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Title: Among the Canadian Alps
Author: Burpee, Lawrence J. (Lawrence Johnstone), 1873-1946
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)



[Illustration]

BERG LAKE AND TUMBLING GLACIER

_R. C. W. Lett_



    AMONG THE
    CANADIAN ALPS

    BY

    LAWRENCE J. BURPEE

    F.R.G.S.

    WITH FOUR ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOUR
    FORTY-FIVE REPRODUCTIONS FROM
    PHOTOGRAPHS AND FIVE MAPS

    NEW YORK: JOHN LANE COMPANY
    LONDON: JOHN LANE, THE BODLEY HEAD
    TORONTO: BELL & COCKBURN :: MCMXIV



    COPYRIGHT, 1914
    BY JOHN LANE COMPANY

    THE·PLIMPTON·PRESS
    NORWOOD·MASS·U·S·A



PREFACE


    _The writer takes this opportunity of gratefully acknowledging his
    indebtedness to Mr. J. B. Harkin, Commissioner of Dominion Parks,
    Col. Maynard Rogers, Superintendent of Jasper Park, and Mr. Arthur
    O. Wheeler, Director of the Alpine Club of Canada, for valued
    assistance in gathering material for this book; to Mr. Walter D.
    Wilcox, Sir James Outram, Dr. A. P. Coleman, Dr. J. W. A. Hickson,
    Rev. George Kinney, Dr. Charles E. Fay and Mr. P. D. McTavish, for
    permission to quote from their books and articles on the Rocky
    Mountains; and to Miss Mary M. Vaux, Mrs. Mary T. S. Schäffer, Mr.
    W. H. P. Lett, Mr. Arthur O. Wheeler, Mr. H. W. Craver, Rev.
    George Kinney, Mr. P. D. McTavish, Mr. James F. Porter, Mr. P. L.
    Tait, Mr. John Woodruff, Mr. A. Knechtel, Messrs. G. and W. Fear,
    the Canadian Pacific Railway Company and the Grand Trunk Pacific
    Railway Company, for permission to reproduce photographs of Rocky
    Mountain scenery and climbing and other incidents._

    OTTAWA, CANADA
    October, 1914



CONTENTS


                                    I                         PAGE

    _The Lure of the Mountains_                                 11

                                    II

    _The National Parks of Canada_                              29

                                    III

    _In and About Banff_                                        49

                                    IV

    _The Canadian Matterhorn_                                   65

                                    V

    _Incomparable Lake Louise_                                  81

                                    VI

    _The Valley of the Yoho_                                    93

                                    VII

    _Around the Illecillewaet_                                 107

                                    VIII

    _The Caves of Nakimu_                                      125

                                    IX

    _Mountain Climbing and Climbers_                           135

                                    X

    _Climbing in the Selkirks_                                 153

                                    XI

    _Afield in Jasper_                                         167

                                    XII

    _Out of the World_                                         179

                                    XIII

    _The Monarch of the Rockies_                               197

                                    XIV

    _On the Moose River Trail_                                 211

    _Bibliography_                                             227



ILLUSTRATIONS

                                                          Facing page

    _Berg Lake and Tumbling Glacier_ (in colours)        Frontispiece

    _Mount Temple_                                                 14

    _Vermilion Lake and Mount Rundle_                              20

    _The Three Sisters, Rocky Mountains Park_                      24

    _Mount Wapta and Summit Lake, Yoho Park_                       24

    _Mount Lefroy and Lake Louise, after a Midsummer
    Snowstorm_                                                     32

    _Cathedral Peak, from Kicking Horse Pass_                      38

    _Moose Pass, on the Borders of Robson Park_                    38

    _The Wall of Jericho_                                          44

    _Hoodoos in the Valley of the Bow_                             44

    _The Valley of the Bow_                                        54

    _Trail near Banff_                                             60

    _Mount Assiniboine, the Matterhorn of the Rockies_             68

    _Emperor Falls_ (in colours)                                   72

    _Mount Edith_                                                  76

    _Towers of Mount Babel, Consolation Valley_                    76

    _Paradise Valley, from the Saddleback_                         84

    _Giant Steps, Head of Paradise Valley_                         84

    _Lake Louise_                                                  86

    _Moraine Lake_                                                 90

    _Takakkaw Falls, Yoho Valley_                                  96

    _Lake O'Hara, Yoho Park_                                      100

    _Twin Falls, Yoho Valley_                                     104

    _Mount Sir Donald and Illecillewaet Glacier_                  112

    _A Bit of the Illecillewaet_                                  112

    _The High Frontier of British Columbia_                       120

    _On the Summit of Sir Donald_                                 120

    _The Weird Caves of Nakimu_                                   128

    _The Assault_                                                 138

    _Victory at Last_                                             138

    _The Monarch of the Rockies_ (in colours)                     144

    _Snow Mushrooms_                                              150

    _Icicles on Mount Robson, 50 feet long_                       150

    _Climbing Mount Resplendant_                                  158

    _Summit of Mount Resplendant, 11,173 feet above the Sea_      158

    _Climbing Among the Seracs_                                   164

    _Jasper Lake_                                                 170

    _Fiddle Creek Canyon_                                         176

    _Jack Lake_                                                   184

    _Maligne Lake_                                                184

    _Breaking Camp in the Mountains_                              190

    _Making a Trail through Fallen Timber_                        190

    _The Purple Crags of Roche Miette_ (in colours)               200

    _Mount Robson, from the Grand Fork_                           204

    _Emperor Falls_                                               208

    _Mount Robson, from the Northeast_                            214

    _Moose River Falls_                                           218

    _Swimming the Athabaska_                                      224

    _Making Camp_                                                 224


MAPS


    _Rocky Mountains Park, Banff Section_                         235

    _Rocky Mountains Park, Lake Louise Section_                   236

    _Yoho Park_                                                   237

    _Jasper Park_                                                 238

    _Glacier Park_                                                239

    _Robson Park_                                                 239



I

THE LURE OF THE MOUNTAINS


What is the peculiar charm of that mighty, snow-capped sea of
mountains, whose stupendous waves tossed far into the heavens seem
ever about to overwhelm the level wheat-fields of Western Canada? The
lure of the mountains defies analysis, but it is surely there with its
irresistible appeal to all in whom the spirit of romance is not quite
dead. It stirs the blood strangely when, far out on the plains of
Alberta, you get your first glimpse of the Canadian Alps--a line of
white, glittering peaks just above the horizon, infinitely remote and
ethereal, something altogether apart from the prosaic world about you
of grain and cattle, neat farm-house and unsightly elevator.

As you follow the course of the sun, the peaks loom gradually up into
the sky and dominate the scene, but still retain the atmosphere of
another world. The rolling foothills in the foreground, like spent
waves from the storm-tossed sea, seem tangible and comprehensible,
but beyond and above the dark ramparts of the outer range, the
towering outer wave of the mountains, float silvery outlines that seem
to be the fabric of some other and purer world. Doubt may come with
the marvellously clear and hardening light of the western day, but at
sunrise, and peculiarly at sunset, the last shreds of uncertainty are
swept away. Not of this earth is that dream of fairyland poised
mysteriously in the upper air, glowing in exquisite tints, soft as a
summer cloud; a realm of the spirit to which one might hope to journey
over the path of a rainbow.

One who has seen this vision may not resist the insistent call to
explore the mountain world, to discover what lies beyond the frowning
battlements that guard this other realm. The call has been working in
the hearts of men for generations. They came alone in the early days,
each man fighting his way up through some doorway that led into the
heart of the Glittering Mountains. Only the stout of heart might then
win through, for this Wonderland was guarded close on every side.
Pitfalls awaited the unwary. The explorer must cut his own trail
through the wilderness, cross icy torrents, climb alpine passes, find
a way through networks of fallen timber, face perils and
discomforts every hour of the day. And yet there was something
alluring, something that drew him on, and brought him back again to
these high fastnesses; something that he could not understand, but
that was none the less imperative. That same spell is as potent to-day,
but most of the barriers are down, and where once men came singly or
in twos and threes, paying heavily in labour and peril for the joys
they found in the mountains, thousands now follow at just enough cost
to themselves to give spice to the experience.

The history of the Canadian Alps, so far as White Men have had
anything to do with it, dates back to the closing years of the French
Régime in Canada. It is characteristic of the race that gave to the
world such heroic figures as those of Champlain and La Salle and La
Vérendrye, that while the infamous Bigot and the egotistical and
brainless Vaudreuil were gambling away an empire in the New World,
tireless and unselfish explorers were carrying the boundaries of that
empire far out toward the setting sun.

It was in the year 1751 that the Chevalier de Niverville, with a small
party of French _voyageurs_, pushed his way up the muddy waters of
the Saskatchewan, and built Fort Lajonquière in the foothills of the
Rocky Mountains. Niverville was not the discoverer of the mighty range
that runs like a backbone throughout the length of North America. He
had been anticipated some years before by a fellow-countryman, La
Vérendrye, son of the patriotic explorer who had devoted his life to
western discovery for the glory of his native land. Niverville,
however, was the first White Man to look upon that portion of the
mountains now known as the Canadian Rockies.

One wonders what his impressions were as he gazed out to the westward
over that bewildering scene. As a Canadian officer he had served in
the expeditions against the New England Colonies, and was therefore
familiar with the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as
with his own Laurentian Hills, but what preparation were these for
such awe-inspiring majesty? Range piled upon range to the westward,
soaring up and up in vast towers and domes and spires, and extending
north and south to the utmost limits of vision, they must have seemed
to Niverville an impregnable fortification designed to bar all further
progress in this direction.

Niverville was not the man, however, to be daunted by even the most
formidable natural obstacle, and he was not without evidence that a
way might be found through the mountains to the shores of that Western
Sea for which he and many other Canadian explorers had been searching,
even since the days of Champlain. While at Fort Lajonquière a party of
Indians visited him, from whom he learned that they had traded with a
strange tribe whose home was far to the westward, beyond the great
barrier, and who spoke of White Men that they had seen on the sea
coast. Niverville no doubt made plans for an expedition through the
mountains, but they came to nothing. His leader, Saint-Pierre, was
having trouble with the Indians at his fort on the Assiniboine;
Niverville was recalled, and before long the entire party of French
explorers were making their way back to far-off Quebec, to help
Montcalm in his last desperate effort to save New France.

In 1754, and again in 1772, officers of the Hudson's Bay Company made
journeys of exploration from York Factory, on the western shores of
Hudson Bay, to the country of the Blackfoot Indians, among the
foothills of the Rocky Mountains; but it was not until 1793 that any
White Man was daring enough to penetrate their fastnesses. In that
year Alexander Mackenzie, who had four years earlier descended the
river that bears his name, to the shores of the Arctic Ocean, forced
his way through the Peace River Pass, and after suffering great
hardships, stood at last beside the waters of the Pacific, fulfilling
at last the dream of French explorers of an overland route to the
Western Sea.

Within the next few years discoveries followed thick and fast. The
North West Company, the Canadian rival of the Hudson's Bay Company in
the western fur trade, was reaching out eagerly for new fields to
conquer, and the more adventurous of its officers, scouting far ahead
of the main army, became more explorers than fur-traders. Mackenzie
was himself a partner of the North West Company, and where he led
others soon followed, breaking new trails through the mountains,
leaving the level plains and comparatively sparse vegetation of the
eastern side, and coming down into the almost tropical luxuriance of
the Pacific slope.

David Thompson, the astronomer of the North West Company, was the
first to find a way through the mountains in the neighbourhood of the
Kicking Horse Pass route, or the main line of the Canadian Pacific
Railway. In 1800 he made his way over to the Columbia Valley, perhaps
by what was later known as the Simpson Pass; and the same year Duncan
McGillivray found a route farther north by Howse Pass, named after
Jasper Howse, another Rocky Mountain explorer. Simon Fraser, who had
followed Mackenzie through the Peace Pass, in 1808 explored the river
that bears his name from the mountains to the sea, descending its
terrific canyons in a frail canoe.

At the very time that Fraser was making his way down this river,
Thompson was exploring the Kootenay and the Columbia. Two years
afterward the latter discovered the Athabaska Pass, which for many
years was to remain the principal highway of the fur-traders back and
forth through the mountains. Often enough the mountains above the pass
must have looked down upon the picturesque cavalcade of traders,
carrying goods over to the posts in New Caledonia or down the
Columbia, or bringing back the "returns" as the cargoes of furs were
called. One can picture the long string of pack-horses climbing up the
pass, with the cheerful philosophy (or diabolical cunning) of the
Indian cayuse, urged forward by fluent traders. One can see, too, at
nightfall, the camp-fires in the mountains; horses, browsing
contentedly; men lounging about waiting for their supper, perhaps
fresh venison, or the old stand-by pemmican; and later, pipe and story
and song--the beautiful old _chansons_ of French Canada with their
haunting refrains:

    A la claire fontaine
        M'en allant promener,
    J'ai trouvé l'eau si belle
      Que je m'y suis baigné.
          _I' ya longtemps que je t'aime,
          Jamais je ne t'oublierai._

or--

      Derrier' chez nous, ya-t-un étang,
        _En roulant ma boule_.
    Trois beaux canards s'en vont baignant,
          _En roulant ma boule.
            Rouli, roulant, ma boule roulant,
            En roulant ma boule roulant,
            En roulant ma boule._

After this initial age of exploration, most of the credit of which
belongs to the men of the North West Company, we come to a period of
travel. Some of the rarest and at the same time most interesting books
of travel in Northwestern America are those which describe overland
journeys to and from the Pacific by way of one or other of the famous
gateways through the Canadian Rockies. Such a book is Gabriel
Franchère's narrative including an account of his trip through the
mountains in 1814; another is that of Ross Cox, who with Franchère was
concerned in the dramatic events connected with the history of
Astoria, of which Washington Irving wrote such an entertaining and
thoroughly unreliable account. Ross Cox crossed the mountains three
years after Franchère.

Another little-known narrative is that of Sir George Simpson's
expedition of 1825. Sir George Simpson was then Governor of the
Hudson's Bay Company, and like Jehu he drove furiously. He travelled
in what was known as a light canoe, manned with picked boatmen famous
for speed, skill and endurance; they were off at daylight or earlier,
and did not camp before nightfall. In his journeys across the
continent, by the great water routes of the fur-trade, the Governor's
canoe bore about the same relation to the regular brigades that the
Twentieth Century Limited does to a freight train.

One of the most fascinating of the narratives of this period is Paul
Kane's _Wanderings of an Artist among the Indians of North America_.
Kane was a Toronto artist, who travelled across the continent studying
the manners and customs of the various tribes, and making a series of
most delightful sketches of them and of their country. His comments
on the natives and their habits are shrewd and entertaining, and if
written to-day would sometimes be thought much too frank for
publication. Kane crossed the Athabaska Pass in 1846, and returned the
same way the following year.

Five or six years earlier Sir George Simpson again traversed the
mountains, by the pass that bears his name, in the course of his
famous journey around the world. The journeys of Father De Smet, the
western missionary, of the Earl of Southesk, of Milton and Cheadle,
and of William Francis Butler, to mention only a few of the more
prominent, belong to the same general period.

Butler went through the Peace River Pass, and at its eastern entrance
climbed a steep hill known as the Buffalo's Head to get his first wide
view of the mountains. He tried to describe what he saw, but admitted
the futility of the attempt.

"Not more wooden," he says, "are the ark animals of our childhood,
than the words in which man would clothe the images of that higher
nature which the Almighty has graven into the shapes of lonely
mountains! Put down your wooden woods bit by bit; throw in colour
here, a little shade there, touch it up with sky and cloud, cast about
it that perfume of blossom or breeze, and in Heaven's name what does
it come to after all? Can the eye wander away, away, away until it is
lost in blue distance as a lark is lost in blue heaven, but the sight
still drinks the beauty of the landscape, though the source of the
beauty be unseen, as the source of the music which falls from the
azure depths of the sky.

"That river coming out broad and glittering from the dark mountains,
and vanishing into yon profound chasm with a roar which reaches up
even here--billowy seas of peaks and mountains beyond number away
there to south and west--that huge half dome which lifts itself above
all others sharp and clear cut against the older dome of heaven! Turn
east, look out into that plain--that endless plain where the
pine-trees are dwarfed to speargrass and the prairie to a
meadow-patch--what do you see? Nothing, poor blind reader, nothing,
for the blind is leading the blind; and all this boundless range of
river and plain, ridge and prairie, rocky precipice and snow-capped
sierra, is as much above my poor power of words, as He who built this
mighty nature is higher still than all."

Yet so insistent is the charm of the mountains, as he makes his way
ever deeper into their secret recesses, that he must try once more to
put his impressions into words:

"Wonderful things to look at are these white peaks, perched up so high
above our world. They belong to us, yet they are not of us. The eagle
links them to the earth; the cloud carries to them the message of the
sky; the ocean sends them her tempest; the air rolls her thunders
beneath their brows, and launches her lightnings from their sides; the
sun sends them his first greeting, and leaves them his latest kiss.
Yet motionless they keep their crowns of snow, their glacier crests of
jewels, and dwell among the stars heedless of time or tempest."

Up to the year of 1858 travel in the Rocky Mountains was confined to
one or other of the passes. Men did not wander off the beaten trails,
but hurried through east or west. Between 1858 and 1860 the members of
the Palliser Expedition, and particularly that tireless explorer, Dr.
James Hector, pushed into the very heart of the mountains, discovering
new passes, tracing rivers to their sources, and for the first time
giving the world some idea of the wonderful region of peaks, lakes and
valleys that lay beyond the western prairies. Among many other
familiar place-names in the Canadian Rockies, that of Kicking Horse
Pass was given by Dr. Hector, who on his first journey through the
pass was nearly killed by a vicious horse. It has before now been
suggested that a more appropriate name for this important route
through the mountains would be that of the explorer himself.

The task so splendidly initiated by Captain Palliser and his
associates of exploring and mapping the Canadian Rockies was afterward
taken up by the officers of the Canadian Geological Survey and the
Topographical Survey of Canada, and is still in progress.

One may round out this very brief survey of the opening up of the
Canadian Alps, the Wonderlands of the Canadian West, by mentioning
some recent expeditions of a group of explorers whose object was
rather recreation than science; who saw in these mountains a boundless
playground where tired men and women of the cities might find rest and
pleasure, where unclimbed peaks rise on every side to tempt the more
energetic and repay them with marvellous impressions of unforgettable
splendour, where snowbound passes lead one over into green valleys
holding in their embrace lakes of the most exquisite colouring, where
the mountain goat and the bighorn gaze down upon you from dizzy
heights or scamper up the face of impossible precipices, and the
silvertip lumbers off the trail with ponderous dignity, where the
day's tramp brings endless variety of towering cliff and snowy summit,
cathedral aisles in the primæval forest, falling curtains of mist from
gigantic glaciers, chaotic slopes of rock and alpine meadows dressed
in all the colours of the rainbow, where the camp-fire brings perfect
content and a spirit of comradeship unknown in the cities, where the
mountain air puts new life into you, fills you with wholesome
optimism, makes you realise as you never did before that the world is
good, good to look upon and good to live upon.

One need only mention the titles of some of the books in which these
expeditions are described to suggest the spirit that animates them:
Hornaday's _Camp-fires in the Canadian Rockies_, Schaffers's
_Old Indian Trails_, Outram's _In the Heart of the Canadian
Rockies_, Green's _Among the Selkirk Glaciers_. If we add the
wonderfully-illustrated work of Walter D. Wilcox, and the narratives
of Stutfield and Collie, Coleman, Baillie-Grohman, and a few others,
we have a little library of Canadian Alpine literature that will be a
revelation to any one who has not yet become familiar with the
irresistible appeal of this land of pure delight.

A word remains to be said, and it may as well be said here as
elsewhere, as to routes--how to get to the Canadian National Parks.
From Eastern Canada, and the Atlantic seaboard, probably the most
convenient route is the direct transcontinental line of the Canadian
Pacific Railway from Montreal, and by that route unquestionably the
most comfortable train is the well-known "Imperial Limited." From
Toronto, or points south of Toronto in the United States, the "Pacific
Express" of the Canadian Pacific Railway offers a direct route to the
Mountains. If your starting-point is in the Middle West, it will be
well to take the route from Chicago to Winnipeg and join the "Imperial
Limited" there; or the more direct line from Chicago to the main line
of the Canadian Pacific Railway at Moosejaw. All these routes will
bring you to the eastern portal of the mountains at Calgary, and on to
Banff and other points in the Parks. If you are bound for Jasper Park
in the north, any of the three transcontinental railways, the Grand
Trunk Pacific, Canadian Pacific, or Canadian Northern, will take you
direct from Winnipeg to Edmonton, and you can get in to the Park by
either the Grand Trunk Pacific or Canadian Northern.

If your starting-point is on the Pacific Coast the Canadian Pacific
Railway from Vancouver is the direct route, or you may join the main
line from the south at several points east of Vancouver. By the autumn
of 1914 the Grand Trunk Pacific will be completed to its Pacific
terminus, Prince Rupert, and the Canadian Northern may also be ready
for traffic to Vancouver before the end of the year. Round trips will
then be possible taking in all the Canadian Mountain Parks: From
Calgary by Canadian Pacific Railway to Rocky Mountain Park, Yoho Park
and Glacier Park, and on to Vancouver. From Vancouver north by boat to
Prince Rupert, and by Grand Trunk Pacific east to Robson Park and
Jasper Park; or possibly direct from Vancouver by Canadian Northern to
the same parks. From Jasper Park the return to Calgary would be by
Edmonton and the Canadian Pacific Railway branch line.

[Illustration: MOUNT TEMPLE. _Mary M. Vaux, W. S. Vaux and G. Vaux,
Jr._]

[Illustration: VERMILION LAKE AND MOUNT RUNDLE. _John Woodruff_]

[Illustration: THE THREE SISTERS, ROCKY MOUNTAINS PARK. _Canadian
Pacific Railway Company_]

[Illustration: MOUNT WAPTA AND SUMMIT LAKE. (_Yoho Park_) _Canadian
Pacific Railway Company_]



II

THE NATIONAL PARKS OF CANADA


The last spike in the first of Canada's transcontinental roads, the
Canadian Pacific Railway, was driven at Craigillachie, British
Columbia, in 1885. Two years later, after a memorable debate in the
House of Commons, an Act of Parliament was passed setting apart for
the use and enjoyment of the people of the young Dominion a national
park in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Thus was initiated a policy
which has since been developed upon broad and generous lines, and
which will ultimately give Canada an unrivalled system of magnificent
natural playgrounds.

The first park, as created in 1887, covered an area of 260 square
miles, with the little station of Banff, on the Canadian Pacific
Railway, as headquarters. In 1902 the area was enlarged to 5,000
square miles, but reduced again in 1911, under the terms of the Forest
Reserves and Parks Act, to 1,800 square miles. The object of the
reduction was apparently to confine the park to an area that could be
efficiently administered with the existing staff. It is understood,
however, that in view of the extraordinary popularity of this
wonderful mountain region, steps will be taken before long to
re-establish the boundaries of 1902. The wisdom of such a move cannot
be doubted. The increased cost of maintenance would be comparatively
slight, and the advantages would be enormous. It would make accessible
the exceedingly interesting country north of the present park
boundaries with its great alpine peaks, snow-fields and glaciers, its
beautiful valleys, lakes, mountain streams and waterfalls; it would
help to preserve from destruction by vandalism or sheer carelessness
many of the scenic beauties of the region; and would give to the wild
animals of the mountains a further lease of life.

