The Canadian Rockies

An ordinary walk into the spetacular
An ordinary walk into the spetacular

We as writers are dependent upon imagination. Imagination is the ink that fills the pen that feeds the lines that write the page. I have returned from a place where there is no need of ink. It does not invite description. Instead, it offers itself to be held; to be pressed like picked flowers that find a home between pages of a favorite book. Pressed into the unforgotten. Forever remembered. Imagination became exhausted when it was formed and neither word nor paint, nor photograph, can convey its extraordinary splendor.

The Banff to Jasper corridor through the Canadian Rockies is neither route nor visit; it is an awakening that refuses the eye any momentary pause, any sudden blink, or any excuse to escape the moment which clings unrelentingly to the awakened soul. What the soul reveals is unspeakable in words. It inhales through the eyes and then exhales in slow repining gasp from deep inside, then rises invisibly to settle, to decorate what words simply can not do.

There are times when words can only diminish a truth which is reserved for experience, for the communion of soul and place. Times when what is felt is confined, kept imprisoned, ‘lest we as writers, reveal the ineptitude of language to define or describe visions which refuse the audacity of words. There is a time to stand in awe, to revere the unspeakable and to never endanger such privilege with the futility of description.

The gold of larch across a lake at 8000 ft
The gold of larch across a lake at 8000 ft

I have prefaced my following ineptitude with fair and honest warning, with a prescription for futility directing my way, with promise to fail. None the less, I will paint despite a lack of paint and I will write, though words will serve at best, as evidence that what I come to do, can not be done.

Imagine if you can, conspicuous and meandering valleys, which cradle sublime and delicate meadows, golden aspen and seas of hypnotic evergreens, scaling the unimaginable. Imagine rivers and streams so clear the eye can define the grains of sand which lie within the crevices of bottomed bedrock. Imagine wild grasses dancing rhythmically to soft sweeping breezes and floating fragrances that settle undisturbed as they light upon the silence. Above it all, imagine if you can, but you can not, granite monoliths rising almost vertical from grass to sky with jagged crowns piercing the captured sky. East and west, north and south as far as your heart can see. They stand as though they were pulled from the ground, stretched upward with out hesitation or any pause to consider slope or grade or cant or bend. They simply reached and laid claimed to the “high above“. They are painted in alluring greens, splashed infrequently with the elegant gold of shivering aspen. Below the stone gray granite faces of their omnipotent crowns, a mile high, the yellow needles of Autumn larch, separate themselves from the lower mountain. To behold such splendor in a single moment, begs immediate reverence from the soul. To stand in the midst of such incomparable beauty humbles the spirit and brings the glory of stillness to ones human spirit.

Between Banff and Lake Louise - where awe competes with awe
Between Banff and Lake Louise - where awe competes with awe
From the front of our condo in Canmore
From the front of our condo in Canmore

The granite faces are more than half the height of the mountain; Above timberline, above the common and ordinary places which men violate in their want of uncommon adventure. There are no summits to crest, no trails to execute, and no mountains to climb, but, for rope and axe. They stand in solitary splendor embracing wild, unfurled, valleys and canyons to their great stone breast. Held, protected, sheltered, from the usual trespass of an outside world. Imagine that your eye can not find the beginning or the end of their presence, for they hold the horizon in any direction. Sunrise plays upon the miles of lofty granite faces as though they were simply empty canvas, inventing hues of color for the approachment of a day humble by yet, another visit.

Emeral lake between Lake Louise and Jasper
Emeral lake between Lake Louise and Jasper

Imagine if you can, but you can not, to steal the green from emerald and pour the purity of color from your hand into lakes reserved for its reflection. To squeeze from turquoise its life until the color drips in complete surrender to the claim of whatever water sits below.

Johnson Creek in Johnson canyon near Banff
Johnson Creek in Johnson canyon near Banff

There are many who say such place conveys to them the illumination of their comparative insignificance and standing in the presence of such unending awe, leaves one to understand the why. As I sat imprisoned by surrender, surveying a landscape which my senses could not completely grasp, I thought how fortunate for such a place that I and others come. To see, to feel, to hear, to smell, to taste, to think, to experience. After all, it is our senses which create the awe, the splendor, the exhilaration. What is, such an extraordinary place without our presence. It would not find the awe within itself. But then, who are we, without such place to give purpose and awakening to our senses?

My insignificance as measured by Lake Louise
My insignificance as measured by Lake Louise

If man’s encroachment misrepresents the wild or the wilderness that resounds from wall to distant granite wall, he need simply leave the illusion of safety and put his foot to ground. It is undeniably home to grizzly and black bear, to big horn sheep and cougar, to elk and dear and moose, to wolves and wolverine. They belong to such a place, as much as the wild flowers that carpet the high alpine meadows in August, as much as countless glaciers which resound daily in avalanches high above trails which keep their distance, as much as the waterfalls which plunge from the severity of a vertical world unable to tame their want to leap in exhilaration and as much as the high stillness that keep secrets in yet, unapproachable places.

