Mile after mile, acres and acres, as far as the eye can see - such clichés are pitifully weak for the grandness of this western landscape. Millions of spiky fir trees cover valleys and swarm up mountain slopes, cloaking a vast Canadian wilderness.
It is autumn. Here and there the grey-green forested slopes are lightened by buttery yellow patches of aspen or tamarack, holding onto summer’s sunshine until winter arrives.
Jagged snowy peaks, true skyscrapers, dwarf man-made cement towers, even those named CN or Trump. Each row of these granite giants is backed by other innumerable crags. Mere humans gasp at such magnitude. Our eyes and minds strain to cope with the views, and our spirits soar with joy.
Thousands of narrow waterfalls plunge down impossibly steep mountainsides into rivers that twist their way through narrow gorges. These streams rush and race toward icy lakes and on to the oceans west and north. Here is its source, faithful quencher and cleanser, the watery miracle that keeps us alive.
Seen close up, the rivers’ turquoise waters ripple over sculpted rocky beds; scarlet salmon idle in the current.
Why turquoise? Why scarlet? Glorious art.
Away from the exhilarating sound of running water, there is different music. In this remote wonderland, small birds chirp, tweet or screech: midnight-blue western Jays, black and white Magpies in their formalwear, tiny round Chickadees all singing. Quails, wearing white clerical collars above their brown tweed vests, coo and cluck, a one-feathered “fascinator” springing hilariously from each head.
Human giggles add to the birdsong.
And the animals: taupe mountain goats graze in groups, white-tailed deer nervously raise their furry oval ears, casual coyotes trot by in the dusk, and elk loudly clack their antlers, male to male. None of these is tamed; any might be dangerous. Oh, their beauty, their wild life.
Beyond words there is deepest, reverent gratitude.