Since the establishment of the first reservation, known officially as
Rocky Mountains Park, and popularly as the Banff Park, several other
similar districts have been set apart. Immediately west of Rocky
Mountains Park, but on the British Columbia side of the main range, is
Yoho Park, with an area of about 560 square miles. The boundaries of
this park also will, it is hoped, be enlarged in the near future. West
again, and still following the main line of the Canadian Pacific
Railway, we come to Glacier Park, in the Selkirk Mountains, with an
area of 468 square miles. Farther north, on the main line of the Grand
Trunk Pacific Railway, the Canadian Government has lately established
Jasper Park, with an area of 1,000 square miles. This, too, may be
expanded to several times its present dimensions within the next few
years.[1] It is possible also that a new park may be created between
Rocky Mountain Park and Jasper Park, to embrace the little-known
Brazeau River country and possibly the upper waters of the North
Saskatchewan, with the great peaks that lie up toward the continental
divide. Down near the International Boundary, at the extreme
southwestern corner of the province of Alberta, is Waterton Lake Park.
The present area is only sixteen square miles, but the Government is
being strongly urged to extend its boundaries so as to make the
reserve conterminous with Glacier Park on the United States side,
thereby creating what would in effect be an international park.[2]
North again, but still in the province of Alberta, are Buffalo Park
and Elk Island Park, the former of 160 square miles, a little south
of Wainwright, on the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, and the latter,
about the same area as Waterton Lake Park, near Lamont, on the
Canadian Northern Railway. The former is the home of the famous herd
of buffalo, now numbering over 1,200, most of which were purchased by
the Dominion Government in 1907 from Michel Don Pablo of Missoula,
Montana. The latter is a reservation for elk, moose and other large
animals.

[1] Increased in 1914 to 4,400 square miles.

[2] This has since been done, the present area of the park being 423
square miles.

In addition to the proposed Brazeau Park, access to which would be
provided by the Canadian Northern Railway, plans are being formulated
for a new park west of Glacier, to include Mount Revelstoke and the
surrounding region, and another on the Pacific Coast not far from the
city of Vancouver, to include the country between the north arm of
Burrard Inlet and Pitt River.

The somewhat peculiar boundaries of the Canadian National Parks may
call for a word of explanation. It will be noticed that on their
western, or rather southwestern, sides Rocky Mountains and Jasper
Parks stop at the continental divide, or in other words at the
boundary between Alberta and British Columbia. The explanation is
this: when British Columbia came into the Dominion she retained
control of the public lands within her borders; on the other hand when
the province of Alberta was created her land remained vested in the
Dominion. Consequently the federal authorities may establish national
parks wherever they will on the Alberta side of the mountains, but
have no jurisdiction on the British Columbia side except in one
particular region. This is a strip of land forty miles wide, or twenty
miles on each side of the Canadian Pacific Railway main line,
extending from the summit of the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.
When British Columbia entered Confederation in 1871, one of the terms
of union was that the new province should be given railway connection
with Eastern Canada. In fulfilment of this agreement, the Dominion
granted the Canadian Pacific Railway a subsidy of $25,000,000 and
25,000,000 acres of land. British Columbia was also to give a money
subsidy to the company, but finding it impossible to meet its
obligations the Dominion assumed the burden in consideration of a
grant of this forty-mile strip across the province. It is in this
strip, therefore, that the Yoho and Glacier Parks have been located,
as well as the proposed park at Burrard Inlet.

The policy of the Dominion Government in administering its national
parks is to throw them wide open to the people, to provide convenient
means of access to every point of interest within their boundaries, to
preserve intact their natural beauties and safeguard their wild life,
and to grant all visitors the widest liberty consistent with these
objects and with the interests of the people themselves; in fact to
provide the maximum of convenience and protection with the minimum of
interference. Thanks largely to the intelligence, broad-mindedness and
genuine enthusiasm of the officials in charge of the Parks, from the
Commissioner in Ottawa to the Forest Ranger on duty in some remote
corner of the reservation, the administration has been conspicuously
successful, as every one will admit who has had the good fortune to
visit any of these magnificent national playgrounds.

The extent to which the Parks administration is prepared to go in
insuring the comfort and convenience of those who seek rest or
pleasure in the mountains is admirably illustrated in the following
extract from the Commissioner's Report:

"The Parks Branch policy necessarily relates to the quality of the
service of whatever kind rendered by those dealing with the tourist:
character of accommodation, avoidance of congestion, protection
against extortion, provision of minor attractions to fill in between
the nature trips, construction and maintenance of good roads and
trails, special care in the matter of the dust nuisance and rough
roads, supervision over sanitary conditions, water supply, horses and
vehicles, guides, drivers, charges and rates, furnishing of full and
reliable information, and, generally, the reduction of discomforts to
a minimum and the administration of affairs so that the tourist shall
be as satisfied with the treatment received while in the parks as he
inevitably must be with the scenic wonders he has viewed."

The accommodation of the hotels in the parks is excellent in every
way. In spite of their out-of-the-way situation they provide all the
comforts and luxuries of city hotels, and at very moderate rates.
There are several good hotels at Banff in the Rocky Mountains Park,
the best of which is the Banff Springs Hotel, maintained by the
Canadian Pacific Railway. The railway company also owns the very
comfortable Chalet at Lake Louise, in the same park, as well as the
hotels at Field, in Yoho Park, and Glacier, in Glacier Park. The Grand
Trunk Pacific Railway has also decided to build hotels at Jasper and
Miette Hot Springs, in Jasper Park, as well as at Grand Fork in Robson
Park, within full view of the monarch of the Canadian Rockies, Mount
Robson. Robson Park has recently been set apart by the Government of
British Columbia. Its boundaries extended to the height of land where
they run with those of Jasper Park.

One of the admirable features of the administration of the Canadian
National Parks is the leasing of lots on nominal terms, so that those
who prefer home to hotel life may build their own cottages. At Banff
you can obtain a lot for from $8.00 to $15.00 a year, according to
position and area. The leases run for forty-two years, with the
privilege of renewal for an equal period. The same privilege may be
obtained in Jasper Park.

One of the principal activities of the Park administration is of
course the building of roads and trails to the various points of
interest, mountains, lakes, waterfalls, and so forth. The Canadian
parks are still in their infancy from an administrative point of view,
and an immense amount of work remains to be done before their
innumerable points of beauty and grandeur are made conveniently
accessible. Still it is possible to-day to reach all the principal
peaks and valleys with a moderate expenditure of time and energy. In
the four principal parks, Rocky Mountains, Yoho, Glacier and Jasper,
there are now, 163 miles of good carriage road, and nearly 300 miles
of trail, and this mileage will be largely increased within the next
few years. It is the intention also to provide foot-paths to all the
nearer points, with rest-houses, for those who prefer to wander about
afoot.

An ambitious project closely associated with the parks is the
automobile road from Calgary to Vancouver. This is being built through
the co-operation of the Dominion Government, the provincial
governments of Alberta and British Columbia, and the Canadian Pacific
Railway. Portions of the road are already completed, and the balance
has been surveyed and the necessary appropriations provided. The
present coach road from Calgary to Banff will be improved to form the
first link; and the Banff to Laggan road will be utilised as far as
Castle Mountain. Here the automobile road turns up Little Vermilion
Creek to Vermilion Pass, the boundary of Rocky Mountains Park on this
side. From Vermilion Pass the road will cross the Briscoe Range by
Sinclair Pass to Sinclair Hot Springs, and ascend the valley of the
Columbia to Windermere Lake and the source of the Columbia. Crossing
the spit of land that separates the Columbia from its mighty tributary
the Kootenay, the road will follow the latter stream to Wardner, then
turn west to Kootenay Lake and Nelson, cross the Columbia again after
its huge bend to the north, and swing down to the international
boundary at Grand Forks, where connection will no doubt be made some
time with automobile roads from the south. From Grand Forks the road
will follow a general westerly direction, crossing Okanagan River near
Fairview, ascending the Similkameen, traversing the Hope Range and
coming down the Coquihalla to Hope on the Fraser River, and descending
the Fraser to Vancouver.

An alternative route runs west from Windermere, over the Wells Pass,
crosses the Lardo country to Killarney at the head of the Lower Arrow
Lake, thence up Fire Valley to the present wagon road near Monashee
Mines, follows the road to Vernon and Grand Prairie, and by way of
Douglas Lake to Merritt and a junction with the route already
described. The main road from Calgary to Vancouver will have a total
length of about six hundred miles, and will provide one of the most
magnificent scenic routes in the world.

From Grande Prairie a branch is projected to Kamloops, and south to
Nicola. By way of Kamloops and Ashcroft, also, connection may
eventually be made with the famous Caribou Road to the north country,
and in the far north, the Caribou Road may be extended to Fort George
and up the Fraser to Robson and Jasper Parks, bringing the traveller
back to the eastern side of the Rockies at Edmonton. From Kamloops,
again, a road may be built up the North Thompson to Robson Park.

Another alternative route, and one that has already been practically
decided upon, will swing east from Wardner and traverse the Crow's
Nest Pass to the Alberta side of the mountains, where it will follow
the foothills to Calgary. Still another branch of the main motor road
will run from Castle Mountain through Rocky Mountains and Yoho Parks
to Field and Golden, thence up the Columbia Valley to a junction with
the main road. Portions of this branch road have already been built by
the Dominion Government in the two parks. Apart from other advantages,
the completion of this branch and of that portion of the main road
from Castle Mountain to the Columbia Valley, will provide a motor road
with easy grades through beautiful valleys and over several mountain
passes, completely encircling the famous region of magnificent peaks,
snow-fields, glaciers, lakes and waterfalls centring in Lake Louise, a
region which in its combination of majesty and beauty, and its variety
of colouring and composition, is surely without a peer. From the main
road trails will lead inward to Consolation Valley, Moraine Lake and
the Valley of the Ten Peaks, Paradise Valley, Lake O'Hara, the
Ottertail Range, and a perfect galaxy of great peaks many of which
have never yet been climbed or even visited.

As already mentioned, the administration of the Canadian National
Parks is designed to interfere as little as possible either with the
natural features of the parks or with the liberty of those who come to
enjoy their beauty. There are in fact only two important MUST NOTS
addressed to visitors in the Parks, and these are that they must not
destroy trees, and that they must not kill wild animals. Even in these
cases the policy is rather one of education than prohibition. People
are being taught to appreciate the scenic as well as material value of
the forest areas in the parks, and the simple precautions that are
necessary to protect these areas from destruction by fire; and they
are also learning to protect rather than destroy the wild life that
seeks sanctuary here. One suggestion only remains of police
supervision. If you bring a gun into any of the National Parks, it is
sealed as you cross the boundary, and severe penalties are provided
for breaking the seal while the sportsman remains within the park.

The marvellous effect of protected areas on the increase of wild life
has been often commented upon, but the instinct which seems to draw
all wild creatures, and particularly the more timid and shy animals,
to these sanctuaries must always be a matter of interest and
astonishment to visitors. To one who has watched the rapid increase in
Rocky Mountains Park and the other reservations of animals which a few
years ago were rarely seen, the situation is exceedingly gratifying.
The diaries of park officers in this regard make interesting reading.
Deer are now found everywhere in the park, and have become so tame
that "numbers wandered into Banff town and remained there for days."
Mountain goat are constantly met with along the trails, and were
lately found on the east side of the Spray River, which had not
occurred for many years. Flocks of twenty-five or more may be seen any
day along the Banff-Laggan road. What is even more satisfactory,
bighorn which had entirely disappeared from most parts of the Canadian
Rockies are now increasing rapidly in the Parks. Black bear have
become numerous, and a number of grizzlies and cubs have been seen, as
well as red fox, wolverine, marten and lynx, and tracks of mountain
lion. Large flocks of wild duck are reported on Bow Lake, as well as
ruffled grouse, partridge, rabbits and other small game in the woods.
Cinnamon bear are reported in Jasper Park, as well as a marked
increase of beaver.

A word or two may not be out of place as to some of the plans for the
future of the Parks administration. The Zoo at Banff is to be moved to
a much more suitable location on the lower slopes of Tunnel Mountain,
and systematically developed with the object of making it a complete
exhibition of the wild life of Western Canada. A special reserve is to
be set apart in some suitable place for antelope, which do not appear
to thrive in any of the existing parks. It is proposed to establish a
protected area in the Fort Smith country about seven hundred miles
north of Edmonton, for the preservation of the herd of wood
buffalo--the only buffalo still living in the wild state. This
would also be used as a sanctuary for other animals of the northern
regions. It is also proposed, following the very successful
experiments in Alaska, to provide reservations for reindeer in the
Yukon. Another suggestion, which it is earnestly hoped may be adopted,
looks to the setting apart at various points throughout the Dominion
of small sanctuaries for the preservation of bird life.

One other plan that is being earnestly advocated by the progressive
Commissioner of Dominion Parks will appeal with peculiar force to
those who are labouring to bring the physical, mental and moral
advantages of out-of-door life within reach of the masses of our
city-dwellers. The plan is simply to bring National Parks to the
people--a step distinctly in advance of the old policy of providing
parks, and letting the people get to them if they were able. The
Commissioner recognises the fact that the great mountain parks of
Canada are for the most part accessible only to the comparatively
well-to-do. To the majority of those who live in the cities the cost
of the railway journey is of course prohibitive. He proposes, then,
that the Dominion Government should secure a suitable tract of wild
land within easy reach of each of the principal centres of population
throughout the country, make it accessible by means of roads and
trails, put it in charge of competent wardens, make it a sanctuary for
the wild life of the neighbourhood, and throw it wide open to the
people. Probably no other country is so favourably situated for such a
measure at the present time. Wild land, with every variety of
delightful natural scenery, may still be set apart or secured at no
great cost within an hour or so's journey of most of the Canadian
cities. At the same time these cities are growing at a phenomenal
rate, and in a few years' time when the need of these natural
playgrounds of the people will be much more acute than it is to-day,
the cost of the land would probably be prohibitive. An illustration of
what may be done for other Canadian cities is the proposed park on the
British Columbia coast between Burrard Inlet and Pitt River. This park
will be of great benefit to the present people of the city of
Vancouver, but it will be of infinitely greater moment to the
Vancouver of fifty years hence with its population of a million or
more.

It is worth while to read the debates in the Canadian House of Commons
of a quarter of a century ago, when the first of Canada's National
Parks was set apart for the benefit of the people of the Dominion, and
note the practical unanimity of sentiment among statesmen on both
sides of politics, Sir John Macdonald, Sir Richard Cartwright, the
late Lord Strathcona, Peter Mitchell, and many others, most of whom
have since gone beyond the reach of worldly problems, as to the
manifold advantages of such a policy. Equally significant are the
words of the present Governor General, His Royal Highness the Duke of
Connaught, at a meeting in Ottawa in March, 1913. "I do not think," he
said, "that Canada realises what an asset the nation possesses in the
parks. These areas have been preserved from the vandal hand of the
builder for the use and enjoyment of the people, who may take their
holidays there and keep close to nature under the most comfortable
conditions, assuring a store of health which will make them the better
able to cope with the strenuous life to which they return after their
vacation."

Even more significant are the words of Lord Bryce, late ambassador to
the United States: "Let us think of the future. We are the trustees of
the future. We are not here for ourselves alone. All these gifts were
not given to us to be used by one generation or with the thought of
one generation only before our minds. We are the heirs of those who
have gone before, and charged with the duty of what we owe to those
who come after, and there is no duty which seems to be higher than
that of handing on to them undiminished facilities for the enjoyment
of some of the best gifts the Creator has seen fit to bestow upon His
people."

[Illustration: MOUNT LEFROY AND LAKE LOUISE. (_After a midsummer
snowstorm_) _Mary M. Vaux, W. S. Vaux, and G. Vaux, Jr._]

[Illustration: CATHEDRAL PEAK. (_From Kicking Horse Pass_) _Canadian
Pacific Railway Company_]

[Illustration: MOOSE PASS. (_On the Borders of Robson Park_) _R. C. W.
Lett_]

[Illustration: THE WALL OF JERICHO. _J. F. Porter_]

[Illustration: HOODOOS IN THE VALLEY OF THE BOW. _John Woodruff_]



III

IN AND ABOUT BANFF


Banff is probably one of the most cosmopolitan communities in the
world. Although its permanent population hardly exceeds one thousand,
about 75,000 visitors registered during the season of 1913, coming
from every out-of-the-way corner of the globe, Finland and Tasmania,
the Isle of Man and the Fiji Islands, Siam, Korea and Japan, Norway,
Egypt and the Argentine, New Zealand, Mexico, Turkey and Borneo. In
fact, one is rather surprised to find no representative here from
Greenland or Terra del Fuego. The bulk of these tourists of course
come from other parts of Canada, from the United States, and from the
United Kingdom, but practically every country in the world sends its
quota, large or small, to this wonderful playground in the heart of
the Canadian Rockies.

To accommodate all these visitors there are several comfortable hotels
in Banff, notably the Banff Springs Hotel, and the Chateau Rundle.
The Banff Springs Hotel, which has been repeatedly enlarged to meet
the ever-increasing requirements of tourist traffic, stands on the
summit of a rocky butte above the junction of the Bow and Spray
Rivers, and commands a strikingly beautiful view to the eastward where
the Bow has forced a passage between Tunnel Mountain and Mount Rundle.
Bow Falls lie immediately beneath, and in the distance the Fairholme
Range makes a splendid background.

Of the large number of tourists who visit the Canadian Alps, the
majority do not get very far away from Banff. The reason is perhaps
not hard to seek. At Banff they find, without any particular effort,
delightful views of mountain scenery, with all the comforts and
luxuries of eastern pleasure resorts. Comparatively short carriage
drives over good roads take them to a dozen points of interest in the
immediate neighbourhood. One of the most popular of these is the Cave
and Basin, a mile or so up the valley of the Bow, where one may enjoy
a plunge into the clear green waters of the pool. Other springs, with
a much higher temperature, boil out of the upper slope of Sulphur
Mountain, flowing over a series of brilliantly coloured terraces into
natural limestone pools. Here, as well as at the Basin, bath-houses
have been provided with every appliance for those who seek health or
merely pleasure. The drive up to the springs, through the pines, and
with ever-widening views of the enchanting valley, is well worth while
for its own sake.

A much finer view, however, is to be had from the summit of Tunnel
Mountain. One may drive, ride, or if he prefers a little moderate
exercise, walk to the summit. The southern face of Tunnel Mountain
drops in a sheer precipice nearly a thousand feet to the valley of the
Bow. Beyond rises the rugged bulk of Rundle, with the Goat Range in
the distance, the Spray winding as a silver thread down the valley,
the Bow sweeping down from the northwest, a noble circle of peaks
filling the horizon to the northwest and north, the Vermilion Lakes
sparkling in their emerald setting, and around to the northeast, a
glimpse of Lake Minnewanka.

With a fishing rod, and any other congenial companion, an enjoyable
canoe trip may be had to Vermilion Lakes. The way lies up the Bow to
Echo Creek, and by this miniature waterway to the lakes. As an
afternoon's paddle nothing more delightful could be imagined, and the
fishing is excellent, but the really serious fisherman will prefer the
longer trip to Lake Minnewanka where lake trout are to be had of
fighting temper and phenomenal size. Fourteen fish of a total weight
of forty-three pounds represented one day's catch of a couple of
sportsmen in this lake; sixteen caught the following day weighed
forty-eight pounds. These, however, were pygmies beside the gigantic
trout landed by Dr. Seward Webb in 1899, which tipped the scales at
forty-seven pounds. To silence the incredulous, this monster is still
preserved in a glass case at the Minnewanka Chalet.

A drive of nine miles from Banff, skirting the base of Cascade
Mountain, lands the traveller on the shores of Lake Minnewanka. On the
way he may visit a herd of about 25 buffalo, and enjoy the view from
the rustic bridge down into the Devil's Canyon. The lake is some
sixteen miles in length, and one may explore it either in a boat or by
chartering the launch provided by the Canadian Pacific Railway. It
swings, in the shape of a great sickle, around the base of Mount
Inglismaldie, whose dizzy precipices soar some thousands of feet into
the sky, with the glorious pinnacles of Mount Peechee in the
background.

Another delightful drive leads past the Cave and Basin and around the
northern end of Sulphur Mountain to Sundance Canyon, a weird little
gorge through which Sundance Creek rushes down to its junction with
the Bow. The plateau above the gorge was at one time a favourite
Indian camping ground, and the scene of the barbaric Sun Dance.

On the northern bank of the Bow, high up above the river, stand a
number of those fantastic natural monuments called Hoodoos, an
excellent view of which may be gained by taking the drive around the
Loop to the foot of Mount Rundle.

So far we have been confined to points of interest at no great
distance from the village of Banff, and reached in each case by
well-built carriage roads. Back and forth over these roads throughout
the season drive streams of pilgrims, absorbing to a greater or less
extent the manifold beauties of mountain, lake and river, wild canyon
and sunny meadow, sombre pine woods and mountain slopes blazing with
the rainbow colours of countless wildflowers; but above all, drinking
in the glorious sunlight and revivifying air of the mountains. The
great majority will always prefer to worship nature from the
comfortable if somewhat crowded seat of a tally-ho, with a luxurious
hotel to return to in the evening, and after all why should one blame
them; but there will always be some who prefer the wild mountain
trail to the macadamized road, the cayuse with all his idiosyncrasies
to the upholstered coach, and the camp-fire to all the luxuries of a
modern hotel.

Fortunately there are to-day, and will be for some years to come, many
miles of trail for each mile of road within the confines of the
Canadian National Parks. The present policy seems to be to gradually
develop the trails into carriage roads, but one may venture the hope
that this policy will not be carried too far. The thought of driving
to the foot of Mount Assiniboine on a motor bus, and having its
glories profaned by a professional guide perhaps through a megaphone,
is too painful to admit.

The evolution of mountain roads is an interesting problem in itself.
The foundation is nearly always an Indian trail, one of those ancient
thoroughfares that run hither and thither throughout the mountains,
following the courses of innumerable streams, and winding up over
mountain passes and down again to the valleys that lie beyond. There
is a peculiar thrill of excitement in falling unexpectedly upon one of
these relics of other days. The imagination leaps back to the time
when Indian hunters followed them in search of elk and deer, mountain
goat and bighorn. With the exception of a handful of Stonies, whose
days are numbered, the Indian no longer hunts in the mountains; and
the trails he once followed are now mostly covered with underbrush or
blocked with fallen timber.

The first step in the conversion of an Indian trail into a modern road
is to cut through the down timber. Expert axemen are sent out for this
work, which varies according to circumstances from the cutting out of
an occasional log to the hewing of a path through a tangle of fallen
trees ten or fifteen feet high. Wherever possible the latter is of
course left severely alone, but it sometimes happens that no way
around the obstacle can be found and there is nothing for it but to
cut out a path. The huge game of jack-straws may cover only a few
yards, or it may extend for several miles.

Incidentally the axemen straighten the trail more or less. The
practice among the Indians, and after them the fur-traders and white
trappers, was to follow an old trail until a fallen tree blocked the
way. It would have to be a formidable obstacle to stop the average
cayuse, but occasionally even that professional acrobat was brought to
a standstill. The rider in such case never cut his way through if it
could be avoided. He followed the lines of least resistance, turned
right or left through the standing timber until he had won around the
fallen tree and back to the trail again. The next man took the new
path, until he was perhaps brought up by a later windfall and in his
turn added another twist to the devious course of the original trail.
It can readily be imagined that these forest thoroughfares did not at
any period of their history represent the shortest route between any
two points; and it may as well be admitted here that the policy of
every man for himself in trail-making is as active to-day as it was a
hundred years ago. Each one of us who has camped in unfamiliar valleys
of the mountains must plead guilty to the same selfish practice.
Hurrying along the trail, anxious perhaps to reach a certain
camping-ground before dark, the temptation to flank a fallen tree
rather than laboriously cut through it, is irresistible. The thought
is there, though we may not admit it, that we may never come this way
again, and the next man must look out for himself.