To say that grandeur sweeps the landscape with unspeakable proficiency is to diminish the perfection that such a place embodies. To say the eyes fail to measure the scope of its magnificence is as much from truth as heart may beg and still, it is a truth that words will fail. If imagination is the ink of writers, then I have seen a place surely written in ink from God. I have kept my promise and failed to capture its incomparable wonder in any of my words, but then, who am I to improve upon what God has written.

Sunshine meadows above banff. !2 miles of hiking trails through a meadowed paradise at 8000ft.
Sunshine meadows above banff. !2 miles of hiking trails through a meadowed paradise at 8000ft.
It speaks for itself
It speaks for itself

It is good to be home. To sink into the comfort of all that is familiar. To read, to write, to listen to my music and to bounce grandchildren on knees that rise up as imaginary horses. It is good that we imagine. But sometimes, it is good to escape such ordinary excercise. Sometimes we must see what the imagining is all about. When we return we may find new paint upon our palet, new words with which to write and new music with which to dance. Despite the prospect of such collection, some places will always take our breath away; Only there, where there is no need of it, no want of it, can imagination ever find a place to rest.

My wife and I basking in the shadow of Lake Louise
My wife and I basking in the shadow of Lake Louise

Comments 42 comments

whonunuwho profile image

whonunuwho 4 years ago from United States

I think you have painted very well in your pictures and wrting the captivating beauty of the Canadian Rockies. Thank you for sharing this wonderful work,arb.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

I'm rushing around with urgent errands this morning so I won't do this the disservice of telling you how amazing it is till I can attempt to do it justice. I just had to check to see if you'd posted and was delighted to see what it is! I'll be able to ruminate on my indelible impressions of your wondrous pictures of what must be the most beautiful place on the planet while I'm tending to a few pressing errands!

You and Randy look good there, too, btw, in spite of your humility. Let me be the judge - I'm the artist! :-) Hugs - I'll be back shortly, my dear friend. So glad you're back safe and sound.


Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

Pavlo Badovskyy 4 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

You describe a beautiful place in beautiful words. Just amazing that such places do exist.!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

I sit with tears streaming for the sheer beauty which you do manage to convey in picture and words, despite what you know from the experience itself as indescribable and beyond capturing or conveying. This is better than any National Geographic description of majestic places, both in its conveyance of what you witnessed and the heart and soul of the witness which touches and permeates its every word and image.

I knew I couldn't convey how beautifully it expressed it and touched me, and I cannot. I got a break in my rush of stuff today (taking care of some ranch-connected things primarily) and so was able to lose myself in this wonderful vicarious experience.

In your own words: "There is a time to stand in awe, to revere the unspeakable and to never endanger such privilege with the futility of description." - that is just how I feel about commenting on your description, Alan. But writers have to try. So I can only try to imagine how much more glorious the real thing was, even as I feel content with what does reach me through the page. But as you also said, without your perception, the scenery itself would be blind and mute. Even sharing it vicariously, once removed - gives a sense of its awe, while the actual inhabitants - bears and other wildlife - are no more or less impressed with it than they would be in some bland prairie home, as long as food, shelter and mates are provided by it. Only a human being with deep, keen perception can begin to grasp that majesty. And no matter how humbly you feel you did so, it is quite magnificent.

I'm thinking - yes those precipices - or some of them - DID rise up from the ground to their heights, powered by deep underground eruptions. Perhaps others were whittled away by ancient rivers or seas, - or carved and buffed off by glaciers. The whole process of the creation of the planet and its most spectacular beauties so far surpasses anyone's comprehension, but still it can and does touch 'home' at the level in which a poet and lover of it can behold it and convey it, as you did.

My nearest such vision was the Grand Canyon, but it's a whole different spectacular; - canyons go down into the Earth. Mountains and peaks rise up out of it. There is something most wondrous and even symbolic about that. Seeing the connections in all that God has given us to whom he gave the ability to perceive, however subjectively and inadequately, never ceases to thrill, amaze and humble me. My day - my moment - my life is enriched by this I get to share right now.

Thank you for going and bringing back all of this. I'm simply enthralled, for lack of a better word. I expected it to be glorious, but what it is is much deeper than merely that; - indeed, for me, too, - just beyond telling. . .


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

Absolutely beautiful scenery, arb, which you described with reverence and brilliance. And your photos emphasize the alsmost indescribable beauty of nature in this Canadian Rockies region. Bravo and up!


