It looks as though winter has arrived early here in Alberta. It is coming earlier each year. It is getting to be a struggle watching seasons come and go. They are coming so quickly this past few years they are over running each other. I am no advocate of climate change even though there is some evidence nature is changing. There have been far too many government, corporations and individuals profiting by this new catch world. While they are out there advocating they are also contributing to the cause.
Setting aside the political chatter of the morning coffee banter lets get settled in and I would like to share a place with you that became a very important many years ago. So as always help yourself to the treats and some hot coffee, tea or maybe hot chocolate on a blustery day here in Alberta.
Tombstone Territorial Park
In my earlier years it held the meaning of two locations, Tombstone or Blackstone ranges. This particular photo is that of what is called the Tombstone Range. It always appeared to be windswept as the natural divide you see face towards the northwest. Winds so cold coming off the mountains you would think it was winter. If you look closely you will see a small lake on the bottom left. This was my place to camp. There is a small jetty of rock on the lower left side of the mountain that would afford an oasis of its own blocking most of the wind.
Some would ask why I would go to places such as these. My response was always the same... I mean why not. The hike in would take two days as a rule. Man, dog, backpack and of course rifle. It was here a man could find himself all alone settled into the peace and quiet it offered. There was nothing that could distract you from standing I total awe in the cool evening air watching the dance above in full 3D imaging like none ever found on a projector screen.
For me it was the go to place to watch the Aura Borealis or northern lights come alive. Some have never seen them and for me to stand and nearly be able to touch them it became a magical moment that became imprinted in your mind for a lifetime.
There are many scientific discussions as to what creates this unprecedented phenomena and they are all fascinating but for it is the sheer glory of the hand of God to create something so beautiful.
Map of The Area
You may have to copy paste the map to get to peek at it properly. As well the site offers all sorts of guiding points and campgrounds etc. The beauty of it was I was one of the few who ventured in prior to it becoming such a place of retreat. A few years after it became popular I would always have a garbage bag with me picking up the gum wrappers and other refuge left behind by others. What a shame to think people could desecrate natural at it finest. Now the roads leading in are basically high grade roads allowing people full access.
Bear Country Extreme
Bear has always been king in this region. There is great grazing grounds, plenty of fast water for their fishing pleasure and yes they do take down larger animals such as moose and caribou as the skeleton of many bleached white animals can be still be found and they are protected and not to be removed. As a general rule the law with bears is if you leave them alone they will return the favour. It is primarily the bear which you surprise is the one that will be unpredictable. Such a bear is one you want to slowly back away from. I is very undoubting to have one of these massive animals eyeing you as a food source. This not the land of the fainthearted.
Tannis my dog was one that knew no bounds when she spotted a bear and often she got me into trouble. Of all the backwoods trails I frequented this was one which I had to keep her leashed most of the time. Once we had our camp set up we would be just fine. The trick was getting there.
The small lake was feed by annual snowmelt and rain and contained some of the healthiest and tasty Arctic Grayling I do believe I ever tasted. The water could be drank right from the lake and it was very deep in places. The odd time I would have my friend Wes fly me in by helicopter and my canoe was attached to the bottom. I spent many a day just slowing paddling and looking down into the crystal clear natural aquarium. It was beauty in motion travelling at about the 15 foot level. The lake was alive and so bountiful.
The bear seemed to respect my camp spot considering there was no place to elevate your food cache. My pack and supplies always came with me on these foray's onto the lake or the land.
As I mentioned earlier today is far different with all the designated do this and do that regulations telling people where they can go and what they can do. Yes for the average person it is a trip of a lifetime especially if you love the outdoors. It has a registration system in place so authorities know who is where and where they are going.
Years ago I avoided places such as these for that very reason. It was one of the many reasons I called the Yukon Territory home. Being a territory it governed itself without Federal Government imposing its domain over people. The only rule I had at the time was I did have to notify the authorities I would be in the region. In the event I was not out and checked in on the prescribed date give or take a day or two, well I would be considered missing.
Creators and Scree
Looking at the picture again you will notice two areas where it appears there have been small rock slides creating two depressions filled with what is called scree. It is simply the smaller stones or slabs of rock that have broken loose. Scree will eat up any progress you have made in a matter of seconds should you slip. It becomes like quicksand under your feet and the best way to combat the stuff is get on your butt and ride it out using your feet and hands to slow the slide so too speak. Once stopped you get up and dust yourself off and start all over again.
For the lucky or the person who knows what they are looking for there are many gems to be found in small pockets. Some are rare and some are much harder to find. Lazuli Lazulite, Dark Green Emerald as well as jade and rhodonite. A few drops of water on any stone will reveal itself to the naked eye.
Will you ever get rich doing this, not a chance but there is that possibility you may find a pocket of gems which will net you some nice cash. Lazuli Lazulite was one that I found in this region. Four days of spending much of my time riding downward on my butt netted me close to 7 thousand in this enticing gemstone. It has been said to have many properties to encourage
the creativity found deep inside. Artist and writers find themselves attracted to it, especially if it is unpolished or cut. Best of all this place nice find but just the pleasure of knowing you were completely alone was the greatest blessing.
I would at the drop of a hat but the body tells a whole other story. I think we have all gone back to a place we have made attachments with. Sadly the image we have held of that sacred spot is dismantled completely when we see the modern. One of the many reasons I avoid going back, well at least in person is I love my old memories. Tombstone is one I will always retain as precious.
Standing there in the cool evening air watching and yes listening to the northern lights whispering with the sound of fine crystal rods touching each other and resonating a sound all their own. It is home in my heart where man soon becomes very humbled realizing you are so very small in the grander scheme of life. It is those same moments that transport you back in a heartbeat... I was truly blessed to have had this to myself so very often....
© Rolly A. Chabot 2018
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