That was Mary’s comment on the road immediately outside of Valemount, heading to Mt. Robson Provincial Park, where we have been camping for the past almost-week.
We made the drive from Grande Cache safely down, after a brief stopover in Edson, to return our borrowed radio, satellite phone, and fall-arrest harness.
Leaving Grande Cache was bittersweet. The affinity we felt for Willmore was in large part due to its magnificence, but also because we got to see so much of the south-eastern corner. Those last few days were truly wonderful. The morning we left, the valley fog spirits greeted us – a sight we had only seen once before, leaving the base on our spectacular Sunday morning:
On the drive out, we were greeted by a young moose who was nibbling on the roadside grasses when we passed. After a curious head pop-up, he took off, and we didn’t slow enough for the image to turn out quite perfect, but here he was:
We stayed at the Tete Jaune Lodge, and got a nice room. Here Jenna’s cute little nanna-knitted doll that she picked up in Nordegg, on our wonderfully quilted bed-cover:
There was a giant teepee just at the end of the building we were in, and we did inquire about staying in it, but it looks like it might not work out at this point.
We’ve been camping instead! So fun!
This mountain is enormous. At 3954 m it is the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies. It towers in the sky, filling the valley corners with another snowy flank, another layered-cake ridge. It is reverently referred to in the writing I’ve seen about it so far, and it commands about 90-95% of the attention in the park that carries its name. It sees hundreds (if not thousands) of tourists and passersby every day – our luck that we’ve been here over the long weekend. The first glimpses of if were really impressive, even on a cloudy day! We drove in on a rainy, stormy night, found Tete Jaune, and bundled in for the night. We saw this view of Mt. Robson the next day:
BC Parks has been wonderful in their support of our project. They were generous in working with us to establish a make-shift office in the basement of the Visitor’s Center! Here, our first innovative set-up:
We’ve since set up a gorgeous wooden table that fits all of us, slotted in between two beautiful fish displays. The basement has also been an incredible blessing: it’s relatively quiet, and COOL. Upstairs, with not only the daytime heat that builds, but also the ebbs and flows of the tourist traffic — it wouldn’t be a good space to work in. So, we’ve had a great time in our basement work bastion.
Our phenomenal project supervisor, Eric Higgs, was able to join us, and will be with us for about a week! The day after he got in, we were up in the backwoods, hiking along the section of Yellowhead Mountain Trail that got us close to our Wheeler 1911 Yellowhead Pass Station, which views down a significant stretch of that pass. We had a 1.5 km bushwhack though some relatively formidable brush, with slide alder and a native rhododendron, and hordes of mosquitoes. Here a shot I snapped, quickly losing sight of my compatriots:
What ebullience when Jenna found an old cairn that lined up with our shots! Here are a few choice shots from this station:
Even after a few days of being at our Robson River Campsite, when we walked down to the riverbank two nights ago, we found a beautiful angle looking at the mountain. Stunning! Photos like these makes me happy to be in this breathtaking area:
Yesterday morning we spent several hours tromping through the local historical sites with the Valemount Visitor Center Manager Bruce Wilkinson. What a guy! So generous with his knowledge, enthusiasm, and kindness. Sesame snaps were gobbled in between visits to the old Red Pass station, old Japanese internment meditation gardens, the old Lucerne townsite and cemetery, and a number of other beautiful, haunted places. We had a blast with him, and as our tour-guide, having as receptive an audience as we were, is probably what really makes him glad to share what he knows! Here the historical reference shot that we took from the side of Yellowhead Lake:
What an incredible reflection! It was a perfect day, if slightly warm.
We have had a tumultuous last few days, in terms of planning. We left Mt. Robson Provincial Park yesterday at about 3PM, and drove along the spectacular Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93), in to the Shunda Fire Base, where we were greeted to the friendliest familiar faces: the camp cooks and our pilot, Allison, who we had finished up in the Willmore with! We scarfed down dinner, as we were all quite hungry then, and unpacked the truck, trundled into our rooms, did a bit of last minute planning for the next day, and off we went to bed!
I don’t know that that morning any of us had foreseen us moving base so quickly!
More MLP adventures from the Clearwater region, soon!
We’ll close with one more exceptional image of Mt. Robson: