“I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me.”
This week marks the two year anniversary of my little travel blog and almost 12 years since I had my first travel article published. Because I’m feeling a bit sentimental – and because I’ve been reminiscing a lot about Canada lately – I thought I’d share my first writing success here.
It’s so weird reading my old words. In hindsight, the article below reads a bit like a travel brochure and is not written in the style that I feel most comfortable in … which is sharing my adventures through first-person narrative.
But I can’t help it. I LOVE this article. Firstly, it’s about one of my favourite places in the world – the Canadian Rockies. And secondly, an editor liked it enough to publish it!!
I’ll never forget the phone call that I received from the editor’s assistant at The Sunday Mail (a Queensland newspaper), telling me that my article had been published and asking me to send an invoice. It had taken a year of sending articles and photographs – and a mountain of rejection letters – before I experienced that moment.
I was so excited. I literally jumped around the office (where I worked part-time) telling anyone who would listen. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
That was the beginning of something special for me.
It’s hard to describe. But last week I was watching an episode of the television show Parenthood. Hank (a photographer) was talking about how important it was that Max (a 14-year old with Asperger syndrome) had found photography. But he was also talking about himself.
He said: “When you find your thing it’s like [finding] a life-raft in the storm.” And then, because he wasn’t sure he’d been understood, he mumbled “…the stormy sea of life.”
Those words struck a chord with me (which is another way of saying, I cried).
It took me a very long time to work out what I wanted to do with my life and, I admit, I still wander aimlessly at times! But I love travel. And I love taking photographs. And I love writing about my travels. The fact that I can generate some income while doing something that I’m passionate about is priceless to me. This is my life-raft.
*I did warn you I was feeling sentimental*
So, anyhow, here’s my trip down memory-lane with my first published travel article. I hope you enjoy it.
Rockies’ icefields of dreams
(Note: I named this article Window on wilderness, but it was published under this title)
Travelling north from Lake Louise to Jasper is a classic road trip along the Icefields Parkway. Known as a window on wilderness, the road cuts a trail through the breathtaking scenery of Banff and Jasper national parks in the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
This is a spectacular land with crystal-clear rivers, rushing waterfalls, snow-capped mountains and emerald lakes; where alpine meadows are adorned with colourful wildflowers and wildlife abounds. Here grizzly bears, black bears, moose and elk are common sights, whether you are sightseeing from the comfort of your car or hiking on the many trails.
A great place to begin is Lake Louise, whose mood changes depending on the time of day. At first light, a mirror image of Victoria Glacier shimmers on the surface of the lake. You immediately understand how it became known as the jewel of the Rockies.
Further north is Peyto Lake, reputedly the bluest glacial lake in the Rockies. At the beginning of summer it is a deep blue, but as the glacier melts and runs into the lake, it becomes a brilliant turquoise. Tourists have been known to ask locals if the lake is drained each year in order to paint the bottom.
The colour is created when the water, muddy with rocks, gravel and silt, runs off the glaciers. Upon flowing into the icy lake, most of this debris sinks to the bottom, but fine particles of dust – known as rock flour – remain suspended in the water. As sunlight hits the lake, these particles scatter the blue-green rays of light to form the lake’s distinctive colour.
The Icefields Parkway gets its name from Colombia Icefield, which covers 325sq km with solid ice up to 350m deep. An icefield, to be classified as such, must feed two glaciers. The Columbia Icefield feeds six, and although it appears tranquil, is has been responsible for shaping much of the landscape. Melt water feeds four major river systems and flows into three oceans (the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic).
Athabasca Glacier is part of the Columbia Icefield and, weather permitting, it is possible to board a snowmobile and take a trip onto the glacier for a walk. While there, it is worth tasting the icy cold glacial waters, supposed to bestow long life. It is some of the purest water known – the legacy of ice that formed from falling snow 150 years ago, which is now melting.
The township of Jasper is a gem set amongst green forests, soaring snow-capped mountains, deep canyons and hot springs. From here you can explore the further reaches of the national park, including Maligne Lake, Whistler Mountain and the spectacular Mt Edith Cavell.
A nurse of great courage, Edith Cavell risked her life to save Allied soldiers during World War I and ultimately paid the highest price. The Germans executed her by firing squad in Brussels on October 12, 1915.
“I know now that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred and no bitterness towards anyone,” she had said.
She became a martyr and, fittingly, the magnificent mountain that graces Jasper was named in her honour. Following the Path of the Glacier brings you to a blue melt water lake at the foot of Angel Glacier. The ice spreading out from the top of the glacier resembles the wings of an angel who is watching over nature’s majesty.
From here you can walk another trail to Cavell Meadows Lookout. As you stroll among the wildflowers, spotting the occasional chipmunk, there are spectacular views back to Angel Glacier. As mountaineer Conrad Kain once said, “I think myself fortunate amidst the peace and quiet of nature”, and the Canadian Rockies are just the place to discover he is correct.
I have written several blogs about the Canadian Rockies, so if you’re interested in reading more click on the links below.
Awesome hikes: Crypt Lake
Hiking gems in the Canadian Rockies
You are in bear country