It remains for the trail-makers to unravel the tangled skein and
reduce it to something very remotely resembling a straight line.
Having cut through the fallen timber and roughly bridged the deeper
creeks, the result is a good pack trail. This is widened and cleared
from year to year; levelled, graded and provided with substantial
bridges, to convert it into a carriage road; and finally macadamized.
And as the picturesque trail is converted into the eminently modern
and respectable macadamized road, the equally picturesque pack-train
disappears and in its place we see, and smell, that emblem of the
twentieth century, the automobile.

However, let us not meet trouble half-way. There are still, thank
fortune, many miles of trail in the Canadian national parks which the
most enterprising automobile could not possibly negotiate, and many
more miles of wonderful mountain country that as yet are even
trailess. From the main road which follows the Bow River, and roughly
speaking runs southeast and northwest through the centre of the Banff
Park, good trails branch off on either side up every important valley.
Portions of some of these have been converted into roads, such as
those to Lake Minnewanka, Sundance Canyon and up Spray River. From the
Chalet at the western end of Lake Minnewanka, where the road now ends,
a trail has been opened along the north shore of the lake to its
eastern extremity, through the Devil's Gap and Ghost Valley, and
across the South Fork of Ghost River to the Stony Indian Reserve,
which lies just outside the Park.

Ghost Valley is a weird, uncanny canyon, the scene of many wild Indian
legends. It is believed to mark the ancient valley of the Bow,
Minnewanka and a couple of smaller lakes being the sole remaining
relics of the channel. No water now runs through Ghost Valley, though
mountain torrents and waterfalls dash down its precipitous sides. Each
disappears in its limestone bed, which must cover a network of
subterranean channels. The mountains end abruptly in the Devil's Gap,
from which one looks out on the plains, or rather on the border land
between plain and mountain. A few miles to the north rises a grim peak
known as the Devil's Head, and the whole country is studded with
Hoodoos and other strange natural features appropriate to such a
region.

Sir George Simpson, who entered the mountains by the Devil's Gap on
his expedition of 1841, camped by the side of Lake Minnewanka, which
he named Lake Peechee after his guide, a chief of the Mountain Crees.
Peechee is still remembered in the splendid peak which rises behind
Mount Inglismaldie. Ghost Valley was the scene of an exploit of which
Sir George Simpson tells the story.

A Cree and his squaw had been tracked into the valley by five warriors
of a hostile tribe. "On perceiving the odds that were against him, the
man gave himself up for lost, observing to the woman that as they
could die but once they had better make up their minds to submit to
their present fate without resistance. The wife, however, replied that
as they had but one life to lose, they were the more decidedly bound
to defend it to the last, even under the most desperate circumstances;
adding that, as they were young and by no means pitiful, they had an
additional motive for preventing their hearts from becoming small.
Then, suiting the action to the word, the heroine brought the foremost
warrior to the earth with a bullet, while the husband, animated by a
mixture of shame and hope, disposed of two more of the enemy with his
arrows. The fourth, who had by this time come to pretty close
quarters, was ready to take vengeance on the courageous woman with
uplifted tomahawk, when he stumbled and fell; and in the twinkling of
an eye the dagger of his intended victim was buried in his heart.
Dismayed at the death of his four companions, the sole survivor of
the assailing party saved himself by flight, after wounding his male
opponent by a ball in the arm."

Other trails lead up Cascade River from the Minnewanka road, and over
the Park boundaries to the Panther River country, connecting also at
Sawback Creek with the Forty Mile trail; and up the east bank of Spray
River, and between the Goat Range and the Three Sisters, to Trout
Lakes, connecting with the road which follows the west bank of the
Spray, and continuing on to the foot of Mount Assiniboine, just over
the Park boundaries, which on this southwestern side follow the height
of land. Another runs from the end of the Sundance Canyon road up
Healy Creek to Simpson Pass, with a branch trail to Fatigue Mountain
on the divide; while others again take you up Redearth Creek to Shadow
Lake and one of the giants of this part of the Rockies, Mount Ball,
and by way of Johnston Creek to the Sawback Range and its wonderful
glaciers. It is impossible to give any real impression of the
marvellous region through which these mountain trails lead you, of its
scores of great peaks whose turrets, spires or domes climb into the
very heavens, of its snow-fields and glaciers, bleak mountain passes
and exquisite alpine meadows carpeted with millions of flowers, its
primæval forests and rushing torrents, sparkling waterfalls and
emerald or turquoise lakes. To appreciate the mountains, you must come
and see them at first hand, and to see them at their very best, you
must take tent and pony and provisions, not forgetting tobacco if you
are a normal man, and get well out on the trail, away from hotels and
railways and every suggestion of the artificial life you have left
behind you.

[Illustration: THE VALLEY OF THE BOW]

[Illustration: TRAIL NEAR BANFF. _Canadian Pacific Railway Company_]



IV

THE CANADIAN MATTERHORN


Mount Assiniboine lies about sixteen miles from Banff as the crow
flies, but by trail it is more than twice that distance. It is not
visible from any of the lower mountains about Banff, such as Tunnel
and Sulphur, being hidden by the intervening ranges, but if you are
sufficient of a mountain-climber to win to the summit of Mount Rundle
you will gain a view of the mighty pyramid to the south that will
alone make the climb worth while. Cascade Mountain, some miles north
of the Bow, also offers the ambitious climber an inspiring sight of
the Matterhorn of the Rockies. Sir James Outram, the famous
mountaineer, who was the first man to reach the summit of Assiniboine,
says that the view he had of the peak from the summit of Cascade
Mountain, towering over two thousand feet above where he stood, first
fired his ambition to conquer what was then believed to be an
unscalable peak.

The first mention of Mount Assiniboine is in the report of the Rocky
Mountain expedition of the late George M. Dawson, of the Canadian
Geological Survey, in 1884. It is quite possible that the peak may
have been seen by the missionary De Smet, who crossed the White Man's
Pass in 1845, but he says nothing about it in his narrative. Dr.
Dawson first saw the peak from Copper Mountain, some distance west of
Banff, and later from White Man's Pass, near what is now the southern
extremity of the Park. He named it after the tribe of Indians known as
the Assiniboines.

But although Dr. Dawson and his party of surveyors saw and admired
Mount Assiniboine from a distance, neither he nor any other white man
is known to have reached its base until 1893, when R. L. Barrett, an
American mountain-climber, with Tom Wilson of Banff, made their way to
its foot by way of Healy Creek, Simpson Pass and Simpson River. Two
years later Mr. Barrett made a second trip to the mountain by the same
route, accompanied this time by James F. Porter and Walter Dwight
Wilcox, who has since become widely known as an interpreter of Rocky
Mountain scenery. Tom Wilson outfitted the party, but was unable to
accompany them. He sent, however, one of his best men, Bill Peyto.

Wilson, Peyto and Fred Stephens are _the_ guides of the Canadian
Rockies. There are to-day scores of more or less capable guides in the
various National Parks, but these three alone are famous. One or other
of them has accompanied, or led, nearly every expedition of any note
into the unexplored parts of the mountains. Tom Wilson is not only a
competent outfitter and a splendid guide, but he is also a renowned
spinner of yarns, and a very mine of information on the Rockies. As
some one has said of him, he knows more about the Canadian Rockies
than any other man has ever yet possessed. A visit to Tom Wilson is
not the least delightful of memories that the intelligent tourist will
carry away with him from Banff. Stephens and Peyto are men of the same
calibre, unerring on the trail, delightful around the camp-fire, and
withal thoroughly good fellows. But we must leave them for the
present, and return to the Assiniboine expedition.

The first camp was made on Healy Creek, where they arrived after a
long tramp over a bad trail, soaked through from wet brush, but
nevertheless thoroughly happy. The camp-fire soon dried their clothes,
a hot supper was before them, and after that they would roll
themselves up in their blankets and sleep as only those may sleep
whose bed is of balsam boughs and who breathe the life-giving air of
the mountains. Above all, they were on the road to Assiniboine.

The next day's journey took them up the north fork of Healy Creek, and
they camped a few miles from Simpson Pass, crossing the continental
divide from Alberta into British Columbia the following morning. At
the summit the snow drifts were fifteen or twenty feet deep, though it
was the month of July, but as they turned down the southerly slope the
snow disappeared and in its place appeared immense banks of white
anemones and yellow Alpine lilies. The mossy woods through which the
trail led them the previous day had been carpeted with the
round-leafed orchid, with here and there a nodding Calypso, one of the
most daintily beautiful and fragrant of the mountain flowers.

On the northern side of the pass they had left behind a stream whose
waters eventually flow into Hudson Bay. An Indian trail now led them
through deep and sombre woods, beside the banks of a river which
empties into the Pacific Ocean. The following day they travelled
through the Simpson valley, crossing and recrossing the river or its
small branches, and camping in a high valley two thousand feet above
the river, above which again towered on either side smooth cliffs
whose dark faces were relieved with silvery waterfalls. Opposite the
camp the walls of the mountain had been carved by nature into one of
those curiously realistic representations of a mediæval castle that is
found here and there in the Rockies. "One might easily imagine that
these sharp pinnacles and rocky clefts were ramparts, embrasures, and
turreted fortifications. But the wild goats, marmots and picas were
the sole owners of this castle."

A few hours' tramp brought them the next day to the summit of a high
pass, from which they had their first glimpse of Assiniboine, piercing
the sky beyond an intervening barrier of snowy peaks. Another day's
journey, through fallen timber, along the winding shore of a beautiful
lake, and over a rocky ridge to a second lake, brought them to the
object of their heart's desire. Assiniboine at last!

"The majestic mountain," says Wilcox, "which is a noble pyramid of
rock towering above snow fields, was clearly reflected in the water
surface. Such a picture so suddenly revealed aroused the utmost
enthusiasm of all our party, and unconsciously every one paused in
admiration while our horses strayed from the trail to graze.
Continuing once more, we traversed some open places among low ridges
covered with beautiful larches. We passed through a delightful region
which descended gently for half a mile to a treeless moor, where we
pitched camp. Behind us was a clump of trees, before us Mount
Assiniboine, and on our left a lake of considerable size, which washed
the very base of the mountain and extended northwards in the bottom of
a broad valley."

Here they remained for a couple of weeks, exploring the neighbourhood,
and obtaining photographs of the mountain, some of which are
reproduced in Wilcox's wonderfully illustrated book on the Rockies. A
couple of days were spent by Wilcox, Barrett and Peyto in a complete
circuit of the mountain, a distance as they were compelled to travel
of fifty-one miles, through a country for the most part absolutely
devoid of trails, and covered in places with a very wilderness of
fallen timber. For hours their only means of travel was along the tops
of prostrate trunks piled ten and twelve feet above the ground. They
were rewarded, however, by a magnificent view of the south side of
Mount Assiniboine, never before revealed to white men.

The fascination of this singularly noble peak and its splendid setting
of névé and glacier, lake and forest, drew Mr. Wilcox to its feet
again in 1899, accompanied this time by Henry G. Bryant and Louis J.
Steele, who made the first attempt to climb the mountain, reaching an
elevation of ten thousand feet. Approaching storms then drove them
back, and on the last ice slope they both had a narrow escape. Steele
lost his foothold and dragged Bryant with him. "There was but one
possible escape from a terrible fall. A projecting rock of
considerable size appeared not far below, and Steele with a skilful
lunge of his ice-axe swung round to it and anchored himself in a
narrow crevice where the snow had melted away. No sooner had he come
to a stop than Bryant shot over him from above and likewise found
safety. Otherwise they would have fallen about six hundred feet, with
serious if not fatal results."

An incident of the outward journey is so characteristic of one of the
innumerable phases of Rocky Mountain scenery that one may venture to
borrow Mr. Wilcox's graphic description: "Whatever interest there may
have been to learn our whereabouts was absorbed upon reaching the
ridge crest by a revelation of wild and gloomy grandeur that I have
never seen equalled. Our little band of men and horses were standing
upon a craggy ledge, where splintered rocks, frost-rent and rough,
rose through perpetual snows, making a tower of observation, whence we
looked out upon a mountain wilderness. Shifting winds were sweeping
fog-banks and clouds far above the highest trees of a forest-clad
valley, not faintly discernible through the storm. Yet they were below
the crest of our lofty pinnacle, where our storm-beaten band of
horses, steaming in moisture, stood darkly outlined against the pale
mists. No gleam of light broke through the lurid sky. The monotonous
grey of falling snow had given place to heaving bands of clouds, for
the storm was breaking. Then slowly and mysteriously beyond a dark
abyss rose a beautiful vision of mountains clad in new snow. Their
bases rested on unsubstantial fog, their tops were partially concealed
by clinging mists, and they were apparently so far away as to seem
like the highest mountains in the world."

Their route to the mountain from Banff had been by a branch of Healy
Creek to the continental divide and along this high plateau to Simpson
valley; they returned by way of the Spray. This is now the recognised
route to Assiniboine, along which the Park authorities have opened a
good trail. Mr. Wilcox describes it as the easiest, and at the same
time most uninteresting, of several possible routes; and that by way
of Healy Creek and the continental divide as the most varied and
attractive. A good trail is now available up Healy Creek to the
plateau, and no doubt in time it will be extended to Mount
Assiniboine. Another shorter route by the south fork of Healy Creek
has also been partially opened; so that in the course of a year or two
it will be possible to visit the monarch of the southern Canadian
Rockies by any one of several alternative routes.

Although popularly reputed to be unscalable, attempts were made after
that of Bryant and Steele to get to the summit of Mount Assiniboine,
first by two brothers named Walling, and later by Bryant and Wilcox,
but without success although the first record of ten thousand feet was
considerably increased. Finally, however, in 1901, Mr. (now Sir James)
Outram, with two Swiss guides, Häsler and Bohren, reached the highest
peak after six hours' climbing. The story of the climb is modestly
told in Outram's book, the following passages from which will give
some idea at least of the stupendous precipices that had to be
negotiated and the skill and daring demanded in such a climb. On the
way up Outram rested for a time near the summit of one of the spurs of
the main peak. "Here," he says, "for some moments I stood in solemn
awe, perched like a statue in a lofty niche cut in the topmost angle
of a vast, titanic temple, with space in front, on either side, above,
below, the yawning depths lost in the wreathing mists that wrapped the
mountain's base."

After a perilous ascent where nerve, sure-footedness, and quick
judgment were needed every moment, they finally reached the summit of
the mountain. "One at a time--the other two securely anchored--we
crawled with the utmost caution to the actual highest point (an
immense snow cornice) and peeped over the edge of the huge,
overhanging crest, down the sheer wall to a great shining glacier 6000
feet or more below.... Perched high upon our isolated pinnacle, fully
1500 feet above the loftiest peak for many miles around, below us lay
unfolded range after range of brown-grey mountains, patched with snow
and some times glacier hung, intersected by deep chasms or broader
wooded valleys. A dozen lakes were counted, nestling between the
outlying ridges of our peak, which supply the headwaters of three
rivers--the Cross, the Simpson and the Spray."

After resting on the summit, it was decided to descend by another
and even more difficult route--one in fact that had hitherto been
thought impossible. Outram had studied it from below, however, and was
confident that it could be negotiated.

"Well roped," he writes, "and moving generally one at a time, we
clambered downward foot by foot, now balancing upon the narrow ledge,
5000 feet of space at our right hand; then scrambling down a broken
wall-end, the rocks so friable that handhold after handhold had to be
abandoned, and often half a dozen tested before a safe one could be
found; now, when the ridge became too jagged or too sheer, making our
cautious way along a tiny ledge or down the face itself, clinging to
the cold buttresses, our fingers tightly clutching the scant
projection of some icy knob, or digging into small interstices between
the rocks; anon, an ice-slope had to be negotiated with laborious
cutting of steps in the hard wall-like surface; and again, cliff after
cliff must be reconnoitred, its slippery upper rim traversed until a
cleft was found and a gymnastic descent effected to the ice-bound
declivity that fell away beneath its base.

"For close upon 2000 feet the utmost skill and care were imperative at
every step; for scarcely half a dozen could be taken in that distance
where an unroped man who slipped would not inevitably have followed
the rejected handholds and débris, that hurtled down in leaps and
bounds to crash in fragments on the rocks and boulders far below."

Beside this daring climb down the steep north arête of Assiniboine may
be placed an even more perilous incident of the descent of Mount Bryce
the following year. Outram had made the ascent with the Swiss guide
Christian Kaufmann, taking eleven hours to reach the summit. With a
long and difficult climb down the mountain in prospect, and a
particularly dangerous cliff to be negotiated, which had been
troublesome enough on the way up and would be much more dangerous now,
they spent very little time on the summit.

"It was almost dark," says Outram, "when we approached the well
remembered cliff, which had been continually on our minds, and to
reach which before nightfall had been the object of our hasty,
foodless march. But we arrived too late. And now the question arose as
to the wisest course to take. We were on the horns of a dilemma. To go
on meant descending practically in the dark a cliff which we had
deemed so difficult by daylight as almost to be deterred from
undertaking it at all. But on the other hand, a night out 10,000 feet
above the sea, without the smallest vestige of shelter, on the exposed
sky-line of a ridge swept by an arctic wind, with boots and stockings
saturated and certain to freeze (and possibly the feet inside as well)
before the dawn could aid us on our way, and almost destitute of food,
offered a prospect particularly uninviting. I left the decision to
Kaufmann. The risk was practically his alone. For me, descending first
with the good rope in his trusty grasp, there was no danger, even
should I slip or fail to find a hold, except for the short distance
where both would be upon the face at the same time. For him, a slip, a
lost grip or a broken hold might mean destruction. But he voted for
advance, and at any rate I could make a trial and report upon my
personal sensations before his turn arrived. So I turned my face
towards the rock, slipped over the edge, and entered on the fateful
climb.

"It will be long before I lose the recollection of those seventy feet
of cliff. Drawn out for one long hour of concentrated tension were the
successive experiences of hopeless groping in the dark depths for
something to rest a foot upon, of blind search all over the chilled
rocky surface for a knob or tiny crack where the numbed fingers might
find another hold, of agonizing doubt as to their stability when
found, of eerie thrill and sickening sensation when the long-sought
support crumbled beneath the stress and hurtled downward into the
blackness of space, whilst the hollow reverberations of its fall
re-echoed through the silence. Then the strain of waiting on the best,
but very questionable, protuberances for several tense minutes of
motionless suspense, whilst the exigencies of the rope compelled
Christian to climb down fifteen or twenty feet, and I could move
again. At long last came the marvellous relief of feeling solid and
sufficient standing-room once more, followed by the still more trying
period of inactivity, the patient intensity of watching and hauling in
the slack as the rope came slowly and spasmodically down, telling of
Christian's gradual descent, the strained anxiety lest any accident
should happen to my comrade, and, finally, the thankfulness of seeing
his figure looming close above and in a few moments standing by my
side, and we could breathe again."

[Illustration: MOUNT ASSINIBOINE. (_The Matterhorn of the Rockies_)
_Mary M. Vaux, W. S. Vaux, and G. Vaux, Jr._]

[Illustration: EMPEROR FALLS. _R. C. W. Lett_]

[Illustration: MOUNT EDITH. _A. Knechtel_]

[Illustration: TOWERS OF MOUNT BABEL. (_Consolation Valley_) _A. O.
Wheeler_]



V

INCOMPARABLE LAKE LOUISE


Thirty-five miles west of Banff on the Canadian Pacific Railway, and
still in the Rocky Mountains Park, is the village of Laggan. You may
make the journey by train or motor, in either case enjoying a
succession of magnificent views of mountain peaks on either side,
culminating in the majestic Mount Temple. From Laggan a tramway or a
somewhat dusty ride or drive of two or three miles up the mountain
side brings you to the Chalet, on the shores of Lake Louise; but if
you are wise you will take the woodland trail and walk. The trail
winds up through the woods, cool and fragrant, with wildflowers about
you on every side, charming glimpses of forest glades and mountain
torrents, and far above the æolian music of the breeze in the tree
tops. The trail ends at the Chalet, a rambling, picturesque, and
thoroughly comfortable hotel, crowded with tourists from the ends of
the earth. Your thoughts are not, however, of hotel or tourists as you
look beyond the trees, and get your first vivid impression of what is
probably the most perfect bit of scenery in the known world. A lake of
the deepest and most exquisite colouring, ever changing, defying
analysis, mirroring in its wonderful depths the sombre forests and
cliffs that rise from its shores on either side, the gleaming white
glacier and tremendous, snow-crowned peaks that fill the background of
the picture, and the blue sky and fleecy cloud overhead. Year after
year you may revisit Lake Louise, and wander about its shores through
all kinds of weather; you will never exhaust the variety of its
charms. It changes from day to day, from hour to hour, from moment to
moment. It responds instantly to every subtle change of cloud, wind or
atmosphere; it has one glory of the sunrise and another of sunset; it
offers you one picture under the brilliant noonday sun, another under
heavy clouds, another through driving mists, or rain, or snow; but
always incomparably beautiful, and always indescribable.

Let us see how it has appealed to different men, who have visited it
at different times and under varied conditions. As long ago as 1888
William Spotswood Green, of the British Alpine Club, climbed up
to the shores of Lake Louise on his way back from a season's
mountain-climbing in the Selkirks. "I was," he says, "quite
unprepared for the full beauty of the scene. Nothing of the kind could
possibly surpass it. I was somewhat reminded of the Oeschinen See in
Switzerland, but Lake Louise is about twice as long, the forests
surrounding it are far richer, and the grouping of the mountains is
simply perfection."

"Lake Louise," says Walter Dwight Wilcox, "is a realisation of the
perfect beauty of nature beyond the power of imagination."

Sir James Outram quotes the final verdict of one whom he describes as
"a close observer of nature and enthusiastic lover of the
picturesque," to this effect: "I have travelled in almost every
country under heaven, yet I have never seen so perfect a picture in
the vast gallery of Nature's masterpieces." And Outram himself writes:

"As a gem of composition and of colouring it is perhaps unrivalled
anywhere. To those who have not seen it words must fail to conjure up
the glories of that 'Haunted Lake among the pine-clad mountains,
forever smiling upward to the skies.' A master's hand indeed has
painted all its beauties; the turquoise surface, quivering with
fleeting ripples, beyond the flower-strewn sweep of grassy shore; the
darkening mass of tapering spruce and pine trees, mantling heavily
the swiftly rising slopes that culminate in rugged steeps and beetling
precipices, soaring aloft into the sun-kissed air on either side; and
there, beyond the painted portals of the narrowing valley, rich with
the hues of royal purple and of sunset reds, the enraptured gaze is
lifted to a climax of superb effects, and the black walls of Mount
Lefroy, surrounded by their dazzling canopy of hanging glaciers, and
the wide gable-sweep of Mount Victoria, resplendent with its spotless
covering of eternal snow, crown the matchless scene. The azure dome of
heaven, flecked with bright, fleecy clouds like angel's wings,
completes the picture."

Tom Wilson seems to have been the first white man to visit the shores
of Lake Louise. At least his is the first visit of which there is any
record. According to Wilcox, he camped with a pack train near the
mouth of the Pipestone in 1882, when some Stony Indians came along and
placed their tepees near him. "Not long after, a heavy snow-slide or
avalanche was heard among the mountains to the south, and in reply to
inquiry one of the Indians named Edwin, the Gold Seeker, said that the
thunder came from a 'big snow mountain above the lake of little
fishes'. The next day Wilson and Edwin rode through the forests to
the lake of little fishes, which was named subsequently for the
Princess Louise," then in Canada as the wife of the Governor General,
the late Duke of Argyll.