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hi there whonunuwho! Thanks for coming by and reading my first travel review, I suspect my last, but who knows. Your kind comment warms my day and leaves me hopeful that some will see what I saw.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

I will leave a comment on your gracious 2nd reply.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hello Pavlo, It is amazing indeed! Thanks so much for reading and taking time to comment. It is appreciated.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hello butterfly! Your praise is treasured as always and as always it humbles me. I am thrilled that you caught so much of what I saw and felt, that you enjoyed the pictures and that you felt I paid worthy homage in my expression of so much wonder.

I have been to the Sawtooth, the Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier, the Grand Canyon, all the Hawaian Islands and a host of others. Only Yosemite rivals my journey through the Canadian Rockies.

You are right! Only a human being. What an extraordinary privilege is extended to those who wake to their own significance. I know a butterfly who wakes in such a way before every moment breathed, before every glorious day. I've read it in her work. She is much like the place I've come from; Undefinable!


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hello drbj my friend! I hope you are well. Whatever reverence I employed was mine. I'm afraid the brillance was stolen from the place I write about. I am delighted that the photos convey some semblance of my intent. As always, thank you for your read and the gracious comment.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

Now I'm all teary again. Thank you.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

My father grew up in Canada. Although I spent many summers in Ontario on Lake Simcoe, I never visited the province of Alberta. To say that the Canadian Rockies are simply breathtaking seems an injustice. When I saw the indescribable beauty in your photographs and read your perfect expression of description and inspiration, it was like coming home for some reason. Something awakened, and stirred every imaginable fiber into being. I plan to rope hubby into a trip there…and soon.

You have gifted us with a magnificent experience. Your deep humanity knows how the wind and the rock, the taste of the air, the timber’s scent, and the liquid green feed both the pen and the soul. Thank you, Arb.:-)


xstatic profile image

xstatic 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

Beautful photos and writing as well. I echo Genna's praise. She said it well. Sounds like an incredible trip.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Alan - What an incredible first photograph. As it loaded, it became taller and taller and taller -- quite wonderful. All the pictures are wonderful. No time to read the text. Just finished writing a lecture for tomorrow and have to get some sleep before heading off to class. I will return to read all about your trip soon. ~~ Theresa


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Good Morning Genna! Thank you for such a gracious comment. I've already planned a return trip for next late August as I want to see the endless miles of wild flowers blooming against the backdrop of the high rockies. The pictures, although they stir my memory, are like using candle light to describe the sun. The area has been on my bucket list for 30 years and now, I can not understand what kept me so long. I do understand your feeling of home. I was born in Paris (my mother is french) and I feel a sleeping connection which I suppose will only wake upon a visit. I've aunts, uncles and cousins there and want to explore my feeling of connection with the land in which I was born. My wife's aversion to flying has postponed such a trip for to long. We are exploring other means of travel. I may perhaps send her UPS and hook up after she arrives!

Thanks, as always, for reading and commenting. I've noticed that I have returned to the concluding chapters of your wonderful work. I will get to it soon. I am still in recovery mode.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hi Jim! It is country worthy of a return. I am not, nor have I ever been, a winter person so I will have to wait until next summer and their summers are especially short. I am unprepared for the one which is preparing to fall upon these pleasant days. Thanks for reading and be well.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hi Theresa! I understand busy. I've not yet responded to your beautiful comment on "God, Husbands and Gift wrapping". It deserved more than a passing response. I am catching up although I've at least 20 hubs to read and respond to yet. I've 2 SSA deadlines to meet this week and I am frantically trying to prepare for them. Talk later!


ImKarn23 profile image

ImKarn23 4 years ago

Good lord man - your pictures are spectacular!

I'm canadian and have visited some of the places you speak of - but not for many many years!

Your hub makes me so proud to be a canadian and how Mankind can continue mindlessly to destroy such beauty is simply beyond my ken!

Sharing forward and voting up, of course!


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

"There is a time to stand in awe, to revere the unspeakable and to never endanger such privilege with the futility of description." Yes and with that in mind, what else can I say? The magnificence of the Rockies is beyond words.

Well, You certainly did a marvelous job describing the awe-experience related to those gorgeous mountains, lakes and forests!

I was there last year and I will certainly have to go back because the experience was priceless. I came back to Toronto with hundreds of photographs and the determination to go back as soon as possible. Perhaps next year ...

Thank You for sharing these wonderful photographs and for writing about the Rockies.

All the best!


JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

Alan, your prose reads like poetry, and entices my own feeble imagination to consider a place so beautiful it defies description by anyone without the soul of a poet!

Your photographs are splendid and give the viewer an idea of the glorious views you and your family enjoyed. The picture captioned "It speaks for itself" took my breath away...the layers of color...texture of the trees in the foreground...a beautiful scene. Since I can't see these views in person, your sharing with words and pictures is the next best thing. You do justice to the majesty of the Canadian Rockies' splendor.

Thank you.

