Up the Icefields


Castle Mountain, Bow River Parkway

Castle Mountain, Bow River Parkway



I’m just back from the trip to Jasper and points beyond, and struggling with a mass of photographs and experiences. We drove up the Icefields Parkway, which has to be one of the most scenic roads in the world. Every few kilometers there was a point where everyone wanted to stop, to marvel and take pictures.


We saw a bright river thick with floes,






turquoise Lake Peyto, in the shape of a wolf’s head,






and hiked up the terminal morraine of the Athabasca glacier, one toe of the Columbia Icefields which drain into three oceans thousands of miles apart.






Perhaps that was the most obviously alien of experiences – the stark, primal landscape of stones and ice and snow, the power of the light on everything, though the path was well trodden and signs everywhere stated do not cross this line, there be crevasses.



And this was only some of the first day. Now I’m sitting in my studio watching the snow melt, and small birds like grey tits threading the pines. It will take me months to get my head around things. Until then, I’ll sit with my thoughts, looking. And working on the first, blunt draft of The Library of Endings. Piecemeal, insufficient, without anchors. I’ll listen to the forest clacking together like carpenters at work somewhere out of sight. The crick of magpie and buzz of the central heating, keeping me from the sharpness of the air.



What do we do with all this living? How much can we make of it that could even be half as wild or rich? This is my constant question here. A half slab of it taking up my head. Maybe one day I’ll be good enough of a writer to know at least tentatively. Until then. Until then, speak to everyone. Sit with my good fortune and unmapped future, following each of these lines of thought until they come to something, or snap off –


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