Professor A. P. Coleman, of Toronto University, who has spent many
summers in the Canadian Rockies, and to whom we are indebted for one
of the most comprehensive and entertaining narratives of exploration
in this fascinating field, visited Lake Louise two years after Tom
Wilson. "I scrambled along its shores," he says, "then unnamed and
without marks of human habitation where the comfortable chalet now
rises." Many of us would give a good deal to treasure in our memory a
picture of Lake Louise sans chalet and sans tourists.

About a quarter of a century ago the Canadian Pacific Railway built an
unpretentious log inn on the shores of the lake, with accommodation
for a few guests. This was destroyed by fire in 1893. It was rebuilt
the following year, and has been repeatedly enlarged to meet the
demands of an ever-growing stream of tourists, the last addition
costing somewhere in the neighbourhood of half a million dollars. The
railway has also provided a good road and trail from Laggan up to the
Chalet, and opened several trails to points of interest about the
lake. These have since been improved and extended in every direction
by the Canadian government.

It is doubtful if any other spot in the mountains accommodates itself
so generously to all tastes and capacities as does Lake Louise. If you
are hopelessly indolent, you may stroll down to the shore, over a
carpet of wildflowers, and lazily enjoy the matchless picture of
Lefroy and Victoria with the gem of a lake in the foreground. Or a
half-mile's walk along the excellent trail that skirts the right-hand
side of the lake will prove a revelation of ever-changing and always
superb views. The walk may be extended to the farther end of the lake,
and back by the other side where the path climbs along the steep slope
of Fairview Mountain. An alternative trip, and a particularly
delightful one in the early morning or the evening twilight, is to
take one of the boats at the Chalet and row to the end of the lake and
back. The distance is extraordinarily deceptive. It looks but a
stone's-throw, yet when you have rowed three-quarters of a mile you
find that you are not much more than half-way. You look up on either
side to the towering cliffs, and feel like a water beetle in the
bottom of a gigantic cup. And what a wonderful liquid is contained in
this cup; so clear that you grow dizzy as you gaze down and down into
its unfathomable depths, and so marvellously steeped in colour that it
is impossible to believe as you dip into it that your hand will not
come up the same deep turquoise.

From the end of the lake a trail leads to the foot of Victoria
Glacier, opening up an ever-changing panorama of dazzling snow-fields
and terrific precipices. This way lies the road of the experienced
mountaineers who with skill and daring win their way to the summits of
these giants far up amid the clouds. It was by this road and the
Lefroy Glacier that Wilcox some years ago unexpectedly discovered
Paradise Valley.

A good trail now leads from the Chalet around Saddle Mountain to
Paradise Valley, but one of the finest views of the valley with dainty
Lake Annette and the gigantic guardian peaks that tower above, Temple,
Aberdeen, Sheol and the Mitre, can be obtained from Saddle Mountain,
reached by an easy trail. One does not readily forget the exquisite
view that rewards the climber as he reaches the summit of the Saddle
and stands on the edge of a thousand-foot precipice that drops sheer
to the valley, and yet seems insignificant when the eye goes up and up
to the glittering peak of Temple Mountain soaring thousands of feet
above. The very contrast of the frowning walls that shut it in on
every side lends an additional charm to the fairyland that lies at
their feet, a perfect picture of green meadows, blue lake and silvery
streams, most appropriately named Paradise Valley.

From the Saddle a zigzag trail leads to the summit of Fairview
Mountain, from which one may look down upon Lake Louise whose
ever-shifting shades of blue and green seem even deeper and richer
than seen from the shore.

From the Chalet again a ride or climb up the trail that branches off
on the right-hand side of the lake brings one to Mirror Lake and Lake
Agnes. The distance to the former is about two miles, and a little
more to Lake Agnes. Mirror Lake lies at the foot of a curious rock
called the Beehive, and Lake Agnes is reached by a short climb up the
slope of the mountain. The lakes themselves are well worth the climb,
but one is rewarded as well with entirely new views of the encircling
peaks, and tramps through a bewildering garden of Alpine flowers among
which one finds the antennaria and bryanthus, which so curiously
resemble edelweiss and purple heather.

A short distance north of Lake Agnes is the Little Beehive, a mere
knob on the mountain, from which, however, a magnificent view is
obtained of a far-flung panorama of tremendous, snow-clad mountains,
blue lakes, green forest slopes and sparkling glaciers. "I have
never," says Wilcox, "seen this glorious ensemble of forests, lakes
and snow fields surpassed in an experience on the summits of more than
forty peaks and the middle slopes of as many more in the Canadian
Rockies." And, as he adds, the viewpoint is accessible to even the
most indifferent climbers, or may be managed on horseback.

From the Chalet, also, a trail of ten miles leads to the Valley of the
Ten Peaks and Moraine Lake, or the valley may be reached by a carriage
road which extends to the foot of the lake. Another trail runs from
Moraine Lake around an imposing cliff known as the Tower of Babel to
Consolation Valley, and still another leads in the opposite direction
to Wenkchemna Glacier.

A somewhat longer expedition from Lake Louise is by trail west to the
height of land at Stephen, then down the picturesque Valley of the
Kicking Horse, and up Cataract Creek on the western side of Mount
Victoria, to Lake O'Hara. This, however, takes one into Yoho Park, of
which something will be said in the next chapter.

[Illustration: PARADISE VALLEY. (_From the Saddleback_) _Canadian
Pacific Railway Company_]

[Illustration: GIANT STEPS. (_Head of Paradise Valley_) _Canadian
Pacific Railway Company_]

[Illustration: LAKE LOUISE. _G. and W. Fear_]

[Illustration: MORAINE LAKE. _Mary M. Vaux, W. S. Vaux, and G.
Vaux, Jr._]



VI

THE VALLEY OF THE YOHO


Travelling west on the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway, we
cross the continental divide at or near Stephen. The actual summit is
marked by a rustic arch. From the steep mountainside comes a little
stream which branches above; the two branches flow through the arch
and then separate, one bound for the Pacific the other for the
Atlantic.

This arch marks not only the height of land but also the boundary
between Rocky Mountains Park and Yoho Park, the former in the Province
of Alberta, the latter in British Columbia. An hour's run brings us to
the headquarters of Yoho Park at Field, with Mount Stephen's massive
dome far above, six thousand four hundred feet from where we stand.

With Field as a starting-point we can reach by road or trail all the
principal points of interest in the park, the Kicking Horse Canyon and
the Natural Bridge, Mount Stephen and the famous fossil beds, Emerald
Lake, the Amiskwi Valley, Lake O'Hara, Lake Oesa and Lake McArthur,
and the wonderful valley from which the park takes its name, with its
exquisitely beautiful waterfalls.

At Field, as at Banff in Rocky Mountains Park and Glacier in Glacier
Park, a number of Swiss guides are stationed throughout the season,
for the benefit of those who enjoy the pleasures of mountain-climbing.
Mount Stephen, on account of its accessibility and the magnificent
views that reward the mountaineer, is the most climbed peak in the
Canadian Rockies. Unlike some of its huge neighbours, such as
Cathedral Mountain, Lefroy, Deltaform, Hungabee and Goodsir, it is
within the capacity of any reasonably energetic man or woman, with or
without experience in mountain-climbing, provided one has the
assistance of a competent guide.

In the autumn of 1904 Mount Stephen was climbed under conditions that
could not be recommended to any but the most expert and clearheaded of
mountain-climbers. Rev. George Kinney was then at Field, and had gone
for a solitary ramble to the fossil beds on Mount Stephen. After
several hours spent in gathering trilobites he ate his lunch, and then
the desire seized him to get some pictures from the summit of the
mountain. Shouldering his two cameras he set out to climb the peak.

"It only took a few minutes," he says, "to climb to the top of the
spur immediately above the fossil bed and to get above the last of the
struggling timber growth, when there burst into view a scene that
beggars description: Cathedral Mountain, its perpendicular heights
searching the very heavens, formed one unbroken wall of a vast
amphitheatre. There, ridge on ridge, tier on tier, the parallel
ledges, cushioned with snow, rose in countless numbers for thousands
of feet. In such places as these the spirits of the mountain sit and
watch the changing scenes of the hills in the vast arena before them.
Sometimes it is a procession of sheep, or goats, or deer, or bear, or
the eagle gracefully sailing. Sometimes it is the frisking mountain
rat, or the whistling marmot, or the busy haymaker curing his crops of
hay on the hot rocks of the slide. Or again it is the grand orchestra
of the hills, breaking forth in the roar of the avalanche, the scream
of the wind, the fall of the cataract, or the crumbling of the peaks.

"For a mile or more it was easy going over a gentle slope covered with
rocks and snow. The clouds had gradually broken up before the genial
warmth of the sun, and the Kicking Horse River seemed a little thread
of silver that wound, with countless twists and turns, in a level
valley below. Field, with its roundhouses and trains and big hotel
seemed but a little dot, and when an engine whistled a thousand echoes
tossed the sound from side to side, from peak to peak, from canyon to
canyon, until it was lost in immensity.

"The climb was uneventful up to the time the cliffs near the top were
reached. It had been a fairly easy slope all the way. The snow began
at timber line, and was hard enough to walk on its top. Mount Dennis
was slowly left behind and sank to a mere hillock beneath. Mounts
Field and Burgess gradually slipped down until Wapta and then the
Vice-President, with an emerald glacier in its lap, came in full view
from behind.

"By making a detour I could have found an easier way, but, having no
guide and never having been there before, I began to climb the wall of
rock immediately in front. It was a most difficult climb. The short
day was nearly ended, the warmth of the sun had given place to a raw,
cold wind, and my pack being large and heavy got in the way. Nearing
the top of this almost vertical cliff my numb fingers slipped and I
barely escaped a sheer fall of fully one hundred feet. Surmounting the
cliff, it proved but a vanguard of many. Height on height of barefaced
cliffs offered their resistance in succession, each crowned with
snow-covered ledges. Gradually, however, they were vanquished, one by
one, and at last I stood on the glory-crowned summit, ten thousand
five hundred feet above the sea.

"Mounts Field, Burgess and Wapta lay far beneath. President and
Vice-President gleamed and glistened in the near distance. Cathedral
Mountain, close by, seemed almost on a level. Here, there, everywhere,
some in groups, others in serried ranks, were massed the war-scarred
veterans of an innumerable host--the rugged remnants of a vast ancient
plateau stretching north, southeast and west, as far as the eye could
see. All this vast array of snow-clad peaks, frowning precipices,
glistening glaciers, and yawning gulfs was burnished with the glowing
hues of the setting sun. I watched him sink behind the distant fringe
of peaks in the west, and when he was gone how lonely and chill those
sombre old masses seemed. I shouted aloud, but my voice was
immediately swallowed up in that awful stillness, for there was
nothing to give it an echo.

"I did not stay long on the summit, for the raw, cold winds that had
frozen the snow in crystals several inches long chilled one to the
bone. The darkness of night began to swallow up the distant hills, and
it was necessary to get down the cliffs while there was still light to
see the way. I had gone but a short distance when, following a ledge
around more to the south, I made a grand discovery. There, filling a
steep, rugged ravine that seemed to extend all the way to Cathedral
Mountain was a smooth pathway of snow, steep as the roof of a house.
One question flashed to my mind: would it be frozen too hard? I
cautiously tried it. Yes! it was hard, but with care it could be
travelled. By launching out freely and letting the whole weight come
down on each foot at a time, the heels could be forced a couple of
inches into the solid snow. Here, indeed, was the best kind of speedy
going: swing out one foot, spring from the other, and land on the heel
in an inch or two of snow. Each stride covered a distance of several
feet, and it was possible to run down that steep precipice of snow as
fast as I liked, but my life depended on each heel getting that little
two inches of a hold; one slip would mean a fearful slide to death.
There was no danger of crevices, for it was all new snow.

"In an amazingly short time a descent of hundreds of feet had been
made, until finally the bottom of the cliffs was reached. Then I
started across and down that long, tedious slope of snow and
boulders." Finally he regained the fossil beds, picked up his
belongings, and made his way back to Field in the dark.

To climb Mount Stephen alone, and in October, is a feat that would be
considered foolhardy by any mountaineer less capable and sure-headed
than George Kinney. Mr. Kinney has since proved his mettle on a much
more formidable climb, to the summit of the monarch of the Canadian
Rockies, Mount Robson. This, however, will stand for a later chapter.

The road from Stephen, or Hector, down to Field is an exceedingly
interesting one, and worth taking in as leisurely a manner as
possible, on an easy-going pony, or better still on foot. Leaving
Hector, the road skirts the shores of Wapta Lake, whose waters are of
the deepest blue; Cataract Creek trail here leads off to the south, to
Lake O'Hara about eight miles distant beyond the great white peak of
Mount Victoria; the Cathedral Crags lie directly ahead to the west,
and beneath winds the wildly impressive Canyon of the Kicking Horse.
As the road drops rapidly down the valley, one is lost in amazement
at the temerity of the engineers who dared to carry a railway through
this seemingly impossible gorge, with its gradient of nearly 200 feet
in the mile. As we leave the Canyon behind, Mount Stephen fills the
view ahead, with Field and Wapta to the right, and the beautiful Yoho
Valley opening up to the north, where the Wapta icefield and Mount
Habel are visible in the distance.

One of the most delightful expeditions in Yoho Park is that to Lake
O'Hara and Lake McArthur. These may be reached either from Laggan in
Rocky Mountains Park, or from Field in the Yoho. Outram recommends
that if at all possible the approach should be made from Laggan and
Lake Louise, by way of Abbot Pass, using the easier but less
picturesque Cataract trail for the return journey. This makes a
somewhat strenuous trip for those who may not be accustomed to
climbing, but otherwise is thoroughly worth the extra effort. The way
leads around Lake Louise, and over the Victoria Glacier to Abbot Pass,
with the tremendous precipices of Lefroy and Victoria frowning down on
either side. From the glacier the way to the pass is up a steep,
narrow gorge known as the Death Trap on account of the numerous
avalanches that hurtle down from the mountain tops. The danger,
however, is more apparent than real, and nothing has ever happened to
justify the sinister name.

From the summit of the pass the view is one of indescribable grandeur,
a wilderness of gigantic cliffs far and near, stretching up and up to
glittering summits. Scrambling down the steep descent, Lake Oesa comes
into view far below, at the foot of Mount Yukness. Oesa is an Indian
word meaning Ice, and the lake has been appropriately named as, on
account of its elevation, it is frozen over throughout the greater
part of the year and never quite free from ice. A climb down ledges
and talus slopes brings one to the little lake, and from here the
first glimpse is caught of the exquisitely beautiful Lake O'Hara in
the valley far below. As one gets nearer, the loveliness of this
secluded lake grows, and is all the more compelling because of the
absolute stillness, no chalet or carriages or boats or human
interlopers other than ourselves. The colouring is as perfect, as
varied and as utterly beyond description as that of Lake Louise. The
lake is an Alpine gem, in whose bright surface are reflected the green
of the forest that surrounds its shores, and the mountains that
enclose it on either side, the huge bulk of Mount Schaffer and the
curious pinnacles of the Wiwaxy Peaks. A couple of miles to the
southwest, and reached by a good trail, is Lake McArthur, another
mountain tarn only a little less charming than Lake O'Hara.

If one has only a limited time to spend in the Park, however,
unquestionably it should be devoted to the Yoho Valley, on the north
side of the railway. Several good roads and trails now lead to the
valley from Field, by way of Emerald Lake, Burgess Pass and the Yoho
River, so that the visitor has a choice of routes, and is assured of
many enchanting views both going and coming.

The valley was explored as long ago as 1897 by Jean Habel, a famous
German mountaineer, who spent seventeen days there and returned with
such enthusiastic accounts of mountains, lakes and wonderful
waterfalls that it was determined to make the valley accessible to
tourists. A trail was commenced by the Canadian Pacific Railway in
1900, and since the organisation of the district into a national park
this first attempt has been extended into a system of roads and trails
giving access to every part of the valley. A delightful drive through
"aisles of stately firs," and over a good wagon road, brings one to
Emerald Lake, where the Railway Company, with its customary
thoughtfulness, has provided a comfortable and picturesque chalet,
situated on a wooded promontory. The lake, says Outram, is a "gem of
perfect beauty, its colouring marvellously rich and vivid, and
constantly changing under the shifting lights and shades." In its
surface are mirrored the ramparts and precipices of Mount Wapta and
Mount Burgess and the snowy glaciers of President Mountain.

From Emerald Lake, the road winds up the valley, with ever changing
views of the mighty peaks on either side. We are waiting, however, for
our first glimpse of the glory of the valley, Takakkaw Falls,
remembering the meaning of the Indian name, "It is wonderful!"
Presently we come out of the forest, the falls are before us across
the valley, and we can do nothing but echo the exclamation of the
Indians. To borrow again from Sir James Outram, "the torrent issuing
from an icy cavern rushes tempestuously down a deep, winding chasm
till it gains the verge of the unbroken cliff, leaps forth in sudden
wildness for a hundred and fifty feet, and then in a stupendous column
of pure white sparkling water, broken by giant jets descending
rocket-like and wreathed in volumed spray, dashes upon the rocks
almost a thousand feet below, and breaking into a milky series of
cascading rushes for five hundred feet more, swirls into the swift
current of the Yoho River."

Farther up the valley we come to the less imposing but even more
picturesque Twin Falls, and the appropriately named Laughing Fall,
where the Upper Yoho leaps down the mountain side. It is impossible to
give more than a mere impression of the charms of this delightful
valley. It would indeed be difficult to find anywhere else a more
perfect grouping of the elements of Rocky Mountain scenery, great
peaks and glaciers, stately forests and meadows carpeted with
wildflowers, rushing streams, lakes of the most exquisite colouring,
and a group of waterfalls as varied in character as they are all
strikingly beautiful.

[Illustration: TAKAKKAW FALLS. (_Yoho Valley_) _Mary M. Vaux, W. S.
Vaux, and G. Vaux, Jr._]

[Illustration: LAKE O'HARA. (_Yoho Park_)_Mary M. Vaux, W. S. Vaux,
and G. Vaux, Jr._]

[Illustration: TWIN FALLS. (_Yoho Valley_) _Mary M. Vaux, W. S. Vaux,
and G. Vaux, Jr._]



VII

AROUND THE ILLECILLEWAET


As we leave Field behind, and slide rapidly down the western slope of
the Rockies to the Columbia valley, revelling in the ever-changing
panorama of stately peaks, and enjoying it all from a comfortable
arm-chair in the observation car, it is interesting to recall the very
different journey of Sir Sandford Fleming in 1883. He had been the
chief engineer of the Canadian Pacific Railway surveys from 1871 to
1880, and had strongly advocated the Yellowhead Pass route through the
mountains in preference to the Kicking Horse Pass. His judgment has
since been vindicated by the selection of the former route by both the
new Canadian transcontinental roads, the Grand Trunk Pacific and the
Canadian Northern.

When the Canadian Pacific Railway was taken over from the Dominion
Government by a syndicate, it was decided to build through the Kicking
Horse. In 1883 the rails had been laid as far as Calgary, at the
eastern entrance to the mountains, actually before there was any
certainty that it would be possible to get through by the southern
route. The Kicking Horse Pass was believed to be feasible though
presenting many serious engineering difficulties, but that only took
them through the main range. There were still the Selkirks and the
Gold Range to cross, before they could reach Kamloops on the North
Thompson River, beyond which the route had been selected and the rails
partly laid; but all the information the Company then had was a vague
report that a route might be found over the former by Rogers Pass and
over the latter by Eagle Pass. Very little was known of either.

The directors of the Company were between the horns of a dilemma. If
they went ahead, they might find themselves stranded on the east side
of the Selkirks. On the other hand, to abandon the route would mean
the loss of millions of dollars already expended in bringing the rails
to Calgary. In their difficulty they sent for Fleming, and asked him
to go over the ground between Calgary and Kamloops and let them know
if the railway could be taken through the three ranges, the Rockies,
Selkirks and Gold Range. One can imagine the famous engineer
chuckling over the situation. He had recommended the Yellowhead route;
his advice had been rejected; and now the advocates of the rival
Kicking Horse route were compelled to fall back upon him, to beg him
of all men to demonstrate the practicability of the southern route. He
accepted the commission, went over the route thoroughly, and was able
to report that the railway could be taken through from Calgary to
Kamloops. What he saw, however, was very far from shaking his former
opinion that the Yellowhead Pass route was preferable in every way to
that by the Kicking Horse.

This is merely introductory to a paragraph or two from Sir Sandford
Fleming's account of his journey through the mountains in
1883--something to ponder over as we rush down the same wild valley in
our luxurious observation car.

Fleming had left the railway at Calgary, and with ponies and
pack-horses had slowly forced his way to the summit of the main range,
and was now climbing down the valley of the Kicking Horse to the
Columbia. We pick him up one morning, somewhere about the western
boundary of what is now Yoho Park.

"The mist hangs like a thick curtain, concealing everything not
directly near the camp-fire. But we start; the six pack-horses in front
with their loads standing out from their backs, giving the creatures
the appearance of so many dromedaries. Dave rides ahead with the
bell-horse, then the pack-horses follow, and the horsemen bring up the
rear to see that none stray behind. Our journey this day is over
exceedingly rough ground. We have to cross gorges so narrow that a
biscuit might be thrown from the last horse descending to the
bell-horse six hundred feet ahead, ascending the opposite side.

"The fires have been running through the wood and are still burning;
many of the half-burnt trees have been blown down by last night's
gale, obstructing the trail and making advance extremely difficult....
Fortunately there is no wind. The air is still and quiet, otherwise we
would run the risk of blackened trunks falling around us, possibly
upon the animals or ourselves, even at the best seriously to have
impeded our progress, if such a mischance did not make an advance
impossible until the wind should moderate.

"We move forward down and up gorges hundreds of feet deep, amongst
rocky masses where the poor horses have to clamber as best they can
amid sharp points and deep crevices, running the constant risk of a
broken leg. The trail now takes another character. A series of
precipices run sheer up from the boiling current to form a contracted
canyon. A path has therefore been traced along the hill side,
ascending to the elevation of some seven or eight hundred feet. For a
long distance not a vestige of vegetation is to be seen. On the steep
acclivity our line of advance is narrow, so narrow that there is
scarcely a foothold; nevertheless we have to follow for some six miles
this thread of trail, which seemed to us by no means in excess of the
requirements of the chamois and the mountain goat.

"We cross clay, rock and gravel slides at a giddy height. To look down
gives one an uncontrollable dizziness, to make the head swim and the
view unsteady, even with men of tried nerves. I do not think that I
can ever forget that terrible walk. We are from five to eight hundred
feet high on a path of from ten to fifteen inches wide and at some
points almost obliterated, with slopes above and below us so steep
that a stone would roll into the torrent in the abyss below."

A few miles more, and Fleming emerged from the valley of the Kicking
Horse and stood on the banks of the Columbia, with the mighty walls
of the Rockies and Selkirks towering above him to the east and to the
west. His way through the Selkirks was by the same route that we now
follow on the railway, and it brought him in time to the summit of
Rogers Pass, and the first sight of the since famous Illecillewaet
Glacier. As we follow in his footsteps, we find ourselves entering the
third great National Park of Canada--appropriately named Glacier Park,
for from any one of its great peaks one may count a score of these
wonderful ice rivers.

The Selkirk Range strikes even the unobservant traveller as markedly
different from the main range of the Rockies. The colouring of the
rocks is more varied and less sombre; the valleys are deeper and
clothed with dense forests of gigantic evergreens, cedar, spruce,
hemlock, Douglas fir, and up near the extreme limit of vegetation the
beautiful Lyall's larch; and the snowfall is very much heavier than in
the more easterly range. From its geographical position the Selkirk
Range intercepts a large percentage of the moisture borne inland from
the Pacific, which would otherwise reach the Rockies, and this with
the deep valleys has resulted in a vegetation that is almost tropical
in its luxuriance, and infinite in its variety, something over five
hundred different flowers alone having been discovered in Glacier
Park.

