Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Rock and snow, way to go!

From McBride it was Route 16 right on down to Jasper. A night's cccamp in cccold ccconditions saw me fit for the next leg, expected to be one of the highlights! Highway 93, all the way through the glacial fields and on into the Montana. Like so many of the Canadian roads they promised nothing of excitement in the road itself, fairly straight and monotonous, depending almost solely on the surrounding countryside for relief from terminal boredom. Many people had talked about this section of road, from Jasper to Banff, as a not to be missed journey. From what I'd seen coming towards jasper, and from the town itself, it showed a lot of promise.

I was utterly awestruck, capable of only making noises to the effect of Waaaaa and sshhhiiii-iiiitte. Speed was kept at no more than 60 mph, yes it was that good, with constant stops. I couldn't believe it took me over an hour and a half to cover 50 miles. It got the the point where it had to force myself to continue riding; otherwise I would never have left the park. I just wanted to photograph everything, from every angle. The views to one side would have me totally mesmerised, then I'd glance round and be swept away by how phenomenal the formations were on that side.

Amazing layered rock, most of what I could see; a big variation in the colour though. One series would be sandy coloured, obviously sedimentary, whilst others would be multi-hued and veined with snow. From the angle of layers it was easy to see from where, and in what direction, the original push on the earth's crust was. Even two peaks joined by a ridge had contorted differently, one receiving loads more upthrust along one edge; the other had risen fairly equally.

The immensity was something else, how easy it was to feel small and insignificant. Shown here is one mountain a few miles beyond what can be seen of the road. The distance between the ranges on each side of the road wasn't that far, this is meant to be one of the longest glacial troughs there are. Called the Columbian Ice fields, nothing to do with that country, it carries on much further than I followed it for.

Obviously the glacial field was highlighted for the glaciers themselves. To be honest I didn't stop at the largest, or supposed, most spectacular. These were heaving with people and bus tours! And I don't just mean buses carrying them to the glacier, they were special designed buses for trips over the glacier. As I didn't think they'd let me have a go on the bike, I only had a cursory look and carried on.

Far more interesting was the way the glaciers flowed down the mountainsides. Some looked almost like cream flowing out a jug, it gathered on successive ledges as it descended, to flow even thicker to the next ledge. There were many like this, such a shame they couldn't all be closely observed with no time restrictions. With light flurries of snow, on such a bright sunny day, I really can't shake the feeling of needing to head south. Anyway, the only way to take in very much would be to walk the whole route. A whole stack of memory cards would be useful as well, I've got through so much already.

The whole day was exception, spent in a mountain wonderland, absolutely spectacular. My head state was much improved before this, afterwards....head state, what's that? But I have kept Cai very much in mind, positively! Yep, I even speak to him; shame he doesn't answer, but if it makes me feel good, then so be it. More importantly is opening up my heart and feeling the love I'll always hold for him. I can even write that without crying, at the moment anyway. I'm sure it hasn't suddenly gone, never to return!

As you can see, I've decided my old lid was too loose, allowing too much wind noise, after many attempts I finally found another I'm happy with. So I've got a nice shiney helmet!

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