Good thing we did. By the time we arrived, we’d driven around the bottom of the clouds and back out into the sun. Close to the continental divide, a chinook wind had bumped the temperature up 10 degrees to a balmy 14C. It was the perfect day to be poking around in a mountain stream, enjoying the black and white contrast of partially snow-covered mountains, and listening to the wind whistle in the pine/spruce forest.
There’s something about being surrounded by sharp peaks, with their steep talus slopes and green treed skirts, that makes me feel at home. The gurgling of a clear, cold stream as it follows the easiest path downhill is a pleasant soundtrack to this jagged vista. Maybe that’s why I became a mountain hydrologist – just rocks, hills, and water – with the wind sighing (or gusting!) across it all.
I started off working in the central Canadian Rockies which, come summer, are infested with tourists like fleas on a dog. This was where I first got hooked on that irresistible combination of rocks, water and ice. I followed this addiction to Ellesmere Island, where the mountains peeked out from under a thick blanket of ice and had few human visitors. Then the north Coast Mountains, the constant fog banks glowing with the greenish fluorescent tinge of a temperate rainforest sustained by prolific Pacific moisture. And to BC’s Interior Plateau: friendly, rolling hills that belie the flatness of the name. Then back to the Arctic – this time Devon Island, with its flattened mountain peaks that drip glacier ice into the valleys below. Now I’m back in the Rockies and the Interior Plateau – just farther south than before.
One thing is for sure – the mountains will always be home. So if you can’t catch me in the office and I’m not answering my email – I’ve likely headed for the hills!
*Note – I’d show more of my own photos if they were on this computer…