Geologists tell us that the Selkirks are very much older than the main
range, that in fact they were hoary with antiquity when as the result
of some vast convulsion of nature the Rockies were born. The
brilliantly coloured quartzites of the Selkirks belong to an age so
remote that the mere thought of it is enough to make one's head reel.
In their day they looked out to the eastward upon a great sea,
covering what are to-day vast fertile plains, and the sea washed over
the place where the giants of the Rockies now lift their snowy heads
proudly into the heavens.

Compared with Rocky Mountain Park, Glacier Park is a comparatively
small reservation, covering an area of 468 square miles, but any one
capable of appreciating the glories of mountain scenery, the great
valleys with their picturesque torrents and waterfalls and riotous
vegetation; the upper slopes with their bewildering array of alpine
flowers, dryas, anemones and mountain lilies, red and white heather,
glowing masses of painter's-brush, yellow and purple asters, blue
gentians and yellow columbines, delicate moss campion and the dear
little forget-me-not; the dizzy precipices and dazzling glaciers; and
the conquered summits with their glorious outlook over a world of
indescribable wildness and grandeur,--will find here a region of
perpetual delight, where he may roam afield for weeks each day on an
entirely new trail.

Although the park as a park did not exist until long after his visit,
and good roads and trails now take the place of the rough paths he had
to follow, William Spotswood Green's _Among the Selkirk Glaciers_, is
still the most satisfactory and entertaining introduction that one can
find, or wish for, to this mountain playground. Green came to the
Selkirks in 1888, after years of delightful experience in the Alps and
the great mountains of New Zealand. He left with the conviction that
he had seen nothing elsewhere more impressive or more fascinating than
these mountains of British Columbia. "Dark green forest, rushing
streams, purple peaks, silvery ice, a cloudless sky, and a most
transparent atmosphere," he says, "all combine to form a perfect
Alpine paradise."

One of his first visits was to the Illecillewaet Glacier, which then
entailed a slow and more or less painful scramble through a wilderness
of fallen timber, tangled thickets of alder scrub, and the
appropriately named devil's club. To-day one reaches the foot of the
glacier by way of a delightful and well-kept trail through the forest,
the trail starting from the doors of Glacier House, the large and
comfortable hotel maintained by the Canadian Pacific Railway at the
headquarters of the park.

On the way he had an opportunity of observing the tremendous
destructive power of avalanches. "The hemlock, balsam, and Douglas
firs, though as stout as ships' masts, had been snapped off close to
their roots; some were torn up and driven long distances from where
they grew, and lay in heaps, but the general position of the trunks
pointed distinctly to the direction from which the destroying
avalanche had come. Even the boulders of the moraine showed signs of
having been shifted, some of them huge blocks of quartzite, one I
measured 50 X 33 X 24 feet. No better illustration could be presented
of the overwhelming power of an avalanche, though composed of nothing
else than the accumulation of a winter's snow."

On this or another expedition, Green was introduced to the
idiosyncrasies of the Indian pony or cayuse. One had been taken as a
pack horse, and picked his way demurely along the trail for some time,
with that air of meek innocence which always imposes upon the
tenderfoot. Suddenly, without a moment's warning, and for no apparent
reason, he was "seized with a paroxysm of buck-jumping; the packs flew
off, he rolled down through the ferns and rocks, and then, perfectly
satisfied with his performance, stood patiently while we restored our
goods on his back." The incident will bring back many similar
experiences to those who have camped in the Rocky Mountains. One is
almost tempted to chuckle over Green's bewilderment. It is generally
found that there is reason in the pony's madness. When he runs
unexpectedly into a hornet's nest, the most natural thing in the world
is to get away from it as quickly as possible, and as a rule the
quickest way is to roll down hill.

Exasperating as the cayuse can be on many occasions, no one who has
any sense of humour or any appreciation of animal intelligence can
fail in time to grow very fond of a horse that has been his companion
on many wild mountain trails, that has carried him safely through
raging torrents, and sometimes shared his meal beside the camp fire. A
good pony will follow unerringly a trail that is indistinguishable to
even an experienced guide; he will carry an able-bodied man, or a much
heavier pack, all day over a trail that would kill an eastern horse;
he will pick his way through a tangle of fallen timber with an
instinct that is almost uncanny; and he will do all this on the
uncertain feed of mountain camps. He is a true philosopher, a creature
of shrewd common sense, pluck, endurance, and rare humour, a good
fellow, and a rare friend.

Green made the first attempt to scale Mount Sir Donald, the splendid
peak that almost overshadows Glacier House. He selected what proved to
be an impracticable route, and was forced to return without reaching
the summit. The mountain has since been repeatedly climbed, and is now
with Mount Stephen in the Rockies the most popular peak for
mountain-climbers in the Canadian parks. Thanks to the Swiss guides
who are stationed here throughout the season, any one of reasonable
endurance and with a head for dizzy heights or depths, can now make
his way to the summit of Sir Donald, 10,808 feet above the sea, and be
rewarded with a view that will more than compensate him for the
fatigue.

Although mountain-climbing in the Canadian Rockies has been singularly
free from accidents, there have of course occasionally been narrow
escapes, and one of these is graphically described in _Among the
Selkirk Glaciers_. Green and a companion had climbed to the summit of
Mount Bonney, a great peak some miles west of Sir Donald, and were
returning, when they made the usual mistake of trying a short cut to
avoid a tedious piece of climbing. There seemed to be a way down a
very steep snow slope, and Green went ahead on the rope to test it,
while his companion anchored himself as firmly as possible in the snow
above. They were of course "roped" in the usual mountaineering
fashion.

"I turned my face to the slope," says Green, "and holding on to the
rope kicked my toes in and went over the brink. I took the precaution,
too, of burying my axe up to its head at every step. Just below the
brink there was a projecting crag. This I thought would give a firm
footing before testing the snow slope. I got one foot on to it and was
taking it as gently as possible when the rock gave way, a large piece
of snow went with it and fell on the slope twenty feet below.

"I stuck my knees into the snow, but felt my whole weight was on the
rope. Then I heard a swishing noise in the air, and glancing downwards
saw that the whole snow slope had cracked across and was starting away
down towards the valley in one huge avalanche. H. hauled cautiously
but firmly on the rope, and getting what grip I could with toes, knees
and ice-axe I was quickly in a safe position, and the two of us
standing side by side watched the clouds of snow filling the abyss
below and the huge masses bounding outwards. We listened to the sullen
roar which gradually subsided and all again was quiet."

It was probably this same stout rope by which Green pulled himself
back to safety, of which he elsewhere gives the history, quite an
eventful one, though sadly ignoble in its latter days. "Its first good
work was to save the lives of some of our party in a bad slip, near
the summit of the Balmhorn on the Bernese Overland. It was next used
as the mizzen topping-lift of a fifteen-ton yawl. It was my tent-rope
in the New Zealand Alps. It was the bridle used on a deep-sea trawl
that went down to 1000 fathoms beneath the surface of the Atlantic. It
trained a colt. Now it was in our diamond hitch; and I regret to say
that its old age was disgraced by its being used for cording one of my
boxes on the voyage home."

Compared with Rocky Mountains Park and Yoho Park, Glacier Park at
present is somewhat deficient in roads and trails, those that have
been opened all radiating from headquarters and extending not more
than six or eight miles in any direction. This, however, will be
remedied in a few years, the park being still very young, and in the
meantime it is not an unmixed evil to those who care to get off the
beaten track. Old Indian trails follow all the rivers and creeks
throughout the park, and though these will be more or less obliterated
and blocked with fallen timber, a competent guide can always be relied
upon to take you to any corner of the park, and when you have found a
good camping ground, with feed for the horses, a sparkling stream at
your feet, and a circle of noble peaks smiling down upon you, you
will, if you are the right sort, thank your stars that railways and
hotels and roads lie far away in another world beyond the mountains.
To really enjoy this sensation of out-of-the-worldness, however, you
must have brought with you a sufficient supply of worldly eatables.

Of the available trails, one leads up to Rogers Pass, at the summit of
the Selkirks, with Mount Macdonald on one side and Mount Tupper on the
other. These two great peaks were named after the famous Canadian
statesmen, Sir John Macdonald and Sir Charles Tupper. The latter,
after watching the growth of Canada from a group of weak and scattered
colonies to a strong and ambitious Dominion, is still alive in England
in his ninety-third year.

In the opposite direction, good trails lead to the Illecillewaet
Glacier, and to Asulkan Pass and the Asulkan Glacier, from which it is
possible to reach a group of magnificent peaks, Castor and Pollux, The
Dome, Clarke, Swanzy, and a little farther to the west Bonney and
Smart. On the opposite side lies the vast Illecillewaet snow-field.

From Glacier House, again, a good carriage road takes you west
parallel with the railway and the Illecillewaet River, towards Cougar
Mountain and Ross Peak. Eventually this will be extended to the Nakimu
Caves. At present a trail follows the same route to the Caves, and
around Mount Cheops to Rogers Pass, thus providing a round trip, from
Glacier House to the Caves, thence to Rogers Pass, and back to Glacier
House again.

The Nakimu Caves were discovered accidentally some nine years ago, and
are said to be well worth visiting. They are in charge of C. H.
Deutschmann, who discovered and explored them, and thanks to his
competent guidance and the facilities that have been provided it is
now possible for any one to visit and examine this curious freak of
nature. It will be more convenient to describe the Caves in another
chapter.

Those who would really wish to know the character, extent and variety
of the scenery in Glacier Park and the great mountain range of which
it is only a small part, are recommended to consult A. O. Wheeler's
delightful guide-book, _The Selkirk Mountains_, and the same author's
exhaustive work published by the Dominion Government, _The Selkirk
Range_. These are not only readable and authoritative, but with the
exception of Green's _Among the Selkirk Glaciers_, they are the only
books available on this very important region.[3]

[3] Since the above was written Howard Palmer's _Mountaineering and
Exploration in the Selkirks_ has been published, making a very
important addition to the scanty literature on the subject.

[Illustration: MOUNT SIR DONALD AND ILLECILLEWAET GLACIER. _Mary M.
Vaux, W. S. Vaux, and G. Vaux, Jr._]

[Illustration: A BIT OF THE ILLECILLEWAET. _Canadian Pacific Railway
Company_]

[Illustration: THE HIGH FRONTIER OF BRITISH COLUMBIA. _A. Knechtel_]

[Illustration: ON THE SUMMIT OF SIR DONALD. _A. O. Wheeler_]



VIII

THE CAVES OF NAKIMU


The traveller who for the sake of contrast or variety desires to enjoy
a sensation as different as possible from the glorious panorama of
mountain and valley, lake and waterfall, rich in colouring, instinct
with the life-giving qualities of sun and air, cannot do better than
spend an afternoon in the Caves of Nakimu. It will be to him as though
he were transported from the domains of the Upper Gods to the gloomy
realm of Pluto. Under the guardianship of C. H. Deutschmann, the
official guide, whose cabin stands across a small ravine from the
visitor's camp, the caves may be explored with safety and a reasonable
degree of comfort. The facilities for getting about the caves and
underground passages is still rather primitive, but sufficient to
ensure the safety of visitors, and you have the advantage of seeing
everything in its natural state. One can appreciate the hardihood of
Deutschmann, who alone, and with nothing but tallow candles, explored
caves and potholes and corridors. As Mr. Wheeler has said, "Added to
the thick darkness, there was always the fierce, vibrating roar of
subterranean torrents, a sound most nerve-shaking in a position
sufficiently uncanny without it. Huge cracks had to be crossed and
precipitous descents made in pitch darkness, where a misstep meant
death or disablement."

The caves extend into the south slopes of Mount Ursus Major and Mount
Cheops and into the north slopes of Cougar Mountain. The rock out of
which the caves have been carved, by Nature's patient craftsmen, is
described as a "marbleized limestone, varying in colour from very dark
blue, almost black, shot with ribbons of calcite, through varying
shades of grey to almost white." There are no stalactites or
stalagmites worth mentioning.

The caves are in three sections, known as the Gopher Bridge, Mill
Bridge, and the Gorge. The following description is taken from Arthur
O. Wheeler's account of his survey in 1905.

The Gopher Bridge caves are approached by two openings, one known as
the Old Entrance, the other as the New Entrance. Mr. Wheeler used the
former in his visit, and took his observation by the light of gas
lamps and magnesium wire. Not far from the entrance he came to a
place where the passage dropped suddenly into space. "Standing on a
ledge that overhangs a black abyss," he says, "the eye is first drawn
by a subterranean waterfall heard roaring immediately on the left. It
appears to pour from a dark opening above it. Below, between black
walls of rock, may be seen the foam-flecked torrent hurtling down the
incline until lost in dense shadows. Overhead, fantastic spurs and
shapes reach out into the blackness, and the entire surroundings are
so weird and uncanny that it is easy to imagine Dante seated upon one
of these spurs deriving impressions for his Inferno. As the brilliant
light gives out, the thick darkness makes itself felt, and
instinctively you feel to see if Charon is not standing beside you.
This subterranean stream with its unearthly surroundings is suggestive
of the Styx and incidentally supplied the name Avernus for the cavern
of the waterfall." The Cavern of Avernus is reached by the New
Entrance, through a small passage.

Cougar Brook emerges from the Gopher Bridge caves 450 feet down the
valley, and after pouring down a rock-cut known as the Flume,
disappears into the Mill Bridge caves. The entrance is some thirty
feet to the east, through a cleft in the rock. A passageway of 400
feet leads to an irregularly shaped chamber known as the Auditorium,
through which Cougar Brook roars its way. "Faint daylight enters
through the passageway of the waters, making the place look dim and
mysterious." The passageway is broken at intervals by potholes, ten or
fifteen feet deep, necessitating a series of rough ladders, and in one
case a floating bridge as the pothole is half filled with water.

Emerging from the Mill Bridge caves, the brook runs for 300 feet
through a deep gorge spanned by two natural bridges, and then enters
the third series of caves. Creeping down a long passageway, with the
dull roar of the stream ever in your ears, you come to a sharp descent
of twelve feet with natural footholds, but persons unaccustomed to
climbing are advised to use a rope to steady the descent. "Here the
brook is heard far down rushing through some rock-cut with a dull
intermittent pounding like the blows of a giant sledge-hammer."

A passage to the right brings you to the Dropping Cave, with walls and
ceiling of dark blue limestone streaked with white calcite, and water
dropping everywhere from the roof. From the eastern end of this cave a
narrow passage leads to the Witch's Ball Room, a triangular cavern
whose floor is broken by deep cracks "leading down to where the
underground stream roars threateningly." Beyond this are several other
passages and smaller chambers, the farthest known as the Pit.

Another entrance to the Gorge caves, known as Entrance No. 3, leads
first to a small cavern, reached by a ladder from above. A very narrow
passage, which must be negotiated by means of a rope, brings you to a
ledge overlooking a sheer drop of sixty feet.

From one of the passages leading to the Pit, a cavern is reached,
named the Turbine, owing to the noise from waterspouts resembling the
sound of water falling into the pit of a turbine. Farther on is the
Art Gallery, so called from the "florescent designs of overlying
carbonate of lime, in colour from cream to delicate salmon."

Beyond the Art Gallery, a long passage brings you to a narrow twisted
opening named the Gimlet, and to two ancient potholes leading to
unknown depths, and "profusely ornamented with florescent
incrustation." One of these is named the Dome, from its perfect form.
A passage from the other leads to the Judgment Hall.

In this section of the Gorge Caves the subterranean river crosses the
main passage some depth below, and its roar is now heard from the
right side. A narrow opening leads to the Carbonate Grotto which has
some fine floral designs. Another passage of 130 feet brings you to a
crack in the wall, from which a descent of 57 feet leads to the
Judgment Hall mentioned before. This is the largest of the caves, 200
feet wide and from 40 to 50 feet high.

From the Judgment Hall, other passages lead to the White Grotto, so
named from the beauty and delicacy of its ornamentations; and the
Bridal Chamber, also covered with floral designs.

The Caves of Nakimu are of peculiar interest to the geologist, as the
limestone of which they are composed is rare in the Selkirks. The
subterranean stream which forms the principal feature of the caves is
also a rare phenomenon either in the Rockies or Selkirks. There is
some difference of opinion as to the origin of the caves. The
passageways are unquestionably due in a measure to water-erosion, but
Mr. Wheeler, who has given the matter much study, is convinced that a
more potent agency has been at work. "It is not unreasonable to
assume," he says, "that a seismic disturbance once shattered this bed
of crystalline limestone and precipitated Cougar Creek into
subterranean channels which the water and time have enlarged to their
present size; moreover, that subsequent shocks are responsible for the
large quantities of débris that litter their floors. This hypothesis
would explain the crack of the Gorge and similar chasms beneath the
surface."

[Illustration: THE WEIRD CAVES OF NAKIMU. _Canadian Pacific Railway
Company_]



IX

MOUNTAIN CLIMBING AND CLIMBERS


Some of the most notable exploits in mountain-climbing in the Canadian
Rockies have been by officers of the Dominion Government, such as J.
J. McArthur and A. O. Wheeler, merely as incidents to their serious
work of topographical surveying. The advent of the mountaineer as
such, and the development of the region as a mountaineer's paradise,
dates from the visit of William Spotswood Green in 1888. Probably his
book, which appeared two years later, did as much as anything else to
bring others to the Canadian mountains. At any rate, in 1890, members
of the English and Swiss Alpine Clubs, and the Appalachian Mountain
Club of Boston, visited the Selkirks, and returned with enthusiastic
accounts of the new field available to mountain climbers.

The visit of Professor Charles E. Fay, of the Appalachian Club, led to
the formation of an Alpine section of that club, and later to the
organisation of the American Alpine Club. The Alpine Club of Canada
came into being in 1906, and since that date, under the notable
leadership of A. O. Wheeler, has rapidly gained strength and
influence, drawing into its fold an ever-increasing number of those
who find keen pleasure and a widening and strengthening of all their
faculties in the splendid sport of mountain-climbing, or in the mere
dwelling from day to day in the companionship of some of the most
noble works of Nature.

The earlier explorations of mountain-climbers, following that of
Green, were confined pretty well to the Selkirks, but as interest
spread the great peaks of the main range were attempted, and one after
another succumbed to the attacks of such notable climbers as Outram,
Fay and Parker; Collie, Stutfield and Woolley; Abbott, Eggers, Weed
and Thompson, and the prince of all mountain-climbers, Whymper. A
brief account will now be given of some of these ascents in the
Rockies, leaving the Selkirks to another chapter.

Dr. Fay made an attempt upon Mount Goodsir in 1901, with Outram and
Scattergood, and the veteran Swiss guide Christian Häsler, but
owing to the exceptionally dangerous condition of the snow near the
summit the party were forced to turn back at the foot of the final
peak. Two years later this superb peak of the Ottertail Range was
again attacked by Dr. Fay, accompanied this time by Professor Parker,
and the guides Christian Kaufmann and Häsler. Dr. Fay has described
both climbs in the _Canadian Alpine Journal_, 1907, from which the
following account is taken.

The party camped at the foot of the mountain, in 1901, and set out at
daybreak the following morning. A stiff climb brought them to the base
of a steep cliff beyond which rose the final peak. "Before us," says
Dr. Fay, "rose this beetling face of dark rock, with little snow
patches here and there revealing possible stations, between which only
cracks and slight protuberances offered scanty holds for foot and
hand." With great care, however, they finally reached the top of the
cliff. Here, however, they were brought to a standstill.

"A most ominous situation revealed itself. The final peak was before
us, and its summit hardly three hundred feet distant--a great white
hissing mass,--a precipice on the hidden left side, a steep snow-slope
of perhaps 65 to 70 degrees on the right. Under the July sun its
whole surface was seemingly in a state of flux, slipping over the
underlying mass with a constant, threatening hiss. A second narrow
arête led across to this final summit. This, too, was corniced, and in
a remarkable way. The swirl of the wind had produced an unusual
spectacle. At the beginning and at the end, the cornice hung out to
the right; in the middle, a reversed section of it overhung the abyss
on the left.

"The two similar ones could doubtless have been passed. To cross the
middle section meant trusting ourselves to the sun-beaten slope
already in avalanching condition. Indeed, while we studied it, and as
if to furnish the final argument to our debate, the snow on our right
impinging against the cornice broke away, and down went a
well-developed avalanche a couple of thousand feet over that
much-tilted surface, and vanished in a sheer plunge that landed it
perhaps three thousand feet below that. It was a suggestive and
persuasive sight. Feeling sure that we had seen enough for one day we
beat a careful retreat."

The 1903 climb was practically identical with that of 1901, but the
conditions were entirely different. "The broken arête was indeed under
a draping of recent snow, but no cornice was in evidence. It was
'plain sailing'--and yet very interesting, for the arête was so narrow
and thin that one astride it could have his left leg vertical over a
sheer drop, at first indeed overhanging, of hundreds if not thousands
of feet, while its mate pointed down that 76° slope of snow, as silent
now as it was noisy in 1901. At eleven o'clock we were on the
summit--Goodsir was ours. The repulse of two years ago was forgotten,
and our affections went out to the graceful peak, no longer a sullen
monster, and, for the joys of that one glorious hour spent on its pure
snowy summit, we granted it our love for a lifetime."

The same year Professor Parker, with the guides Christian and Hans
Kaufmann, made a successful attack on Mount Hungabee, the grim
"Chieftain" (as the Indian name is translated) that stands guard at
the head of Paradise Valley.

The party left the Chalet at Lake Louise on the morning of July 20th,
and travelling up the Valley of the Ten Peaks, crossed over by a high
pass into Prospectors Valley where they camped. The following morning
at 3.50 they left camp and tramped up the valley to the foot of
Hungabee. A steep slope brought them to the foot of a vertical cliff,
the only practical means of ascent being by way of a narrow chimney
filled with ice. Christian Kaufmann went ahead, leaving his companions
at the foot of the cliff until he should reach the top.

"It was only," says Professor Parker, "by watching the rope that Hans
and I could judge the progress Christian was making above us. For
minutes at a time, it seemed, the rope would be motionless, then inch
by inch it would slowly disappear up the chimney, and the crash of
falling rocks and ice would warn us that we must cling even more
closely and find what protection we could beneath the rocky wall." At
last Christian gave the signal to follow, and the others soon stood
beside him at the top of the chimney. Above them a smooth, steep slope
led to the final peak, over which they made their way without
difficulty. The summit was now only a few hundred feet above, but the
arête or ridge leading to it was broken by vertical cliffs and quite
unscalable. The only alternative was to traverse a tremendously steep
snow-slope at the base of the cliffs and so reach the final cone.

"We did not," says Professor Parker, "discuss the possible dangers of
such a course, but cautiously made our way beneath the cliffs, turned
a most sensational corner almost in mid-air above Paradise Valley,
and then scaled a nearly perpendicular cliff by means of a convenient
crack. We were now on the arête but a very short distance from the
summit. Only one more difficulty confronted us: a narrow 'gabel,' or
break in the arête, only a few feet in width it is true, but with a
nearly sheer descent of thousands of feet on either side. This gabel
must be crossed to reach the summit. The arête was far too narrow to
allow a jump being made with safety; so, slowly and carefully, while
firmly grasping the rock on one side, Christian thrust his feet
forward until they touched the other and his body bridged the chasm;
then a strong forward swing, and he stood safely beyond the gap. For
me, aided by the rope, the matter was far less difficult, and soon we
made our way over the intervening arête, gained the corniced summit,
and Hungabee, the grim old 'Chieftain,' at last was conquered."

