A Remarkable Moment   (11.05.22)

Rundle Wall

Last week I made my first cycling trip to Canmore for the year.  No, I didn’t ride all the way from Cochrane, I drove up to Seebee and started from there.  This is a regular half-day cycling outing for me.  The road wanders through the Bow Valley with lakes and mountains on both sides.  There is one other good feature to the ride - there are some great places for coffee and a snack in Canmore.

One of the rules of cycling is to try to head out into a wind and come home with the wind behind you.  The Bow Valley offers this sort of wind and offers it constantly.  The wind sweeps down from the Kananaskis, through the gap near Mt. Lougheed and then down the throat of the Bow Valley on its way to the prairies.  My cycle route takes me up through this throat and gives me an extra work out in a short distance.  I guess I should be thankful for that, but I’m not.

That day last week was pristine.  The sky was blue for the most part, with some clouds scudding along above the tops of the mountains, driven by the westerly wind.  I started out with my head down, trying to create the least resistance to the wind on my bike, but soon found that was too boring so I raised my eyes and looked around to refresh myself with scenery that I like so much and hadn't paid much attention to since last Fall.  Passing through scenery on a bicycle is more intense than driving down the same road in a car.  On the bike there is time to notice things, time to smell the odours, and time to connect with a herd of mountain sheep who challenge for the right to be on the road at all.

I usually head to Canmore's town centre for a treat at the restaurant called CommuniTea, but that day I thought I would like to try a new place called The Summit.  It is located in one of the higher communities in Canmore and commands a view of the valley.  When I arrived, the place wasn’t crowded, there was ample room to safely park my bicycle, and the staff were friendly and helpful.  There were a few groups of young women hanging out and talking mostly about activities or planned workouts.  Clearly, these were people interested in athletics of some sort.  They looked the part - fit and enthusiastic.  Ah yes, I remember those years.  I’m still enthusiastic about physical stuff, but these days I need to make sure I do it at my own pace.

I finished my lunch and then stepped out on the patio to get my bike ready for the trip back to Seebee.  As I stood there and looked up it happened.  For some reason, I was overwhelmed by the mountains at that moment.  The day before had been stormy, so the rocks and crags of the mountains were covered in snow, but the ridges were poking through, providing a contrasting black on white outline that made the view look like a pen and ink drawing.  The air was so clear that the peaks seemed to be right on top of me.  I’m not sure if I staggered on my feet or not from the visual impact, but I did sit down and soak up the feeling.  It was all familiar stuff: the Rundle Wall, Ehagay Nakoda(1) , and the Three Sisters, but that day they all came together to force me to look at them carefully.

It took a few minutes for me to decide to delay my plan to cycle back and really let myself go in the moment.  I’m usually very project-driven, don't you know.  It worked and I felt marvellous as I mounted my bike about twenty minutes later.  The ride back to Seebee was a breeze, literally.  The westerly was now in my favour and it helped to blow me home with that mountain image floating around in my head.

1-This is the Stoney-Nakoda name for Mt. Lawrence Grassi where Ha Ling Peak is located.