Monday, 28 September 2015

Meadows In The Sky

There are roads out there that call to me, singing that siren song of exploration, a whispering insistence from the woods clinging to their side. The very names of some of these byways, names like "Going To The Sun Road" or "Top of the World Highway", shout of adventure. There are roads which demand that you drive them in respect of history, roads like Route 66, or roads from popular culture, like Hollywood Boulevard or Fifth Avenue or Bay Street. There are roads with names that go to destinations only the familiar can find, roads like The Dempster Highway, The Alaska Highway, the Mackenzie Highway or the Trans-Labrador Highway.

I find roads that call to me. Some calls I can answer, others I cannot. Time and travel do not always make for good companions. There is never enough time to see it all, never enough time to explore at the whisper or song of a sign tantalizing you with what might be up that road. For many years there has been a road I have longed to explore. It's not a long road, nor a distant road. It's right outside of Revelstoke, part of Revelstoke National Park here in Canada. it is the "Meadows In The Sky Parkway". Just the name is enough to make me want to see what is up there.

The MITS Parkway is a snake that slithers its way 26 kilometres along and 1,000 metres upwards towards the peak of Mount Revelstoke, from an elevation of 470 metres at the base to 1,500 metres at the summit. It is a narrow, winding road, barely wide enough to two vehicles to pass, so narrow that RV's and trailers are not permitted. This spaghetti strand up the mountain side has 16 switchbacks, hairpin turns cut into the mountainside where the road must go upwards, as it can no longer go along the mountain's edge.

This road has called to me for many years. Every time I would drive through Revelstoke I would say to myself, "I have to go up there some time." I even tried it earlier this year but the roadway was closed due to the still heavy snow on the mountaintop. Finally, yesterday, we drove that road, from base to summit.

It was a fascinating drive, going as promised, from the dense rainforest at the base to the open alpine meadows at the peak, passing amazing viewpoints of the surrounding valleys and mountains at virtually every turn. The wildflowers, running riot with colour in the late summer, had gone, leaving only the frost turned leaves to splash yellow amongst the green of fir, pine and cedar. The crisp, cold air atop the mountain was exhilarating, a breath of chill just enough to remind me that I was outdoors.

At the top, Katherine explored, walking some of the shorter mountain trails, taking pictures, smelling the air. I, trapped as I am in a wheelchair, could do little of this, so I made the best of it I could, opening the windows of the truck, sitting there reveling in the cool air, gazing at the meadows and rocky crags surrounding me. I sat there remembering other summits, other mountains, other climbs, other days.

Then we drove back down the mountain, the roadway seeming so much fast going than coming. Another adventure ends. The road had called to me. I had driven it. That's what matters.

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