Among many daring climbs in the Canadian Rockies, few have been more
sensational than the successful ascent of Pinnacle Mountain, on the
eastern side of Paradise Valley, by J. W. A. Hickson in 1909. The
following is borrowed from Mr. Hickson's spirited account of the climb
in the _Canadian Alpine Journal_, 1910. Several determined efforts had
been made to capture the peak during the summer of 1907, but the
season was unfavourable for mountaineering, and in every case the
climbers were driven back. The critical point was at the foot of an
almost vertical tower, a few hundred feet below the summit, but only
two possible means of surmounting this final wall presented
themselves. One was by way of a chimney or crack in the wall, and the
other in traversing the face of the mountain along an extremely narrow
ledge of peculiarly rotten rock. The first had been tried
unsuccessfully in 1907. The latter formed the route of the 1909
expedition. Mr. Hickson was accompanied by two Swiss guides, Edouard
Fuez, Jr., and Rudolf Aemmer.

"It was realised," says Mr. Hickson, "that only very slow progress
could be made in this direction, for the disintegrated tawny-coloured
limestone rock was of a most treacherous character. It was covered for
the most part with a glaze of ice, which when disturbed had a tendency
to bring the eroded limestone away with it. It was hard to say whether
the rock sustained the ice or vice versa; perhaps the support, such as
it was, was mutual.

"In our attempt to turn a sharp angle I found myself sitting for about
ten minutes--but for what seemed more like half an hour--astride
a rocky protuberance, which appeared likely to give way at any moment,
while Fuez was endeavouring to find a good footing on the other side.
For a few minutes I almost regretted that I had come; for there was a
sheer drop on either side of probably 2,000 feet. At many places there
were no handholds; and we dared not touch the rocks with our ice-axes
lest we should precipitate downwards the insecure supports we were
standing on. We were very much in the position of flies on a nearly
vertical wall covered with sand which from time to time was crumbling
off. There was no defined ledge to follow.

"Advancing gingerly with cat-like tread, and avoiding any spring or
jerk which might detach the insecure footholds and leave us hanging
precariously, Fuez picked out places here and there which offered the
chance of a support, and we were glad when we found a piece of rock an
inch or two wide and a few inches long on a part of which a nailed
boot-edge could obtain a transitory grip. It is remarkable how very
small a projection, if not slippery, will suffice for a temporary
hold. Fortunately not one of the party once slipped; thus avoiding any
test as to how far he could have been held by the others. Luckily,
also, we had lots of rope, so that we could allow about twenty-five
feet between each person, and thus enabled us at times to manoeuvre
into better positions.

"Our nerves throughout this period of two hours, during most of which
only one of us moved at a time, were at considerable tension; not a
moment of slackness or diminution of watchfulness being allowable. A
keen lookout was constantly demanded to meet an emergency which was
not at all improbable. Nothing could be taken or was taken for
granted, except that everything was unreliable and an accident might
be expected. This is perhaps why none occurred.

"After advancing persistently and almost horizontally along the face
of the wall for two hours, we saw an unexpected chance of reaching our
goal more speedily than we had latterly hoped. This was offered by a
large couloir leading to the 'saddle' between the black tower and the
summit of the mountain, which is not much higher than the top of the
tower. Fairly steep and broad, the gulch contained some ice and snow.

"As we got down into it Fuez turned to me and said, 'I think we've got
him,' of which I was already convinced. Crossing the couloir we
rapidly ascended the rocks on the left side and at its top, to our
great surprise, landed on a bed of shale, which by an easy slope led
in a few minutes to the summit."

After resting for a time on the summit, and enjoying the wonderful
panorama of peaks and valleys, they prepared to make the descent. It
being more trying and precarious to climb down than up a mountain, the
guides were unwilling to follow the rather hazardous route they had
taken on the way to the summit, if it could be avoided, and it was
therefore decided to attempt the chimney, on the other side of the
mountain.

"We followed a narrow but firm ledge for about fifteen minutes from
the saddle around the southerly tower. It then became necessary to
reconnoitre to see if the route proposed were further feasible. So the
second guide Aemmer, assisted by Fuez, went ahead and soon returned to
say that we could get down by roping off. This led to one of the most
interesting and exciting bits of the whole climb.

"At the corner or angle where the ledge terminated there was a
peculiar arrangement of rock which had resulted in the formation of a
small square hole with nothing but sky to be seen on the further side.
Under this hole there was a gap in the ledge of about three feet, with
a drop of about fifteen feet into a dark pit beneath. To cross the
gap it was necessary to lie down flat upon the ledge on the one side
with face to the rock, stretch your feet to the rock on the other,
your body thus spanning the gap, then draw yourself through the hole
and gradually swing yourself into an upright position by the help of
the rope and the handholds in the further wall of rock. It looked a
more trying operation than it actually was because one had to turn
somewhat sharply on emerging from the hole in order to stand on a
somewhat slender ledge. But there is practically no danger; when one
is firmly held on the rope by guides, whose caution and
resourcefulness, here as elsewhere, were admirable, and have fully
justified the confidence which I have always reposed in their ability.

"Having, with mutual assistance, all three surmounted this difficulty
and having advanced a little further down the side of the tower, we
perceived a way into the chimney already referred to, about sixty feet
above its base. Here it was obvious that the only way of getting down
was to rope off. Amongst other paraphernalia we had brought with us an
extra short piece of rope which would serve as a loop. It was now
slung around a firm piece of rock, which was rendered more adaptable
to the purpose by a little hammering, while through the loop was
passed a second rope about 120 feet long. This being doubled still
gave us the required length.

"I went down first, being held besides on another rope, so that no
serious mishap could have overtaken me. For the first forty feet there
were practically no footholds to be found, a fact for which we were
prepared; but fortunately the rock was good--indeed, this is the only
bit of firm rock on the mountain--and I got safely down and out of the
chimney, after swinging once or twice like a bundle of goods, without
any worse experience than having my clothing a little torn and with
the feeling that there might be a permanent groove around the centre
of my body.

"Fuez descended next and took a photograph of Aemmer sitting at the
top. As Aemmer was descending he disturbed a small stone which danced
down with great force and, to Fuez's chagrin, cut off about twenty
feet from the lower end of his fine manilla rope. We then pulled down
the rope, but of course, had to leave behind the loop, which may be
serviceable to some other party."

One is tempted to repeat the story of the first successful ascent of
Mount Deltaform, described by Wilcox as the "most difficult mountain
yet ascended in the Canadian Rockies;" and of Wilcox's own climb up
Mount Temple, but both are readily accessible in the _Rockies of
Canada_. Some idea of the magnitude of the task of scaling Deltaform
may be got from the fact that an unusually strong climbing party
consisting of Professor H. C. Parker, Dr. A. Eggers, and the Swiss
guides Hans and Christian Kaufmann, were nearly twenty-two hours in
conquering the peak, "after a reconnaissance and repulse two days
before."

This sketch of mountain-climbing in the main range of the Canadian
Rockies, designed merely to give as far as possible in the words of
the actors, some idea of the experiences incident to this king of
sports, may close with an account of the first ascent of Crows Nest
Mountain, one of the most difficult climbs in the Southern Canadian
Rockies. P. D. McTavish tells the story in the _Canadian Alpine
Journal_, 1907.

In August, 1905, Mr. McTavish, with three friends, reached the base of
the mountain and after several attempts which ended in quite
impossible precipices, found a great crevice leading up about 400 feet
and "resembling the space left in a whole cheese when a thin
wedge-shaped piece has been removed." After resting for a time, they
climbed up to a dome of rock which had obstructed their view. "With
some difficulty we surmounted this, and found ourselves at the base of
a beautifully straight, but very perpendicular, chimney, about six
feet in width and two hundred feet high. This offered possibilities,
so we immediately proceeded to climb to the top. Arriving there, a
short shaly slope led to a similar chimney, up which we climbed. We
now found ourselves at the top of the first circular band which
begirts the mountain, and felt that victory was within our grasp.

"For some time we encountered a series of steep, rocky slopes and
perpendicular faces, which led to a long slope of about one thousand
feet, after which the climbing again became fairly difficult, but for
only a short time, as we had reached the final dome, and at 12.15
o'clock we stood upon the summit." The entire climb had occupied about
four hours.

[Illustration: THE ASSAULT. _Byron Harmon_]

[Illustration: VICTORY AT LAST. _Byron Harmon_]

[Illustration: THE MONARCH OF THE ROCKIES. (_From a painting by George
Horne Russell_) _Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company_]

[Illustration: SNOW MUSHROOMS _Byron Harmon_]

[Illustration: ICICLES ON MOUNT ROBSON. (_50 feet long_)_George
Kinney_]



X

CLIMBING IN THE SELKIRKS


Although W. S. Green had made an attempt in 1888, it was not until two
years later that the giant of the Selkirks, Mount Sir Donald, was
conquered. In July, 1890, Carl Sulzer and Emil Huber, of the Swiss
Alpine Club, set out one morning about 4 o'clock from their camp at
timber line, determined to find a way to the summit of the magnificent
peak that shot up into the sky from their very feet. They had already
studied the mountain from several points, and had selected a route
that looked promising.

Crossing a small glacier, they turned up a couloir or gully
terminating in a cave, above which the cliffs rose almost
perpendicularly. The last part of the couloir became so narrow that
the climbers had to force their way up by propping their bodies in the
angle against the rocks on either side.

After a short rest, they started climbing up to the rocks of the
southern ridge. It was stiff work in places even for such experienced
mountaineers, but finally they reached the main crest and "gazed
beyond the undulating tops of the foothills, upon the far-stretched
row of blue peaks of the Rocky Mountains." Following the arête, or
steep ridge of the mountain, and overcoming more than one difficulty
as they went, they finally stood upon the summit, 10,800 feet above
the sea.

From this isolated point they had a wonderful view of the Selkirks,
with the main range of the Rockies in the distance. "The finest view
presented itself in the southwest and south. Above the undulations of
the Asulkan and Illecillewaet glaciers and opposite a deep valley, the
fine group of Mount Dawson arose with its two corner-pillars, Mount
Donkin and Mount Fox. But the most beautiful mountain of all appeared
above the opening between Mount Dawson and Mount Donkin. It was Mount
Purity, very properly so called, a snow mountain of the finest order."

Building a cairn to commemorate the first ascent of Sir Donald, and
burying in it a bottle containing a record of the climb, ending with
the jubilant words, "Three cheers for Switzerland," they retraced
their way down the mountain, and were enthusiastically received at
Glacier House, news of the first big climb in the Selkirks being
immediately telegraphed east and west.

Toward the end of the same month, Herr Huber, accompanied by Messrs.
Topham and Forster, of the English Alpine Club, made the first ascent
of Mount Purity, which had been named by Topham. They camped on the
western slopes of the mountain, and set out for the summit about
sunrise the following morning. The climb was a comparatively easy one
to such seasoned mountaineers, and two hours' work brought the party
to the summit.

Meanwhile Herr Sulzer was attacking another virgin peak, which he had
named Swiss Peak. He had but one companion, with little or no
experience in mountain-climbing, so that the attempt was a somewhat
daring one.

Clambering up a series of grassy slopes and rock ridges, and crossing
a glacier, they encountered steep rocks which afforded interesting
though cautious climbing. A steep ice-slope now blocked further
progress, and had to be negotiated by cutting "deep steps into the
blue ice, which was as hard as glass." An hour's hard work brought
them to the rocks on the opposite side. A comparatively easy climb
along the ridge finally conducted them to the summit.

"The day," says Sulzer, "was perfectly clear. As far as the eye could
see were innumerable mountain peaks all around. In the southern
foreground the ice-girdled, central mass of the Selkirks, with its
northern marking stone, the bold, fascinating Sir Donald, appeared
especially beautiful. In the east, beyond the lower Selkirk peaks, the
long row of haughty Rockies lay spread in partly rounded, partly
broken shapes--a scene which I shall never forget. Sharply outlined,
dark rock masses interchanged with lofty snow-tops; all showed clearly
and glistened in the furthest distance, where, only fading, their
faint outlines were lost in the horizon. The northern groups showed
some particularly high peaks, and immense snow and ice-fields. Stately
mountain chains in the west completed the scope." Herr Sulzer supposed
the high peaks in the north to be Mount Brown and Mount Hooker, the
famous peaks near the headwaters of the Athabaska which David Douglas
the botanist estimated in 1827 to be between 16,000 and 17,000 feet in
height, and which Professor A. P. Coleman of Toronto visited in 1893
and found to be about 9000 feet! In 1890, of course, they were still
supposed to be the highest peaks in the Canadian Rockies, and many an
ambitious mountain-climber hoped some day to stand upon their
remote summits.

As the reputed eminence of these now rather despised mountains was
universally received for well-nigh three-quarters of a century, and is
still recorded in a number of very respectable books of reference, it
may not be without interest to quote Douglas's own account, as found
in his Journal:

"Being well rested by one o'clock," (he was then at the summit of
Athabaska Pass), "I set out with the view of ascending what seemed to
be the highest peak on the north. Its height does not appear to be
less than sixteen thousand or seventeen thousand feet above the level
of the sea. After passing over the lower ridge I came to about 1200
feet of by far the most difficult and fatiguing walking I have ever
experienced, and the utmost care was required to tread safely over the
crust of snow.

"The view from the summit is of too awful a cast to afford pleasure.
Nothing can be seen in every direction as far as the eye can reach
except mountains towering above each other, rugged beyond
description.... This peak, the highest yet known in the northern
continent of America, I feel a sincere pleasure in naming 'Mount
Brown,' in honour of R. Brown, Esq., the illustrious botanist.... A
little to the southward is one nearly the same height, rising into a
sharper point; this I named Mount Hooker, in honour of my early
patron, the Professor of Botany in the University of Glasgow. This
mountain, however, I was unable to climb."

Dr. J. Norman Collie, in commenting on this passage, says: "If Douglas
climbed a seventeen-thousand-feet peak alone on a May afternoon, when
the snow must have been pretty deep on the ground, all one can say is
that he must have been an uncommonly active person. What, of course,
he really did was to ascend the Mount Brown of Professor Coleman,
which is about nine thousand feet high. These two fabulous Titans,
therefore, which for nearly seventy years have been masquerading as
the monarchs of the Canadian Rockies, must now be finally deposed."

In a letter from Mr. A. L. Mumm, of the English Alpine Club, who did
some climbing in the Canadian Rockies in the autumn of 1913, he
mentions that he climbed Mount Brown, and his aneroid made the height
8950 feet. Lest the humiliated mole-hill should fade away altogether,
he is willing to admit that the accepted elevation of 9050 feet is
probably correct. As for Mount Hooker, no one seems to have thought
it worth while to climb it. In fact there is no great certainty as to
which of the mountains about Athabaska Pass was Douglas' Mount Hooker.
All that remains certain is that no peak in the neighbourhood remotely
approaches the height given by the well-meaning botanist.

We may return to Herr Sulzer for a moment to note a curious incident
that he mentions in connection with an expedition to a point west of
Mount Tupper. "Seated on the highest elevation," he says, "I began to
sketch a portion of the view, while black thunderclouds sailed towards
the ridge from the valley. Suddenly, two stone slabs next to me and
standing opposite each other begin to make a humming noise, the metal
holder of my sketching pencil buzzes and my pick begins to crackle
strongly, especially when I grasp it. Simultaneously, a slight rain
sets in and my fingers, also moistened by the rain, buzz. My companion
is taken by a sudden fright and is incapable of uttering a sound. The
cause of this phenomenon was clear to me at once, although I was not
fully aware of the degree of danger which it might include. We were in
an electric cloud. I remembered to have heard a few thunder reports a
short time before, issuing from the same cloud which had now reached
us. The main volume of electricity stored up in it had escaped by
lightning. The rest escaped when it reached the ridge, and to some
extent, we ourselves involuntarily acted as conductors to the earth. A
direct danger, therefore, was not present; for if the electric tension
had still been great enough to generate lightning flashes, such would
have been ejected before the clouds themselves touched the ridge.
Nevertheless, the phenomenon was so strong that when I touched the
pick on its metal mount, I felt a strong shock, and at night the play
of sparks would undoubtedly have been visible."

The Minute Book at Glacier House contains an account of the first
ascent of Mount Tupper, by Wolfgang Koehler, of Leipzig, in 1906. A
translation of the narrative appeared in the _Canadian Alpine
Journal_, 1909, from which the following is taken:

Koehler made the expedition with two Swiss guides, Edouard Fuez, Jr.,
and Gottfried Fuez. They walked from Glacier to Rogers Pass, and
climbed up the trail to a hut provided for mountain-climbers, where
they spent the night.

"The night was wonderfully beautiful, a cloudless sky and brilliant
moonlight. Moreover, to be surrounded by the dear, beautiful
mountains! How one's heart goes out to them! Towards 4 A. M. we got
up, breakfasted, and started off at 5 A. M. We took the direction at
first immediately behind the hut, then turned off to the right, and
across the little icy creek, looking up to Rogers, Swiss and Fleming
Peaks, Mount Tupper, Sifton and Grizzly. It was always up and then
down again. We had innumerable gullies and streams to cross, until we
reached the ridge at the end of two hours. We rested, and then started
again, always following the ridge over icy blocks."

So they made their way, with more or less difficulty, until they
reached a point where more serious problems confronted them. There
were several possible routes, all involving pretty stiff climbing. One
was finally selected as the most promising.

"In the middle of the right wall was a broad chimney, if only we could
get up there direct. Two ridges appeared running parallel, which
seemed to make the ascent possible. We climbed to the first ridge,
next to the chimney, then up the first ridge in the chimney itself. So
far we were still right. With the help of three picks and four hands
Edouard got up a little higher, but quickly came down again. That
could not be the right way. He tried then to go direct by the chimney,
but that was not practicable, and so he had to come back.

"In between was Gottfried, who had successfully climbed up and stood
in the chimney. I followed, Gottfried continued on, but a shower of
big and small stones came down. It seemed as if everything was rotten,
and, in spite of great care, not one of us could avoid bringing down
the stones. We now went on the outside, round the rock, and came to a
big flat, climbed a little broken chimney, and then got over a large
rock. Soon we stood again before the wall. One piece appeared somewhat
loose, and formed a breach, which gave us sufficient hold to get on to
a small platform. From there it was a short, somewhat overhanging
climb to the higher platform. 'This is the sort of place for people
with long legs,' Edouard called out (I am 6 ft. 4 in.). 'Alas, we
little ones have no chance.'

"We now came back again to the ridge, came to a little _gendarme_
(isolated rock tower or pinnacle) with a beautiful outlook down the
valley, and climbed on, until we suddenly came to a wide platform. We
had all three expected that the last piece to the summit would be
especially difficult. It looked so from the distance, but when we
came to it quite an easy way appeared of getting up. We stepped over
one sharp knife-edged ridge, 'tight-rope dancing' we called it, and
with a loud hurrah, reached the summit.... Would that many could see
and experience the joy of this beautiful mountain as I have done.
_Aufwiedersehen_!"

[Illustration: CLIMBING MOUNT RESPLENDANT. _P. L. Tait_]

[Illustration: SUMMIT OF MOUNT RESPLENDANT. (_11,173 feet above the
sea_) _P. L. Tait_]

[Illustration: CLIMBING AMONG THE SERACS. _R. C. W. Lett_]



XI

AFIELD IN JASPER


Hitherto we have been wandering about what may be called the Southern
Group of the Canadian National Parks, along the main line of the
Canadian Pacific Railway. There remain two parks, Jasper and Robson,
lying on either side of Yellowhead Pass, famous in the annals of the
fur-trade as Tête Jaune. Through both run the lines of the new
transcontinental railways, the Grand Trunk Pacific and the Canadian
Northern, on their way to the Pacific coast. These two parks may for
convenience be called the Northern Group, although only one is
strictly speaking a national park, Robson being under the jurisdiction
of the Provincial Government of British Columbia. Tête Jaune Pass and
Tête Jaune Cache are said to commemorate the personality of a veteran
Indian trader or trapper whose yellow hair made him conspicuous in a
country where black was the prevailing hue. Jasper Park is named after
a famous trader of the North West Company, Jasper Hawes, the site of
whose trading fort may still be seen on the banks of the Athabaska,
though every vestige of the buildings has long since disappeared.
Jasper House, as it was called, was still standing when Milton and
Cheadle went through the mountains in 1862. They describe it as "a
neat white building, surrounded by a low palisade, standing in a
perfect garden of wild flowers, backed by dark green pines which
clustered thickly round the bases of the hills." Ten years later, when
Sandford Fleming examined the pass as a possible route for the
Canadian Pacific Railway, the post had been abandoned and the
buildings were falling into decay. A mile or two east of Jasper, the
headquarters of the park, one is shown a grassy mound which represents
all that remains of another old trading post, Henry House. Here two
routes through the mountains forked, one leading up to Yellowhead
Pass, and the other to Athabaska Pass.

The peculiar charm of Jasper Park, and of its sister reservation on
the western side of the Pass, is in the fact that it is almost virgin
ground. As a Park it is very young indeed, and there has not yet been
time to improve upon nature. Lest this should suggest a touch of
sarcasm, let us admit at once that nature can be improved upon when
the improvement takes the form of practicable trails into the heart of
the mountains, and the opening of such trails is one of the principal
objects of the Canadian Parks authorities. Nevertheless, however one
may appreciate the convenience of a good trail, there is a joy
unspeakable to the natural man in getting out into the wilderness, if
possible where no man has been before, but at least where nothing
exists to remind him of the noisy civilisation he has managed to
escape from for a time. And that is what you will find in Jasper Park:
no automobiles, no stage coaches, no luxurious hotels, no newspapers,
no luxuries of any kind, and very few conveniences; but a sufficiency
of plain food, the intoxicating air of the mountains to eat it in, and
the mountains themselves ever about and above you. What more could a
tired man ask? What more could any man ask?

At least so two eastern city men thought as they awoke one glorious
August morning to find their train crossing the eastern boundary of
Jasper Park, with Brulé Lake sparkling ahead and the curious outlines
of Folding Mountain dominating the landscape to the south. At a little
station called Pocahontas, a few miles beyond the western end of the
lake, they were dumped off unceremoniously with their luggage, and
welcomed by a stalwart park officer who had rashly undertaken to look
after them for the next few days, and particularly to pilot them out
to the Miette hot springs. While he trotted off to round up his
ponies, the two "tenderfeet" had leisure to look about them.

Pocahontas, what there is of it, nestles at the foot of Roche Miette,
a great frowning bastion of rock dropping sheer for nearly a thousand
feet toward the waters of the Athabaska. They tell you in the
mountains that it was named after a trapper who managed to clamber up
its precipitous sides many years ago, perhaps in chase of a mountain
goat, and sat himself down on the extreme edge with his feet dangling
over the thousand foot drop. No doubt the situation afforded him the
same satisfaction that is experienced by those praiseworthy citizens
whose names one sees carved on the extreme end of a log overhanging
the Horseshoe Falls at Niagara. Posterity has rather a rude name for
such heroes.

A short walk from Pocahontas brings you to a view of one of the most
charming waterfalls in this part of the mountains. The erosion of ages
has here carved out of the face of the cliff a lofty, semi-circular
alcove, and over this background of sombre rock drops a ribbon of
sparkling diamonds. An illustration might give some idea of the scene,
but could not do justice to the peculiar grace and animation of the
fall as seen under a bright sun and swayed gently by a summer's
breeze. There are a number of beautiful waterfalls in Jasper Park,
such as those on Stony River, a tributary of the Athabaska some
distance above Pocahontas, in the Maligne Canyon, of which something
will be said later, on the south side of Pyramid Mountain, and on
Sulphur Creek above the hot springs, but none that cling to the memory
like that of the Punch Bowl.

