Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lured On and On By Nothing But Beauty

It's 6 p.m. and we call it a day.

We pull over at Summit Lake, the highest point along the Alaska Highway, to set up camp for the night. We walk, eat and gawk at the beauty surrounding us.

We're in a bowl of beauty.

But it's far from nighttime. The sun's still high and the road beckons. So we decide to continue on. For just a while. Because it's so beautiful up here in British Columbia, along this historic highway.

On the road before and after the lake, we flit past stone sheep, moose, caribou. Mountains rise and fall on both sides. Frozen creeks -- some five feet thick with snow and ice -- thaw under 20 hours of sunshine. Their water at first a trickle, then a stream, then a current. For miles we follow rushing waters snaking through glacier-flattened countrysides. Twice we see beaver ponds, their dams holding well, their lodges mounded high.
And then, what is that blue?

The color of Muncho Lake, an Alaskan Highway respite for boaters and campers, approaches both blue and green, but arrives at neither. It's opaque, thick. And it's big. We skirt its edge for miles.

The road meets the water on one side and the mountains on the other. And it's desolate. We meander past an occasional trucker, camper or pick-up truck, one with a dog in the back. But generally, it's just us and all this beauty. And that amazingly blue lake.

What is that blue? Cerulean? No. Ultramarine? No. I got it. Turquoise.

Muncho Lake is a bowl of turquoise.

Hours later, the intense beauty continues to lure us along. We can't stop. We drive and drive because over each crest, around each curve, down each valley, breathtaking beauty abounds. And, it's daylight. Forever it seems.

Finally, we come to rest in a long-ago glacier's alluvial fan. And we're in another beautiful bowl. It's snowcapped, and the steep sides rise into the Canadian Rockies.

And no one else is here. We walk, and gawk, then climb back into Otto, where we draw our shades, against the daylight.

At 10:30 p.m, I peak out and see the field of rounded stone, some the size of basketballs, with long shadows. Aha! A setting sun.

Finally, about 11 p.m., darkness. And we settle in for the night in our beautiful bowl. Finally.

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