Parkway to Jasper, setting up camp at the base of Mt. Edith Cavell. We went exploring every day for a week and found some of the most beautiful places I had ever seen: Miette Hot Springs, Medicine Lake, Malign Canyon and Athabasca Falls.

One afternoon we climbed a ridge behind Punch Bowl Falls and found a midden of trash (Tin Can Alley) from a former mining camp closed 50 years before. We dug for hours in the middle of a rain storm, fighting off mosquitoes the size of goldfinches, and rescued some old glass bottles, Hudson Bay crocks, and other wondrous stuff. I still have the Roses and Co lime juice bottle in the window to catch the morning light. 

As we turned west to head home, we stopped at Mt. Robson, the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, to hike up to Berg Lake and camp. The hike is 14 miles UP and took us a couple of days. We first went through a rain forest with moss so thick it was like a mattress to walk on. As we continued to climb we came around a bend to a valley where every tree had been strewn about like pickup sticks, no doubt at the hand of some long past avalanche. Pushing on we set up camp at White Horse Station on the porch of an old ranger cabin. It was in the middle of a forested valley surrounded on three sides by steep vertical walls. That night there was a thunderstorm. When we awoke at dawn we heard the sound of water. The morning light revealed crystal blue skies and hundreds of waterfalls all around us. We learned later the area was called Valley of a 1000 Falls, aptly named I'd say! 

We continued our trek until early afternoon where we came into a valley that looked like a rocky moonscape, no vegetation to speak of. We waded across an icy river and around the next bend we found Berg Lake with a small flotilla of ice bergs on its surface. There was a hand built log lodge at the edge of the forest, and across the lake was the glacier. We set up camp and stretched out to relax and rest our weary bones. Then came the highlights of the entire adventure. Have you ever heard a glacier calve? Have you seen an ice face, that seemed the size of small state break away and fall into the water like a breaching whale? The thunderous sounds and sights left us at a loss for words. We were treated to a number of these events that day and the next.

When we started the hike out we were determined to make it in a day. It took 7 hours, our feet were not happy, but what kept us moving was the thought of a Mountain Burger at the joint at the end of the trail where we were parked. Food had never tasted so good! 

As far as stepping out of time again, my husband and I are plotting to follow in the tracks of my late parents and spend more time on blue highways than at home!

"Away from home, and the daily routines of life and people, time comes unhinged. A peculiar sense of always having been gone, of all other lives being just a memory or a dream. This disconnection allows for behaviors that wouldn't be considered in the familiar matrix of everyday life. Without the checks and balances, of friends and family, risks are taken and rules are forgotten. The road beckons."

Happy Trails