Largely because the Southern Parks, Rocky Mountains, Yoho and Glacier,
are comparatively well known, the writer has preferred to describe
them impersonally, to picture them as far as possible as seen through
the eyes of other and more competent authorities, men who have learnt
to know them intimately. The case is different with the Northern
Parks, Jasper and Robson. Very few visitors from the outside world
have yet discovered their wonderful possibilities; indeed until very
lately they have been inaccessible except to those possessing the time
and hardihood for a long journey from Edmonton over very rough
trails. Similarly very little has been written about the Northern
Parks. For this reason the writer will venture to describe in a more
personal vein some of the characteristic features of Jasper and
Robson.

Presently the ponies arrived, and we set off on our fourteen-mile ride
to the Miette springs. The trail was a good one, so that we were not
yet in the full enjoyment of the wilderness. That was to come later.
Mile after mile we jogged along, sometimes in the open, sometimes in
the heart of the woods, winding zigzag fashion down a steep hillside,
splashing through a noisy little creek, and zigzagging up the opposite
hill. For a couple of hours Roche Miette towered above us as we swung
around his flank, and then ahead loomed up the great wall of Buttress
Mountain, with Fiddle Creek winding along its base, peacefully enough
now, so peacefully indeed that it is hard to believe the tales we are
told of its resistless fury as it rages down in the spring, filling
this wide channel from bank to bank, and turning its wonderful
canyon--200 feet of sheer black rock--into a roaring hell of waters.

The Springs themselves we did not find particularly interesting. We
listened respectfully to the information that their temperature
ranged from 112 to 128 degrees Fahrenheit, and that they possessed
valuable curative properties. After testing the upper pool we were
willing to believe that the temperature was even worse than that, and
not being rheumatic we accepted the curative properties without
question but without enthusiasm. Still it was a pleasant enough place
to loaf for a day or two, scrambling about the hills and exploring the
upper waters of Sulphur Creek, and the lower pool turned out to be
rather an agreeable thing to roll about in for a time before turning
in to our tent for the night. The big mountains, however, were still
ahead of us, and we saw the last of the little group of springs
without much regret. Within a year or two the primitive pools that
have cured the rheumatism and other ailments of generations of traders
and trappers for a hundred years or more, will be confined in neat
concrete basins, and a pipe line will carry the water down the valley
of Fiddle Creek to the Chateau Miette, one of a series of great hotels
that the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway is to build through the
mountains. Never mind, the tourists are welcome to the Miette Hot
Springs, and they may build an automobile road along the face of
Buttress Mountain if they will, so that they leave us for a time
unspoiled some of the wild spots that lie beyond.

We started back to Pocahontas rather late in the afternoon, and the
sun went down as we climbed the last hill from Fiddle Creek. Over the
shoulder of Buttress Mountain a graceful spire soared into the sky,
and as we turned in our saddles to take a last look at it before
following the trail into the woods, it grew so strangely and
wonderfully luminous that we unconsciously pulled in our horses and
stood there in silent amazement. Momentarily the light deepened, and
golden shafts shot out into the velvet sky. Then as we gazed
spell-bound, from the very heart of the golden crown, and immediately
behind the glowing peak, there rose the silver moon, and hovered for
an instant on the very summit of the mountain, a vision so glorious
that it almost brought tears to one's eyes.

An hour's ride by rail from Pocahontas carried us to Jasper, the
headquarters of the park administration, a rudimentary town seated in
a charming valley and surrounded by mountains, with the Athabaska
sweeping by on its way down to the plains. From here we made several
short trips, to Pyramid Lake and Pyramid Mountain, the former a
characteristically beautiful tarn, and the latter a graceful peak with
a variety of colouring rarely found in these mountains, reds and
browns, blacks and greys, softly blended with the utmost perfection.
On the way we had glimpses of a couple of lovely little lakes on the
other side of the Athabaska, lying close together, one a bright blue
and the other a most brilliant emerald. Behind them rose Maligne
Mountain, with the valley of the Athabaska opening up to the
southwest, a group of great peaks in the distance, and around to the
west the majestic, snow-crowned peak, Mount Geikie.

Another day was spent in a long walk to the Maligne Canyon. We started
under heavy clouds, which presently broke in rain, that slow,
persistent sort of rain that never seems to tire. On we plodded for
hours, determined to stick it out because we had been warned that we
would certainly be driven back. And in the end we were rewarded with
the Canyon, seen under most uncomfortable and depressing conditions,
but compelling admiration for its gloomy splendour, its ebony walls so
close together in spots that one could almost jump across, not merely
perpendicular but sometimes overhanging, so that creeping to the edge
and leaning over one looked down to the centre of the stream roaring a
hundred feet or more below.

One other afternoon was devoted to a visit to Swift, the first and
only settler in the pass. Swift came here many years ago, after an
adventurous career in mining camps from Colorado to northern British
Columbia. On a hunting or trading expedition through the mountains he
discovered a beautiful little prairie, a few miles below where Jasper
now stands, and then and there determined to make it his home. He came
back, built a rude log shack, took unto himself a wife, and despite
innumerable discouragements has managed to live happily and
contentedly. To-day he owns a good farm in the heart of the Rocky
Mountains, with cattle and horses, and as both the great
transcontinental railways have had to build through his property,
Swift bids fair to end his days in wealth and prosperity. If wealth
can make him any happier, he thoroughly deserves it for his pluck and
perseverance under conditions that would have driven most men to
despair. An afternoon spent at Swift's ranch, roaming with him about
his own particular little canyon, or listening to his yarns of
mountain and plain, mining camp, trapping, and hunting, told with all
the spirit of a born story-teller, is an experience well worth
remembering.

[Illustration: JASPER LAKE. _R. C. W. Lett_]

[Illustration: FIDDLE CREEK CANYON. _R. C. W. Lett_]



XII

OUT OF THE WORLD


Chatting one evening with the genial Superintendent of Jasper Park,
into whose sympathetic ear we had been pouring our ardent desire to
see some portion of the mountains that was at least comparatively
unknown, he replied: "I know the very place you want--Maligne Lake,
off to the south of here. I can get you a good guide and outfit
to-night, and you can start in the morning." The name did not sound
very inviting; rather suggested that some one had seen the lake and
condemned it. It appeared, however, that the name was really given to
the river by which the waters of the lake are carried down to the
Athabaska, and that the Indians had their own good reasons for
pronouncing it "bad." We lived to commend their verdict. As for the
lake, it would be as reasonable to call it "Maligne" as to give such a
name to a choice corner of paradise. That, however, is getting a
little ahead of the story.

The following morning the guide and his helper with the outfit were
waiting for us on the other side of the Athabaska. We and our packs
were punted across, the pack-horses were loaded, we climbed on our
ponies and started off for the undiscovered country, as it pleased us
to call it, with mountains smiling down upon us, a radiant sky
overhead, and unutterable joy in our hearts.

The trail--it is painful to admit that there was a trail, and an
excellent one at that--led up the valley of the Athabaska to Buffalo
Prairie, where we made our first camp after an easy day's journey.
Buffalo Prairie is a beautiful meadow set among the rolling hills that
break the level of the long valley, with that first consideration to
those who travel in the mountains, an abundance of feed for the
horses, and with wonderful views of the great guardian peaks, Geikie,
Hardisty, the Three Sisters, and a great company of glittering giants
as yet unnamed. To one who comes from the east where every little
hillock has its name, it is startling to find oneself gazing
reverently at a majestic pyramid of rock and ice soaring a mile or so
into the sky, and learn from the indifferent guide that it is merely
one of the thousand nameless mountains.

The following morning we were off early, to the infinite disgust of
the horses who were revelling in the good feed of the prairie. There
was a long day's journey ahead up to and over Bighorn Pass, and a good
deal of uncertainty as to where we might find any sort of a camping
ground on the other side of the mountains. For a time we continued our
way up the valley of the Athabaska, and then began the long slow climb
up to the pass, over 8000 feet above the sea. As we topped one hill
after another, sometimes travelling through patches of jack pine,
sometimes up the dry bed of a mountain stream, there opened up new and
ever more glorious views of the great ranges on either side. High up
on the trail we had to turn aside to make room for a long pack train
on its way down to Jasper. Hideous confusion would result if the two
outfits were allowed to get entangled, only to be made right after
much expenditure of time and pungent language. Finally the last
pack-horse went by with a picturesque packer jogging along in the
rear, and we began the last and heaviest grind up to the pass. The
trail wound into the pass, and up and ever up, until we must get off
the plucky little beasts and lead them the final stage, puffing and
panting as we stumbled along through the heavy loose shale until at
last we stood on the summit, and with a last glance back at the peaks
off toward Athabaska Pass turned down through an alpine meadow, and
in the midst of a swirling snowstorm, toward the valley of the
Maligne.

For hours we toiled around the shoulders of hills of loose shale, or
through miles of muskeg, or fallen timber, sometimes mounted, oftener
on foot leading our hard-worked ponies, until at long last with the
sun below the horizon we found on a steep hillside a little feed for
the horses, and water for our kettles. The tent had to be pitched on
the trail, the only relatively clear spot that could be found, and we
trusted to Providence not to send another outfit along in the middle
of the night to walk over us. It had been a long heavy day's travel,
and after our supper of bannocks and bacon and a pipe we turned in and
slept as only those may sleep who travel on the wilderness trail.

Our tent has been spoken of, but it was more properly a tepee--not the
tepee that you see in pictures of Indian life, made of skins neatly
sewn together and perhaps ornamented with rude drawings--but a modern
compromise, of the old Indian form but made of strong cotton. Some of
the guides in the mountains much prefer the tepee to the tent in any
of its familiar forms. Others will have none of it. Our own
experience led us to the conclusion that the tepee is without a
rival in a good tepee country, that is one where suitable tepee poles
are abundant, but there are occasions when you have to camp in a
district where poles are as hard to find as needles in a haystack, and
the resources of the language seem ludicrously inadequate as you limp
about the camp in an ever-widening circle hunting for something that
will support the thrice-damnable tepee for the night.

If you are fortunate enough to find a sufficient number of long,
straight, slender poles among the fallen timber (in the parks you are
not permitted to cut down trees for the purpose), it is a matter of
but a very few minutes to stack them in position, stretch the cotton
over the frame, and lace the front with a handful of small twigs,
leaving an opening at the top. Then you make the beds around the
circle, and build your camp fire in the middle. On a cold night, and
particularly on a cold, rainy night, one blesses the Indian who first
invented the tepee. Instead of shivering outside around a fire that
will not burn, you have your fire with you in a large roomy tent, and
can cook your meals and eat them in comfort. And who that has
experienced it can forget the evening around the tepee fire, resting
tired bodies on luxurious beds, smoking the pipe of peace, and
swapping yarns until it is time to roll up in the thick, warm Hudson
Bay blankets and sleep until dawn, or until the smell of frying bacon
awakens one to another day's adventures.

This morning on the hillside overlooking the Maligne Valley proved to
be a Red Letter day in our calendar. The sun had been rather unkind
since we left Jasper, but now as we scrambled out of the tepee, we
looked up into a cloudless sky. Far below a noisy little creek hailed
us cheerily as it hurried down from the mountains to join the Maligne.
In the distance we had glimpses of the river itself, and beyond uprose
an extraordinary wall of rock a thousand feet or more in height,
shutting in the valley and running on one side toward Maligne Lake and
on the other far off into the hazy distance toward the Athabaska.

Our plans were to climb up the valley to Maligne Lake, take advantage
of the kindly sun to secure a few pictures, and then make our way back
to last night's camp and down the valley to Medicine Lake. East of
Medicine Lake we had heard of a wonderful little body of water called
Jack Lake, famous not so much because of its beauty as for the
extraordinary abundance of its trout.

A ride of an hour or so, up and down hill, through fallen timber,
muskeg and acres of boulders, with finally a most delightful gallop
through a piece of virgin timber, brought us unexpectedly out on to a
point of land overlooking Maligne Lake. We had read Mrs. Schaffer's
enthusiastic description of the lake, but were hardly prepared for the
perfectly glorious sight that lay before us: a lake of the most
exquisite blue, mirroring on one side a high ridge clothed to the
water's edge in dark green timber, and on the other a noble range of
mountains climbing up and up in graceful towers and pinnacles sharply
outlined against a cloudless sky. Beside us was an ideal camping
ground, and then and there we vowed to come back to this spot some
day, with several weeks to the good, and really make the acquaintance
of Maligne Lake, if one must call anything so gracious and beautiful
by such an inappropriate name.

Among the trees by the lake side we caught a glimpse of a tent, but
the owner was nowhere in sight. We afterwards learned that he was one
of the forest rangers, who rejoiced in the picturesque name of Arizona
Pete. How Arizona Pete had wandered so far from the land of alkali
plains and canyons no one seemed to know, but it was apparent that he
had accumulated in his travels a fund of hair-raising stories of which
Pete was the hero. If one heard of a riotously impossible exploit, and
it was not attributed to that mythical hero of the northwest, Paul
Bunion, one knew at once that it must be one of the adventures of
Arizona Pete.

Turning our backs most reluctantly on Maligne Lake, we rode back to
our deserted camp, and north toward Medicine Lake following what by
courtesy was called a trail but was actually nothing but a few blazes
pointing the way through a perfect wilderness of fallen timber. How
the ponies, with all their marvellous intelligence and matchless
endurance dragged themselves and us through the miles of hopelessly
tangled logs that covered ridge and valley nearly every foot of the
way to Medicine Lake, none of us could ever understand. However, we
did at last reach the mouth of the river where it emptied into the
lake.

Our proposed camping ground was in sight, a little cove on the eastern
side of the lake, with feed of sorts for the horses, and the prospect
of poles for the tepees; but we had still to cross the river and the
situation looked discouraging. There was said to be a ford here, but
the water had risen within the last few days and the sagacious ponies
sniffed at it disapprovingly. We tried one place after another, until
finally as a last resource the guide mounted the pluckiest and most
sure-footed of the bunch and coaxed him out into the raging stream.
Step by step they won their way to the other side, and the rest,
having seen that the thing could be done, followed willingly enough.
We all got over with nothing worse than a wetting, and the precious
provisions escaped even that. Twenty minutes brought us to the camping
ground, and our troubles were over for that day.

A plunge in the icy waters of Medicine Lake the following morning,
followed by a hasty breakfast, and we were off for Jack Lake eight or
ten miles to the east. The guide knew that the trail led off from a
creek near the camp, but we must hunt for the exact spot where it
began. It sounds simple enough, but in reality it was not at all
simple. The trail had not been much used, and the creek from which it
started ran through a dense thicket of alder. There was nothing to do
but circle around until we found it. So we did, sometimes ploughing
through the bush, sometimes splashing up the creek, until at last a
cry from the guide told us that the elusive trail was found, and we
could get on our way.

A few hundred yards brought us to the edge of the timber, and we
plunged from bright sunlight into the shade of the primæval forest,
where ancient cedars with venerable beards rose on every side from a
carpet of deep, emerald moss. On we jogged for several miles, winding
through the forest, now and then crossing a clear woodland stream, and
climbing gradually up into a pass through the mountains. Presently we
emerged from the trees with bold cliffs rising on either side carved
into fantastic shapes. We dropped down into a secluded valley, with an
emerald lake in the centre surrounded by velvet meadows, dark green
timber beyond stretching up to the foot of white cliffs which rose
abruptly on every side. Except for an eagle soaring far above there
was no sign of life in the valley, and the silence was so absolute
that one unconsciously lowered one's voice as if on the threshold of
some awe-inspiring temple.

The trail led down the valley, skirting the shores of the lake,
wandered through a bit of wood and brought us out on the shores of
another lake, finally into the timber again, and up out of the
valley through a gap in the mountains. Then for an hour or two we were
lost in the forest, following the trail as it wound about and about in
the seemingly casual and aimless fashion of wood trails. It did not
appear at the moment very important that it should lead anywhere. The
air was fragrant with the smell of pine and cedar and of a temperature
that left absolutely nothing to be desired; the great trees were far
enough apart to afford delightful vistas down long avenues whose mossy
carpet was kissed by sunbeams filtering through the evergreen branches
far above; the trail was clear and unencumbered, in wonderful contrast
to our experience of the previous day; and we were quite content to
jog along care-free and at peace with the world.

Finally a flash of blue through the trees warned us that we were
drawing near Jack Lake. We followed its shore for a mile or so, or
rather climbed along the face of the steep hillside that did duty for
shore on this side, and rounding the eastern end came out on a broad
meadow, with a new log shack in the foreground, a fringe of trees in
the middle distance, and a noble range of mountains filling in the
background. The owner of the shack, a young forest ranger, rushed out
to welcome us with the almost pathetic exuberance of one who had not
had anybody but his dog to talk to for several weeks.

When we had satisfied for the time his hunger for news of the outside
world, we produced our rods and requested him to produce his trout. He
grinned at the rods, and showed us his own--a stout stick with a heavy
cord tied to one end, and at the end of the cord a bent horseshoe
nail. "The bull trout here," he said, "don't like fancy rods." One of
us stuck manfully to his treasured equipment; the other borrowed the
ranger's stick and attached to it his heaviest line. Our hooks we
learned were much too delicate for the purpose, but finally we managed
to dig up a heavy pike hook for one line and a spoon for the other.
With a lump of fat pork for bait, we followed the ranger down the
banks of a creek running out of the lake, until we reached a deep,
still pool. He pointed silently to the pool, and we gasped. The pool
was literally alive with big trout from two to four or five pounds.
The lines barely touched the water before there was a fierce rush. The
trout were fighting for the bait. A huge fellow on each line, a brief
struggle, and both were safely landed. Within ten minutes we had more
than the party could eat in the next two or three days, and were
throwing back all but the largest fish. The climax came when we ran
out of pork, and one of us half jokingly made a cast with the spoon
and no bait, and landed a 4-pounder on each naked hook. After that we
gave it up, and tried the lake, hoping for trout that would give us
something a little more like sport; but there for some reason or
other, probably because the water in shore was shallow and we had no
way of getting out into the lake, we ran to the other extreme, and had
not a nibble in an hour's fishing. Although the story of our
experience on the creek is absolutely authentic, we feel sadly enough
that it is useless to hope that any one who has not visited Jack Lake
will credit the story. The world is full of Doubting Thomases, and
fish stories are fish stories. Nevertheless, this one is true.

The following morning we retraced our steps to Medicine Lake, and
after several hours' most painful scrambling along its precipitous
banks--where some enemy had told us there was a trail--we reached its
northern end, and camped for the night. Maligne Lake and Medicine Lake
drain into the Athabaska by Maligne River, but at the northern end of
the second lake, where one would expect to find a considerable stream
flowing out, the shore runs around smoothly to the western side
without a break. The lake empties through a subterranean channel, and
reappears in springs some miles down the valley, where the Maligne,
hitherto a small creek, suddenly develops into a respectable river.

We had been advised to return to the Athabaska by a direct trail from
Jack Lake, but our evil genius prompted us to try the Maligne River
route which would bring us out near Jasper. Never did the shortest way
round prove more conclusively the longest way home. For nine long
hours we toiled down that interminable valley without rest or food,
crossing the river back and forth innumerable times, scrambling up
banks so steep that we had to go on hands and knees with our faithful
little nags struggling up after us, and then finding in disgust that
we had to slide down again to the rocky bed of the river, worrying
through miles of fallen timber, miles of muskeg, miles of wiry bushes
that slapped us viciously in the face as we forced a way through, and
ripped our clothing until we looked more like stage tramps than fairly
respectable travellers. The expected trail proved to be nothing but a
few experimental blazes on the trees; experimental surely, as we found
more than once to our cost, following the blazes to a standstill in a
blind lead, and turning back in our tracks for perhaps half a mile to
where the "trail" branched off to the other side of the valley. That
day we became temporary converts to the theory that the pathless
wilderness was no place for sane mortals.

However, every lane must have its turning, and at last we hailed with
shouts of joy the familiar gorge of the Maligne, which we had visited
from Jasper some time before. From the gorge over to the Athabaska we
had a good trail, a boat ferried us across after our swimming horses,
and we were back again at the Hotel Fitzhugh, raiding the neighbouring
store for tobacco, our last pipeful having been smoked two days
before. Probably this had more than a little to do with our gloomy
impressions of the Maligne River trail.

[Illustration: JACK LAKE. _H. W. Craver_]

[Illustration: MALIGNE LAKE. _H. W. Craver_]

[Illustration: BREAKING CAMP IN THE MOUNTAINS. _A. Knechtel_]

[Illustration: MAKING A TRAIL THROUGH FALLEN TIMBER. _A. Knechtel_]



XIII

THE MONARCH OF THE ROCKIES


Waving a glad farewell to Jasper, the ugly little outpost of
civilisation, we threw our bags on the west-bound train the following
morning and were off for Mount Robson. A few miles' easy grade and we
were at the summit of Yellowhead Pass, the continental divide. Behind
us was Alberta, ahead British Columbia. We had left Jasper Park, and
were entering Robson Park.

Sliding down the long slope of the Fraser valley, with the blue waters
of Yellowhead Lake on our left hand, Mount Fitzwilliam above us to the
south, and the loftier peak of Geikie gradually opening up beyond, we
began to realise that there was much yet to be seen both at our feet
and up in the clouds. Another ten or fifteen miles, and we were
travelling along the north shore of Moose Lake, with the Rainbow
Mountains on one side and the Selwyn Range on the other. Moose Lake
was left behind, and we crowded out on to the rear platform of the
train to get our first glimpse of the Monarch of the Rockies, Mount
Robson. Almost without warning it came. We rounded the western end of
the Rainbow Mountains and looked up the valley of the Grand Fork. "My
God!" some one whispered. Rising at the head of the valley and
towering far above all the surrounding peaks we saw a vast cone, so
perfectly proportioned that one's first impression was rather one of
wonderful symmetry and beauty than of actual height. Then we began to
realise the stupendous majesty of the mountain, and recalled the words
of Milton and Cheadle half a century ago, "a giant among giants,
immeasurably supreme." Now, as then, its upper portion was "dimmed by
a necklace of light feathery clouds, beyond which its pointed apex of
ice, glittering in the morning sun, shot up far into the blue heaven."

It is interesting to know that David Douglas was not the only
scientist who made a wild guess at the height of a Rocky Mountain
peak. Douglas absurdly over-estimated the elevation of Mount Brown and
Mount Hooker. Alfred R. C. Selwyn quite as absurdly under-estimated
the height of Mount Robson, and he was at the time Director of the
Geological Survey of Canada. Selwyn made an expedition to the upper
waters of the Fraser in 1871, and in his official report says of
Robson: "It rises with mural precipices to a height of two or three
thousand feet above the river." As a matter of fact the summit of the
peak is about ten thousand feet above the river, and something over
thirteen thousand feet above the sea. There is comfort for the rest of
us in the fact that such an eminent scientist as the late Dr. Selwyn
could make such an extraordinary mistake.

We escaped from the train at a little station named after the great
mountain, and after several miles' tramp reached the base camp of the
Alpine Club of Canada, which was then holding its annual meeting in
the Robson district. There we spent the night, and before the sun went
down were fortunate enough to get an unobstructed view of the peak,
the last wisp of cloud driving off to the east leaving the mountain
outlined from base to summit and glowing with unearthly radiance in
the light of the setting sun. It is only at long intervals that such a
view is to be obtained, the peak retiring for weeks at a time behind
its curtain of clouds, or perhaps revealing its vast base and extreme
summit while the upper slopes are hidden.