Voted Up++++ and shared

Jaye


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I have only one word for your hub. Spectacular!


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hi ImKarn23! We drove by car through Idaho and up through Radium. Spectacular beauty and wonderful friendly people. By comparison Canada is quite expensive, however, it did not diminish what we went to see. We were actually quite pleased with Canada's vigilance overseeing the areas we visited. Man's impact upon his environment is overall, short sighted, but, the Canadians seem to do an admirable job. I am but 13 1/2 hours from there and shall make a point of visiting more often. I will say that 90% of the visitors were Canadian. I am happy that they avail themselves of such wonder. Thanks for reading and get back to these places!


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Thank you Mr. Happy! Perhaps we will be there at the same time. Keep in touch if you do return next year. We are looking at late August while meadow flowers are still in bloom.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hello Jaye! I am happy that you saw some of what I wanted to share. It is a long way from Mississippi! BTW, my father in law is from Meridian. State amateur golf champion and LSU hall of fame.

As always Jaye, thank you for reading and your always kind remarks.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hi Susan! I always think of our dogs when I hear from you. While we were there a Jack Russell was killed by a grizzly on a trail we were hiking. There are warnings everywhere about not hiking with dogs. They obviously bark and bark at the bear who will eventually end such encounters the only way they know. The owner let go of the leash and ran the other way. Understandable and so sad. Thanks again Susan for reading!


Gerg profile image

Gerg 4 years ago from California

Absolutely stunning imagery, both in photos and words; thanks for the cyber trip to such a spectacular place, Alan.

G


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Thanks Greg! Love the new profile pic!


b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 4 years ago

The Canadian Rockies...Wow, what a Treat to see and Enjoyed through your Wonderful Hub Arb. Looks like you Guys had a Great time, Exploring and Climbing and taking lots of Fabulous Pictures for us to Enjoy. You both look like the Trip agreed with you, so Fresh and outdoorsy looking.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Thanks b. Glad you enjoyed the pics.


klanguedoc profile image

klanguedoc 4 years ago from Canada

You do it justice arb. I spent two weeks there a few years ago and it is humbling to say the least. I have traveled greatly from Newfoundland to BC, and I have seen a lot of beautiful places but Alberta's Banff to Jasper corridor will forever hold an endearing place in my heart and memories.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hello again Klanguedoc! Would love a Newfoundland/Nova Scotia trip. Perhaps next year. Thank you for the kind comment and for the read, my friend.


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 4 years ago from Los Angeles

Arb, I have always felt humbled by the beauty of the Canadian Rockies, much in the way that viewing El Capitan in Yosemite makes me feel that I am standing at the throne of Almighty God.

If I had no sight, I would be able to create breathtaking scenery from your expressive words alone. Thank you for sharing your passion for nature's awesome beauty and for your photographs that capture the moment and your happiness in it. What a treat to my senses!

Cat :)


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hi cat! Yosemite remains my favorite and makes me feel much the same.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Well, I have read it twice now and what a wonderful piece, and what a wonderful journey. I love all the photographs of course, but that first one still takes my breath away every time I see it. Such natural majesty. Our engineered buildings, no matter how tall or impressive do not compare.

On my way to discuss Thomas Aquinas and European Scholasticism. Wish I understood it better than I do. Wish the students would remember it better than they will. :) Hope your week is going well. ~~Theresa


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Thanks Theresa and I'm envious, Thomas is one of my favorites.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

Sometimes, hubs and their photos take our breath away, like this beautiful, amazing hub.. I find my own " ineptitude of language to define or describe visions".... we were able to visit Alaska and I can feel some of the beauty we saw there in these lovely pictures. My husband would love to go to the Canadian Rockies and you have certainly proved his point! Your superb writing is a perfect compliment to these fabulous photos.

Voted up, useful, awesome, beautiful, interesting and shared!


georgescifo profile image

georgescifo 4 years ago from India

really superb..the snow covered peak mountains of Canada..the writing really inspires to take a visit to this beautiful place...


Marsei profile image

Marsei 4 years ago from New Orleans

I fell in love with this area on our visit there. Nothing more beautiful.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hi Mary! hope things are well. Thank you so much for the kinds comments. I hope that you do take the opportunity to visit. My hub simply hints of what you will see!


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Tkank you geogescifo! Your comment is greatly appreciated. It was trip on my bucket list but I will not scratch it off. I will go again.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hello Marsei! Thanks for reading and commenting. I look forward to a return trip. I've only been to one place which overshadows the Canadian rockies and that is Yosemite. I've been there at least 25 times and yet, I've never comitted it to paper. Next time I will make the effort.


Melinda 23 months ago

Thanks for sharing - you rdnemied me of our road trip from Southern California to Olympia, via the Oregon coast and the rain forest. We had such a great trip and can't wait to repeat it.

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