Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's A Grapefruit Moon


Moon Rising Over Canadian Rockies
South of Banff, Alberta, Canada

The light of a full, citron moon held the sky in azure blue long after darkness had fallen. Slipping into a creamy white, it lit our drive through the Canadian Rockies as we made our way to Banff from Kalispell, Montana. There we had toured Glacier National Park and had seen magnificent mountains rising into clouds, leaving emerald canyons and dales below the "Going to the Sun" Road. What a name for a road, but it is perfect for this road which climbs in elevation high enough to give your tummy a bounce. After 2 days in the northwestern corner of Montana we headed to Banff, Alberta, Canada, an alpine hideaway tucked into the side of the Rockies. We were excited as we ventured into the wildness of these mountains, hoping for a bear sighting the next day. As long as I rested against ice packs I could focus on the thrill ahead when daylight would invite us to explore. I began our journey with pulled muscles in my lumbar and sacral areas and the contractions where the hamstrings connect to the torso made my right leg ache as though it were too short for any thought of walking.

Just before the sun set we came upon a herd of big horn sheep crossing the busy road leading into Banff National Park. It was interesting to observe an entire herd crouched on a steep hillside as they watched one large male make his way among the cars in busy evening traffic. One by one they slowly came down the hill and followed his steps, each crossing the street. They had no regard for traffic and moved as though they instinctively knew the cars would stop and people would jump from their vehicles, camera in hand. This was our first exposure to the noble beauty of big horn sheep, and we were overjoyed at our luck on this summer evening.

After our arrival in Banff we had a late night dinner in our room courtesy of 24 hour room service in this grand, old hotel called The Rimrock where the chefs happily prepare what you request in addition to the menu's offerings as long as the ingredients are available. We began our journey into the wild the next day and started with Lake Louise where friends of ours had seen 2 bears ambling lakeside one morning in June. No such luck for us. Far too many people walked along the water's edge. Boaters were paddling in the alpine lake while children squealed and guests of the huge Fairmont Chateau Resort milled about in the distance. Too much human activity to bring bears out for play. The alpine lakes in Montana, Alberta, and here at home in Washington appear deep aqua and turquoise in color because they are fed by snow melt from the glaciers which carry rich glacial sediment. The water seems transparent; rocks along the bottom are as easily seen as if they lay on the water's edge. These lakes are stunning because the vivid colors contrast dramatically with the mountains which rise behind them.

Later we drove north into Jasper National Park to the Columbia Icefields to find the area where 100+ glaciers rise among these mountains, mountains whose faces are as varied as man's. Some look like rocky sculptures with intricate etchings while others, forested in many hues of green, host vegetation. My favorites were perhaps the ones which looked most like sand. Eroding stone showed the wear of the wind from so many years and now resembled sand castles with turrets and domes. The Athabasca Glacier can be seen at close distance if one wants to walk the trail to the area which still contains ice. For safety purposes it is cordoned off by ropes; huge holes can open with little warning. As we entered the parking area we noticed small roadside signs containing dates: 1948, 1992, etc., dates showing where the glacial area had once extended many years before. We were overwhelemed by the physical evidence of global warming. Our nieces' children will have no Icefields to visit here.

At every turn we found mountains of different color, different texture, different beauty, all capturing our attention and giving us a new perspective. Deer and fawns darted in and out of large wooded areas giving us new hope for sightings of moose, elk, and bear. Climbing 8,000 feet in elevation we found ourselves winding in S curves along a narrow paved road which hugged the mountainside and made me a bit dizzy when I looked out and down. Anytime cars were parked along the roadside we learned there was likely some nearby wildlife. We pulled off to find 2 big horn ewes with their 2 young lambs grazing on the side of a very steep mountain.

We continued to see wildlife during out adventures but never found a bear. Three times during our trip we learned we had missed a bear sighting by only a few moments. People near us would have photographs, but the bear had gone back into the brush as we arrived. We saw a young female elk grazing near a river in Jasper just before our last dinner in the Rockies. We had hoped for a moose but happily accepted this special moment in nature.

There was a grapefruit moon suspended over the Rockies, arresting alpine scenery at every turn, crystalline turquoise lakes, glimpses at wildlife we would not ordinarily see, sumptuous food prepared by award winning chefs, and the company of my beloved all to serenade me during my birthday celebration in our Rocky Mountain retreat. Even though the week was scattered with pain this special celebration, wrapped in nurturing love and majestic beauty, was splendid. Many adventures await us in these towering Canadian mountains, and I am sure a bear sighting is among them!


All photography is from our personal collection
and may not be copied or used in any manner
without written permission.

20 comments:

Dale said...

Oh, how beautiful! Thank you.

mermaid said...

'Going to The Sun' Road? Maybe there should also be 'Going to The Moon' Road? The photographs and your description are exquisite. What a perfect gift of sense healing after your surgery.

Tabor said...

Beautifully written and makes me want to join the magic. Interestingly, we are planning a trip out that way next fall!! Now you have given me a taste. We are trying to arrange a time-share exchange, so do not have a clue where we will be staying.

mb in Port Angeles said...

So glad you had your time in Banff and Jasper parks. Lakes of improbable colors, mountains and mountains and mountains.

Your observation about the world your niece's children will have really struck home; my niece is having a baby in November. It's going to be hard to hold little Julia's tiny hands, that aren't yet born, and know what we have made for her.

Tammy said...

I didn't know you went to Montana? What an amazing birthday adventure! I hope every year is an adventure. HUG

wenda said...

Good luck with all your sightings! I appreciate your photo captures.

Susie Hemingway said...

Such a beautiful journey you have allowed me to go on this evening as I read your mavellous blog. Such description!, such simply wonderful photos!.I have been on an enchanting journey and have not even packed a case.
I do hope you are feeling well now.

One Woman's Journey said...

Thank you for allowing me to go on this wonderful journey with you.
Beautifully written and exquisite images.

leslee said...

What a beautiful trip, bear or not! I've been to Glacier, but never to the Canadian Rockies. I hear it's amazing.

Brenda said...

What a sumptuous feast you have given us as you celebrated your birthday in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. I've read your entry a few times, remembering my own trip through the Rockies two decades ago, camping at Takkakow Falls, the majesty of the peaks and beauty of the valleys. Beautiful writing, beautiful photographs. Thank you... xo

colleen said...

I'm mesmerized! By the magnificent photos and the poetic narrative. And now the moon in newly full again.

Pauline said...

What an amazing journey! And your photos are simply stunning. Makes me want to travel NOW!

♥nova-san said...

I traveled that way a number of years ago, but I never saw all this beauty that you've captured here in your photographs. I must have had my eyes closed the entire trip.

Thanks for opening it back up. :-)

colleen said...

Breathtaking views and poetic verses. Now it is full again and I am doing a double take.

rdl said...

Beautiful shots!!What a wonderful trip. wish my blogroll worked so i knew when you updated.

WoodSong said...

So much beauty! I haven't visited that region myself in so many years. (nor visited your blog in way too long as well) I'm glad to read that you're healing well from your surgery Sky and wishing you many more wonderful journeys ahead :)

Brighid said...

I miss your posts! Hope everything is well.
Haven't got into the blog roll thing yet, such a newbe I am.

Suzann said...

blessings abound dear sister - I hope you are healing and want to say I hope you have as much joy as you can stand in the year ahead. thank you for being in my life. xo

Pauline said...

Hope you're okay and coming back soon to post more spectacular photos and gracious words@

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

Wow! Thanks for a beautiful post!