And now …
The Exciting Conclusion of the Supersonic Iceworld Saga !
I wish I could report that I’ve been blogging from a dark subterranean ice cave this whole time (like the one seen here from Final Fantasy, a video game I worked on in the world before computers way back in 1996, but we both know that wifi is terrible under a glacier.
Before we begin the end, let’s review the theme of this series of blog posts: How Not to Hike.
If you are in/on Nature, and you are alone with no supplies at all except for a camera bag, a camera, and the clothing that you will see below – stay on the path. You are a tourist.
If you wish to venture off that path, be prepared, don’t travel alone, and have supplies appropriate to the journey.
With all that said, here’s how I survived falling away into a cold black sleep: blind panic. I twisted my torso at a speed I didn’t realize I could and flopped onto what solid ground there was. My only thought was, “wow thank goodness I put my camera away, but boy this would have been funny to catch on video.” I dragged myself up and out, and though I was probably being overly careful (it sure seemed like there was solid ground there somewhere), I lost my penetrative desire and moved on.
I’d finally reached the point I was shooting for. The spot where I’d climb over the ridge to the next glacier. Here’s what I was thinking…
I was knackered. And the climb was almost sheer and mostly smaller, slippery rock. It was almost hour 3 and I hadn’t even really started. I wasn’t actually worried about the boy, the weather was perfect, but I’ll blame him and say I had to go back to check on him. Then I’d just go around the “pond” and walk up from the front. If I was still up for it.
Here’s me having my first break.
This is what I was wearing. Camera bag. Shoes. Socks. T-shirt. Shorts.
Whatever my fate, I hereby claim this rest spot, and name it Fink’s Couch™.
So I’ll admit, I was pretty spent at this point. Luckily I had pancakes that morning, and I drank glacial water (how I knew it was deathly cold beyond common sense). I was ready to call it a hike and walk back around the pond to Hobox and Solomon and maybe see if there in fact was a parking area closer to my glacier of choice.
Here’s one of the curious sights on what I thought was the end of my journey. In the background you can see a little tree that appears to be growing normally, smaller branches near the top and longer at the bottom, but this poor guy wasn’t getting any taller and continuing to throw branches outward. Looked bizarre.
I kept strolling along, looking down. Here were some cool overlapping tracks.
And then something funny happened.
I actually said to myself, “Huh, this all you got?” to the glacier, referring to the small glacial lake created from the melting ice. Why I have thoughts like that is beyond me. It’s almost as if my mind teases me with shallow thinking like a precognitive warning to think more carefully. I wasn’t just taunting the Ice Queen again, I was being dangerously naive (you know, more so then crawling inside an ice crevasse).
The lake wasn’t all she had.
This “pond” was an afterthought, a subtle pause where ice water went to collect its thoughts before raging on to feed an endless glacial river.
There was no way back across. Not for miles. It was either turn back through that endless march over miles of shifting rocks, or this thing above.
My photos from here on suffered because I got a tiny bit worried. Well, not until after this next foolish idea, which I didn’t document. This is the only image of it I have. In the foreground above, you’ll note a white rectangle. If you concentrate, you can see two thinner rectangles on either side. A steel cable stretches between these. This was clearly for crossing over the river. But with a cable car, or mechanical device – not with your hands. I don’t know if it was laziness, brain cloud, or excitement, but I decided this was how I was going to cross back to Solomon’s side of the river. I got as far as removing my socks and putting them on my hands and hanging over the river, the pain in my palms immediate, before I thought, “What the hell am I doing? If I fall, my body will go numb as its dragged downriver and I will likely die weirdly while trying to command my limbs to swim to either bank and failing.”
Hanging there, all these beautiful images flashed thought my head …
That wasn’t true, I just wanted to show some pictures from the trip I forgot to before.
What happened was I turned around, moaned, and made my way back to Solomon an hour and a half later.
I’d been gone for over four hours!
And so, crawling to the Columbian Icefield Visitor Center across the street (where I took many of these big picture photos), I got myself my favorite dessert.
Then I saw a map of what exactly Columbian Icefield meant and at long last that day, after plenty of exhilaration and joy, I got a chill … and I smiled.
I generated this from Google Earth and added my four hour round trip.
Never the End !
I join Solomon in being thankful the Ice Queen granted you safe passage!