Breakfast was okay but what really excited us most was the cool stuff we discovered.
Rogers Pass (elevation 1,330 m or 4,360 ft) is a high mountain pass that provides the Canadian Pacific Railway a route through the Selkirk Mountains. The pass was discovered on May 29, 1881, by Major Albert Bowman Rogers, a surveyor working for the railway. Rogers Pass is in the heart of Galcier National Park and is a National Historic Site
We are advised by park staff that the glacier has receded to the point where hiking to it is out of the question…although…we can drive to a lookout and see it. ('Computer Says…No')
We are also told that there are remote tenting sites available. It's early, so we can go to the campgrounds, pick a spot and then register. Sounds great. We check out both of the park's two campgrounds and although the surrounding area is heavily forested, the campsites (chock full of people and RV's) are not. We decide not to stay here
There are some very intriguing hiking trails in the park, some of which offer great views of the area. The most desirable are, due to the terrain, quite time consuming (none are shorter than 2.5 hours and the coolest one, which takes you up to the crest of the glacier, is a six hour hike). Luckily, one of the shortest hikes (called the Marion Lake trail) also sounds like it will be beautiful. We are eager to stretch our legs with a good hike so we head over to the trailhead
Arriving, we discover that the trails are also packed with people (What is this summer vacation or something?) We gear up anyway, bear spray, water, hiking boots, hats, and head out.
About a kilometre up the trail we stumble upon the remains of the world famous luxury resort 'Glacier House'. First built in 1886 (because the grade to Rogers Pass was too steep to allow heavy dining cars on the trains) Glacier House was a favourite for the Gilded Age's rich eastern elite, for Alpinists (you could practically walk out the door and climb) and for naturalists. Unfortunately, avalanches killed so many CPR workers (200 in all) that the railway was forced to build tunnels under the pass. The tunnels bypassed Glacier House and as a result, visitors to Glacier House dwindled to the point where CP soon closed its doors
There are historic plaques and information boards aplenty but the neatest things are the evidence of human habitation, particularly if you are an archaeologist (which neither of us are)
It's easy to see why the rich would vacation at this spot, it is beautiful (and in its heyday, the view of the glacier from the old hotel would have been breathtaking)
Further along, the trail splits…ours slants uphill at a fifty degree angle (my knees are telling me that it's more like ninety).
Through heavy bush and divinely scented trees we climb ever upward, the trail coils up this hill (or is it a mountain, my brain is getting fuzzy now…so it's hard for me to tell)
It''s really hot and the level of exertion (after two weeks in the car) has me sweating to the point where I'm half blind from the river of salt pouring into my eyes. “Hey is that Roger Rabbit?” Oh my gawd, I'm seeing cartoons! Wendy stops for a second to allow me to catch my breath (what's that…a rumour starting that someone is having a heart attack? Do I know the guy?). I look up the trail (partly hidden by clouds) and see nothing but incline. At that exact moment, a couple, descending, stops to tell us that it gets much worse from here and that it's downright hellish coming back down. Okay, that's as far as I go…I'm just going to lie down and Wendy can roll me down by kicking me.
We head back down
We're almost at the bottom when an older couple (much older than twenty nine) comes roaring down the hill and passes us…the old lady hip checks me out of her way and gives me a look of sheer disdain (she's making 'meow' sounds as she treks past me…WTF)
When we get to,the bottom of the hill I kiss the ground (actually, I fall on my face like a fresh cut sequoia) and I thank the great mystery for getting me back in one piece. Hike over…get me to some AC
Back in the car, we try to find something to do that won't finish me off. Hey, the next park West of us is Mount Revelstoke National Park and there is an old growth forest of giant red cedars. That sounds both fascinating and doable. Off we go again
If you do nothing else in this area, go and walk the boardwalk through the Giant Cedars. The mature trees are around eight hundred years old, very large and the obvious monarchs of this ancient forest. And their realm is one of peace and stillness. An environment, protected from man's plunder, is a cathedral to nature's perfect balance.
Fully refreshed, we drive towards the town of Revelstoke BC and once again, our minds become still as the panoramas continue to squeeze all thought (and language) from our brains
The Trans Canada Highway (1W) enters Revelstoke and, becoming Victoria Street, follows the train tracks (past the Train Museum) along the North end of town. As we drive in, we notice how charming the town actually is. We decide right then and there to stay the night.
We discover a gem of a Motel aptly named 'The Monashee Lodge' (The Monashee mountains and Mount Monashee are West of this town). The place seems nice…and since it's also the cheapest, we book in for the evening. We are given a very large room with two Queen beds and best of all…air conditioning. Each room has a balcony nook right outside the door, where, at the cozy table and chairs, one can sip tea and enjoy the view of the mountains
Main Street (Mackenzie Street) is closed and there appears to be a concert in session from the bandstand. Apparently the whole town is there (and they do this all summer…how civilized is that).
The band is called 'The Dead Stringers', a trio that plays a variety of awesome music…and only if it is written by a dead composer (http://thedeadstringers.bandcamp.com/).
We choose to eat at an Italian restaurant ('Isabella's Ristorante') and thoroughly enjoy both our food and the outstanding music…particularly the fiddle player, who plays flawlessly (it sounds like honey is flowing out of his strings)
We have no idea what we are doing tomorrow but we enjoyed every moment of this day and that…is a blessing. I crank up the air conditioning…and…with dead composers still sweetly singing across our inner ear, we close our eyes and float off into a gentle sleep.
Moose and Wendle
P.S. For you kids out there