Oldies at Large – Rocky Mountains High

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 7.00.30 pmI ticked off a few things on my bucket list for the Rockies today and it was a great day. We are camped up in the Canadian Rocky Mountains in the Yoho National Park at Monarch campsite. The name comes from an old zinc and lead mine, which also produced paying gold and silver. Where the miners once lived and worked is now the campsite, as with Kicking Horse camp a few steps from Monarch.

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 7.00.54 pmThere are a few things I wanted to do while in this part of the Northern Hemisphere… one was to check out Walmart. An odd thought I know but I discovered that it is just like the Loonie, Toonie you spend there. In Aussie speak, Walmart is a mega $2 shop with groceries and that about sums it up.

We also discovered Tim Horton’s, a burger place like Macca’s only slightly different. I have always had trouble with Macca’s as I don’t like sweet bread, I don’t like mayo and I am none too keen on their cheese either. Tim Horton fast food outlets have addressed some of the issues for me. I decided on a biscuit and bacon… though I confused the girl by asking for a bacon bun. This meal in Aussie speak was a scone like fried roll, once more too sweet for my tastes. A scrambled egg puffed up, rounded off and cooked solid… I like runny eggs. The coffee/mocca was the powdered variety lacking the creamy milk and I think I have now “been there… done that… don’t want the t-shirt thank you.

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 6.55.56 pmBut what was more interesting was the trip today. We came along the lakes way after leaving the Thompson River… up through the valley following the rail line, the river and the traffic. Everything comes up these valleys and there is some simply breathtaking scenery. We have climbed up and past 1,000ft in altitude and the snow-caps have turned into sledges of snow, which at times drop down the rugged cliff-face. Avalanches abound here too and the scars that remain on these hard, grey rock mountainsides are simply awe-inspiring.

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 7.04.35 pmWe saw another marmot, in fact we saw several of the cute little beggars playing around our current camp high in the mountains. These high mountain groundhogs are a much finer build than their lower living cousins but they still are as entertaining as Punch to watch. There are bear warnings all about and leaving foodstuffs out is not an option at all so as we curl up tonight I am gunna be glad of the protection of the car around me.

The craggy mountain tops all around us are a delight and I love their stark beauty. The slate and shale rock glistens and glitters a glass grey in the sun, where the snow has left the mountain. I could sit here for ages examining the scars of time and the drift of scree amongst the scattering of ice and snow now remnant of winter.

The world Chinook comes from these mountains, they refer to the winds and in Aussie speak that is a helicopter. Our Army/Airforce uses them and my kids will know the term well. The highest peak in the Canadian Rockies is Mount Robson at near 4,000m above sea level while we now are just over 1,000m high. They are craggy and beautifully stark peaks these mountains, which have been thrust up from the earth forming a natural barrier, the backbone of the continent.

I read an interesting comment on the definition of ‘wilderness’. As an Aussie, to me wilderness is remote, isolated and demanding. There are few people to be found about purely because of these factors. In an Aussie wilderness the landscape is dominated by the processes of nature and those things still wild and free in our world, live without interference from man. As an ‘animal’ travelling across the land you become one of those ‘things’ within the landscape.

Yet the Rockies are classified as a wilderness, not one that I would easily recognize but a wilderness none the less. This is because they are ‘a large area characterized by the dominance of the natural process and the absence of human constraints on nature.’

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 7.58.22 amYes these mountains qualify most certainly as a wilderness, even though people move through the landscape now in a constant unremitting stream. It is perhaps the first real wilderness I have acknowledged purely because of the dominance of nature over man. Camping out in the Dodge is a lot of fun and surprisingly comfy … I can recommend it. Though it seems RV’s rule the camp sites here for sure.

I still can’t find an auto-teller though. And that statement will have Aussies in stitches… Finding another person, let alone an auto-teller in the Aussie wilderness is a biggie.

Happy travelling

Interesting stats’

  1. Visitors to the Rockies (Banff) comprise of:
  2. 58% are from Alberta (W. Canada) half of these from around Calgary (nearest big city)
  3. 17% from USA
  4. 7% Europe
  5. 18% Other places including other parts of Canada <- Incl. Aussies

Jan is an Australian author and writer. You can find our more about her publications at her official web site. Be sure to check out the reader discounts there.

Jan an Naum

Rockies FP smallRead the full travelogue of Jans adventures in the e-book ‘The Rockies and the Greater NW USA’ now available at Amazon for just $US1.99




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