When we set out in the morning for the main camp of the Alpine Club
by the shores of Berg Lake, on the north side of the mountain, Robson
had vanished completely, so completely that a stranger coming here for
the first time would not know that the impenetrable wall of cloud at
the head of the valley hid anything more remarkable than the rugged
hills on either side.

Our way lay for a time over the level ground covered with small
timber; then the trail began to climb up the valley, and the next
eight or ten miles developed into an almost continuous ascent,
sometimes on easy grades, sometimes winding up the sides of a hill as
steep as a high-pitched roof. At last beautiful Lake Kinney came in
sight, with Robson rising in stupendous slopes and precipices and
buttresses from its shores. Our way lay around the north shore of the
lake, over a pebbly flat, around the shoulder of the mountain and into
the Valley of a Thousand Falls--an enchanted valley, and we who had
invaded it were nothing but dream-folk, wandering spell-bound among
scenes more gorgeous than those of Sinbad the Sailor. Here was colour
in riotous profusion, and form, of flower and tree, of sombre cliff
and glittering snow-field and remote summit, music of mountain stream
and waterfall, of waterfalls innumerable, and with it all a sublime
spirit of rest and peace. What did it matter in this Vale of Content
that beyond the outer mountains men were sweating and struggling for
Dead Sea fruit. Here at least one could forget for the moment that he
was one of the same folly-driven race.

Out of the valley at last we climbed, up and up past the Falls of the
Pool and the Emperor Falls, up to the shores of Berg Lake whose
sapphire waters are dotted with white craft launched from the eternal
snows of the King of Mountains. Here at the end of a long day's
journey, a journey overflowing with experience, we sat down to rest
among the tents of the Alpine Climbers. Here, also, we listened to the
story--surely one of fine pluck and endurance--of how George Kinney
and Donald (popularly known as "Curlie") Phillips against all possible
odds fought their way to the supreme peak of Robson. Let us hear it in
their own words (_Alpine Club Journal_, 1910), only premising that
this first ascent of the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies was made
in August, 1909, after two unsuccessful attempts in 1907 and 1908, and
that the final ascent was only accomplished after twenty days of
continuous struggle, during which they were repeatedly driven back
from the peak by impossible conditions.

"At last," says Mr. Kinney, "the weather began to clear up, and
Monday, August 9th, we again climbed the rugged north shoulder.
Crossing the difficult shale slope, we passed the camp spots of our
former trips, and with our heavy fifty-pound packs struggled up those
fearful cliffs till we reached an altitude of nearly ten thousand five
hundred feet." Here they ran into a blizzard, and after a short,
hopeless struggle, had to clamber down again to their base camp. Their
provisions were almost exhausted, and they were many long miles from
any possible source of supply. For three days it stormed, and they
lived on birds and marmot. Finally on the 12th it cleared, and they
again climbed to the top of the west shoulder. "Here, at an altitude
equal to that of Mount Stephen, we chopped away a couple of feet of
snow and ice, and feathered our nest with dry slate stones. We
shivered over the little fire that warmed our stew, and then, amid
earth's grandest scenes, we went to bed with the sun and shivered
through a wretched night.

"Friday, August 13th, dawned cold and clear, but with the clouds
gathering in the south. Using our blankets for a wind-brake we made
a fire with a handful of sticks, and nearly froze as we ate out of the
pot of boiling stew on the little fire. Then we laid rocks on our
blankets so they would not blow away, and facing the icy wind from the
south, started up the west side of the upper part of the peak. The
snow was in the finest climbing condition, and the rock-work though
steep offered good going. Rapidly working our way to the south, and
crossing several ridges, we had reached in an hour the first of two
long cliffs that formed horizontal ramparts all around the peak. We
lost half an hour getting up this cliff.

"The clouds that came up with a strong south wind had gradually
obscured the peak, till by the time we reached the cliff they were
swirling by us on our level, and at the top of the cliff it began to
snow. For a moment I stood silent, and then turning to my companion
said: 'Curlie! my heart is broken.' For a storm on the peak meant
avalanches on that fearful slope, and there would be no escaping them,
so I thought that we would have to turn back, and our provisions were
now so low that we would not have enough to make another two-day trip
up the mountain. It meant that this was our last chance; but, to my
surprise, it did not snow much, the clouds being mostly a dense mist.
In a few minutes I said, 'Let us make a rush for the little peak,'
meaning the north edge of the peak which was directly above us. 'All
right,' said Curlie, from whom I never heard a word of discouragement,
and away we started, keeping to the hard snow slopes. Though these
were extremely steep, the snow was in such splendid condition that we
could just stick our toes in and climb right up hand over hand.

"By the time we had conquered the second of the long ramparts of
cliffs that form black threads across the white of the peak, we
concluded that it was not going to snow very hard, as the clouds were
mostly mist and sleet. Swinging again towards the south, we headed
directly for the highest point of the mountain, which we could see now
and then through the clouds. Small transverse cliffs of rock were
constantly encountered, but they were so broken that we could easily
get up them by keeping to the snow of the little draws.

"For hours we steadily climbed those dreadful slopes. So fearfully
steep were they that we climbed for hundreds of feet where standing
erect in our footholds the surface of the slopes was not more than a
foot and a half from our faces, while the average angle must have been
over sixty degrees. There were no places where we could rest. Every
few minutes we would make footholds in the snow large enough to enable
us to stand on our heels as well as our toes, or we would distribute
our weight on toe and hand-holds and rest by lying up against the wall
of snow. On all the upper climb we did nearly the whole work on our
toes and hands only. The clouds were a blessing in a way, for they
shut out the view of the fearful depths below. A single slip any time
during that day meant a slide to death. At times the storm was so
thick that we could see but a few yards, and the sleet would cut our
faces and nearly blind us. Our clothes and hair were one frozen mass
of snow and ice.

"When within five hundred feet of the top, we encountered a number of
cliffs covered with overhanging masses of snow, that were almost
impossible to negotiate, and the snow at that altitude was so dry that
it would crumble to powder and offer poor footing. We got in several
difficult places that were hard to overcome, and fought our way up the
last cliffs only to find an almost insurmountable difficulty. The
prevailing winds being from the west and south, the snow driven by
the fierce gales had built out against the wind in fantastic masses of
crystal, forming huge cornices all along the crest of the peak, that
can easily be distinguished from the mouth of the Grand Fork some ten
miles away. We finally floundered through these treacherous masses and
stood, at last, on the very summit of Mount Robson.

"I was astonished to find myself looking into a gulf right before me.
Telling Phillips to anchor himself well, for he was still below me, I
struck the edge of the snow with the staff of my ice axe and it cut in
to my very feet, and through that little gap that I had made in the
cornice, I was looking down a sheer wall of precipice that reached to
the glacier at the foot of Berg Lake, thousands of feet below. I was
on a needle peak that rose so abruptly that even cornices cannot build
out very far on it. Baring my head, I said, 'In the name of Almighty
God, by whose strength I have climbed here, I capture this peak, Mount
Robson, for my own country and for the Alpine Club of Canada.'"

The descent was not accomplished without difficulty and danger,
especially as a warm wind was melting the lower slopes and frequent
detours had to be made to avoid places where the ice or rock
beneath the thin snow would allow of no footholds whatever. It took
five hours to climb to the summit from the camp on the top of the west
shoulder, and seven hours to return to the same spot. During those
twelve hours it was impossible either to eat or rest. It was long
after dark before they reached the base camp, the entire climb
occupying twenty hours. "We were so tired we could hardly eat or rest
and our feet were very sore from making toe-holds in the hard snow.
But we had stood on the crown of Mount Robson, and the struggle had
been a desperate one. Three times we had made two-day climbs, spending
ninety-six hours in all above ten thousand feet altitude, so far
north. During the twenty days we were at Camp Robson we captured five
virgin peaks, including Mount Robson, and made twenty-three big
climbs."

[Illustration: THE PURPLE CRAGS OF ROCHE MIETTE. (_From a painting by
 George Horne Russell_) _Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company_]

[Illustration: MOUNT ROBSON. (_From the Grand Fork_) _R. C. W. Lett_]

[Illustration: EMPEROR FALLS. _R. C. W. Lett_]



XIV

ON THE MOOSE RIVER TRAIL


A pleasant evening had been spent on the shores of Berg Lake, admiring
the wonderful views of Robson and its encircling glaciers, with Mount
Resplendant, the Dome and the Helmet, Whitehorn Peak off to the right,
Rearguard immediately over Berg Lake, Ptarmigan Peak to our left, and
Mount Mumm, named after the well-known English Alpine climber, behind
us; surely an unrivalled collection of gigantic ice-crowned peaks,
encircling one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. A few days
before two members of the Alpine Club with the Swiss guide Konrad Kain
had climbed to the summit of Robson, and while we were in camp another
party came down, unsuccessful, after three days spent on the peak.
They had been driven back when within a few hundred feet of the summit
by a dangerous snow storm. After the sun went down we walked over to
the big camp-fire of the Alpine Club, and listened to the climbing
experiences of the mountaineers, regretting that our plans would not
permit us to join one of the parties in an attack on one of the less
formidable peaks.

Through the good offices of the Superintendent of Jasper Park, we had
been fortunate enough to secure the services of Fred Stephens to take
us through the Moose River country. So much has been said about
guides, that it may not be amiss to explain, for the benefit of those
who are not familiar with the Canadian Rockies, that there are two
quite distinct classes of mountain guides, one possessing special
knowledge of the high peaks and how to get up them, the other knowing
like a book the intricate wilderness that lies about their feet. The
climbing guides are Swiss, trained in the Alps. Two or three of them
were engaged by the Canadian Pacific Railway some years ago, when
mountain climbers first began to realise the splendid possibilities of
the country about Laggan, Field and Glacier. The guides spent the
summer in the Rockies, and returned to Switzerland for the winter.
Since then the number has steadily increased, and now many of the
Swiss guides have settled permanently in the Canadian Alps, which are
now rapidly becoming popular as a winter as well as a summer
resort.

The trail guides are an entirely different class of men. They belong
to the west, have been trained there, and know its ways. Some of them
have been trappers or traders, many are hunters, and not a few have
been cowboys, or miners. All know the mountains and the mountain
trails, and most of them are good companions either in camp or on the
trail, quietly competent when work is to be done, resourceful in the
innumerable emergencies of mountain travel, and a fountain of shrewd
wisdom and anecdote around the camp fire. And of all trail guides in
the Canadian Rockies none is the superior of Fred Stephens, whether as
guide, philosopher or comrade. We who had heard his praises sung by
others, congratulated ourselves when we learned that he was to take us
through the Moose River country.

Early next morning we were up and doing. Breakfast was despatched, the
tents struck, the horses driven in to camp, packs made up and securely
fastened to the backs of the pack-horses by means of the famous
diamond hitch, our own ponies saddled, and we were off for Moose Pass,
waving a reluctant farewell to our hosts of the Alpine Club as we
trotted through the camp--a tent city gay with bunting, and instinct
with the wholesome enthusiasm, good-fellowship, and hospitality of the
mountaineers.

As we crossed the slight ridge at the foot of Robson Glacier, which at
this point forms the continental divide, we paused to study for a
moment the curious family history of two great water systems, born in
the same glacier. From two blue ice caves in the Robson Glacier, one
on either side of the ridge of the terminal moraine, flow two
sparkling streams. One flows southwest into Berg Lake, the Grand Fork,
the Fraser, and the Pacific Ocean; the other flows northeast into Lake
Adolphus, the Smoky, Peace River, Slave River, Great Slave Lake, the
Mackenzie, and the Arctic Ocean. Turning our backs on the Berg Lake
tributary, after wishing it a pleasant journey to the Pacific, we
followed its brother down to Lake Adolphus and for some miles beyond,
when we turned east up Calumet Creek toward Moose Pass.

Near the summit of the pass we found ourselves in the midst of one of
the most exquisite of Alpine meadows. Imagine a great bowl of dark
rock relieved here and there with patches of fresh snow, and at the
foot of this bowl a soft emerald carpet, the green almost hidden by
glowing patches of flowers, asters and arbutus and harebell, purple
and white heather, lady's tresses and columbine, moss campion, the
twin flower and the forget-me-not. Think of it, you who treasure a
little patch of forget-me-nots in your garden, think of walking your
horse reverently through an acre of forget-me-nots, growing so thickly
that the blue of them could be seen long before one reached the place
where they grew, so thickly that one was compelled to the sacrilege of
treading down thousands of blossoms as we crossed the meadow. In
honour of the lady of our party, whom we believed to be the first
white woman to pass this way, we named this beautiful spot Merwin
Meadow.

Before we leave the meadow, listen for a moment to a writer who
combines the imagination of a poet with the exact knowledge of a
scientist, Dr. A. P. Coleman:

"If one halts by chance anywhere on a mountain pass, all sorts of
thrilling things are going on around. Lovely flowers are opening
eagerly to the sun and wind of Spring--in mid-August, with September's
snows just at hand, a whole year's work of blossom and seed to be
accomplished before the ten months' winter sleep begins. Bees are
tumbling over them intoxicated with honey and the joy of life while it
is summer. Even the humming-birds, with jewels on their breast as if
straight from the tropics, are not afraid to skim up the mountain
sides, poise over a bunch of white heather, and pass with a flash from
flower to flower. The marmots with aldermanic vests are whistling and
'making hay while the sun shines,' and one may see their bundles of
choice herbs spread on a flat stone to dry, while the little striped
gophers are busy too. Time enough to rest in the winter.

"Everything full of bustle and haste and of joy, what could be more
inspiring than the flowery meadows above tree-line when the warm sun
shines in the six weeks of summer! The full splendour and ecstasy of a
whole year's life piled into six weeks after snow has thawed and
before it falls again!

"Higher up even the snow itself is alive with the red snow plant and
the black glacier flea, like the rest of the world making the most of
summer; and as you take your way across the snow to the mountain top,
what a wonderful world opens out! How strangely the world has been
built, bed after bed of limestone or slate or quartzite, pale grey or
pale green or dark red or purple, built into cathedrals or castles,
or crumpled like coloured cloths from the rag-bag, squeezed together
into arches and troughs, into V's and S's and M's ten miles long and
two miles high; or else sheets of rock twenty thousand feet thick have
been sliced into blocks and tilted up to play leapfrog with one
another.

"And then the sculpturing that is going on! One is right in the midst
of the workshop bustle where mountains are being carved into
pinnacles, magnificent cathedral doors that never open, towers that
never had a keeper--all being shaped before one's eyes of the mighty
beds and blocks of limestone and quartzite that were once the sea
bottom. You can watch the tools at work, the chisel and gouge, the
file and the sandpaper. All the workmen are hard at it this spring
morning in August; the quarryman Frost has been busy over night, as
you hear from the thunder of big blocks quarried from the cliffs
across the valley; there is a dazzling gleam on the moist, polished
rocks which Craftsman Glacier has just handed over to the daylight;
and you can watch how recklessly the waterfall is cutting its way
down, slicing the great banks of rock with canyons! It is inspiring to
visit the mountains any day in the year, but especially so in the July
or August springtime, when a fresh start is made, and plants,
animals, patient glaciers, hustling torrents, roaring rivers, shining
lakes are all hard at work rough-hewing or putting finishing touches
on an ever new world."

We tried to keep our minds on such thoughts as these, as we left the
meadow behind and crossed a ridge of most abominably sharp scree, hard
on our feet and footwear as we trudged sulkily through it, and still
harder on the unshod horses who followed patiently after. The ridge
led to a long slope down the British Columbia side of the pass--for
between the foot of Robson Glacier and Moose Pass we had crossed a
wedge of Alberta--and then mile upon mile of muskeg, where as we
floundered slowly ahead we alternately admired Fred Stephens' unerring
skill in following a trail that only became faintly visible for a foot
or two every three or four hundred yards, and damned him heartily for
leading us into such a slough of despond. However, even the worst
muskeg must have an end, and at last we and our weary horses pulled
out on the other side, trotted happily through a bit of virgin forest,
and cheered the guide when he pointed ahead to our camping ground, an
ideal spot in a clearing beside the East Branch of the Moose River.
We had made twenty miles from Berg Lake, pretty good going in such a
country, a third of the journey being through heavy muskeg; and our
second meal that day was at seven in the evening. Fred Stephens is
without a peer as a guide, but he would never qualify as instructor in
a cooking school. Nevertheless his bannocks that night seemed to us
the very food of the gods. It may have been because he made them in a
gold pan, or it may have been the dry humour of his stories, or
perhaps it was the fact that breakfast seemed so remote that we had
forgotten the existence of such a meal, but the fact remains that that
luncheon-supper of bannocks and bacon left us at peace with the world.

Behind the camp rose an attractive little mountain offering some
rather interesting rock climbing, and one of us made up his mind to
have a try at it the following morning before breakfast. He managed to
get into his clothes without disturbing the rest of the party, and
pocketing a cold bannock started off for the mountain. The first
obstacle appeared in the shape of a lively branch of the Moose, which
had not been noticed the night before. A rapid survey up and down
stream revealed no means of getting across dry, and there was nothing
for it but to plunge in and wade across. It was waist deep in
midstream, and the water was not only wet but most exceedingly cold.
However, there was exercise enough ahead to overcome the chill of the
reception.

A long scramble up a slope covered with closely matted bushes led at
last to the rocks, and the rocks to a series of ledges. Being a
novice, the climber lost much time in searching for practicable routes
to the summit, and in an attempt to get up a chimney sent down such an
avalanche of rock that the camp was aroused and began to contemplate a
searching expedition for the remains of a fool climber. However, fate
had some other end in view, and the climber went on his way. A steep
slope of very fine, loose shale ending in a sheer drop of some hundred
feet finally brought him to a standstill. He had little more than an
hour to get back to camp, and it would take all of that to find
another way up to the summit. That little mountain remained
unconquered. He scrambled down to a draw between the hills, crossed a
snow patch, swung down a long slope, plunged through the uninviting
creek, and was back in time to find the party packed and ready to
march.

Our way lay down the East Branch, partly over a fairly good trail,
partly through a repetition of yesterday's muskeg. One of the
pack-horses took it into his head to do pioneer work in opening up new
trails through the bush, and was sent in disgrace to the rear of the
string where the guide's helper could keep a watchful eye on him. The
helper was a plucky but inexperienced little chap, and his limited
vocabulary filled the pack-horses with contempt. Throughout that day
we who were ahead with the guide could hear every little while far in
the rear the faint cry, "Buckskin! Oh, Bu-u-ck-skin!" Finally the cry
changed to, "O Fred! Pack's off!" and the philosophic guide cantered
back to bring pack and pack-horse together again. Nothing could
possibly look more meek and inoffensive than the mild-eyed Buckskin
when he marched into camp that night, but he had given more trouble
than the rest of the thirteen horses combined. He probably said to
himself that he was a horse ahead of his generation, and that pioneers
were generally misunderstood.

We camped on the West Branch of the Moose, about a mile above its
junction with the East Branch, having again made twenty miles from our
last camp. Once more we camped by the river's side, with a fine range
of mountains opposite, and a splendid view of the Reef Glaciers at the
head of the valley. Resplendent and Robson were off to the west, but
hidden behind intervening ridges. We had been hoping all day to see
mountain goat, but found nothing but a wisp of wool on a bush above a
salt lick.

The following morning we started down the Moose, with a succession of
beautiful views up and down the valley. A deep creek which had been
roughly bridged with logs gave us some trouble. One of the
pack-horses--not the unfortunate Buckskin--went through, and it needed
the united exertions of four men to get him out. The other horses, who
had seen the accident and were still on the wrong side of the stream,
refused to have anything to do with the bridge, and even after we had
repaired it they were only with the utmost difficulty coaxed across
one at a time.

Finally we topped the last ridge, and looked down into the valley of
the Fraser. The railway track, looking like a thread in the distance,
seemed utterly unfamiliar after our few days on the trail. We had made
a wide circle around Robson, starting from Robson station, and
coming back to the railway at what was known to the construction
gangs as "Mile 17." We had supper in Reading's Camp, near the mouth of
Grant Brook, and took the eastbound train back to Jasper.

A day or two later we turned our faces toward the east, leaving behind
more than one friend that we had learned to know and appreciate in the
simple, human life of trail and camp-fire; and carrying with us eternal
memories of this region of glorious mountains and pine-scented
valleys, lakes of turquoise and emerald, rushing crystal streams,
waterfalls innumerable, glaciers and snow-fields, rugged cliffs and
green-clad slopes, rock-strewn ridges and flower-bedecked meadows, and
of the marvellously clear and intoxicating air of the mountains
lifting the soul out of the mire and attuning it to a purer and more
noble outlook. We had had glimpses of these wonderlands of the
Canadian West, and we were resolved that another day should see our
footsteps once more turned toward the beckoning hills.

To-day, with the "storm-winds of autumn" rushing by from the east, we
feel like saying, with Matthew Arnold:

    "Ye are bound for the mountains--
    Ah, with you let me go
    Where your cold distant barrier,
    The vast range of snow,
    Through the loose clouds lift dimly
    Its white peaks in air--
    How deep is their stillness!
    Ah, would I were there!"

[Illustration: MOUNT ROBSON FROM THE NORTHEAST. _R. C. W. Lett_]

[Illustration: MOOSE RIVER FALLS. _R. C. W. Lett_]

[Illustration: SWIMMING THE ATHABASKA. _R. C. W. Lett_]

[Illustration: MAKING CAMP. _R. C. W. Lett_]



BIBLIOGRAPHY


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Canadian Rocky Mountains. 1907.

COLEMAN, A. P. The Canadian Rockies. 1912.

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Thompson, 1799-1814. 1897.

COX, ROSS. Adventures on the Columbia River. 1831.

DAWSON, GEORGE M. The Canadian Rocky Mountains. 1886.

DAWSON, GEORGE M. Exploration from Fort Simpson to Edmonton. In
Geological Survey of Canada Report, 1879-80.

DE SMET, PIERRE JEAN. Oregon Missions and Travels over the Rock
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ERMATINGER, EDWARD. York Factory Express. In Transactions Royal
Society of Canada, 1912.

FAY, CHARLES E. Rocky Mountains of Canada. Alpina Americana, No. 2
(1911).

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New Westminster. 1884.

FOOTNER, HULBERT. New Rivers of the North. 1912.

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America in the years 1811-1814. 1854.

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Nord-ouest. 1889.

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OUTRAM, JAMES. In the Heart of the Canadian Rockies. 1905.

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SCHAFFER, MARY T. S. Old Indian Trails. 1911.

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SELWYN, ALFRED R. C. Preliminary Exploration in British Columbia. In
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Years 1841 and 1842. 1847.

SOUTHESK, EARL OF. Saskatchewan and the Rocky Mountains. 1875.

STUTFIELD, H. E. M. and COLLIE, J. N. Climbs and Explorations in the
Canadian Rockies. 1903.

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WASHBURN, STANLEY. Trails, Trappers and Tender-feet in Western Canada.
1912.

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WILCOX, W. D. Camping in the Canadian Rockies. 1896.

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    Reference may also be made to the _Canadian Alpine Journal_ and
    _Appalachia_ containing many important articles on
    mountain-climbing in the Rockies and Selkirks, the geology, fauna
    and flora of the region, etc.; also to the Annual Reports of the
    Commissioner of Dominion Parks.



MAPS


[Illustration: MAP OF ROCKY MOUNTAINS PARK. --Banff Section--]

[Illustration: MAP OF ROCKY MOUNTAINS PARK. --Lake Louise Section--]

[Illustration: MAP OF YOHO PARK]

[Illustration: JASPER PARK]

[Illustration: MAP OF GLACIER PARK]

[Illustration: ROBSON PARK. British Columbia]



Transcriber's Note:


     * Obvious punctuation and spelling errors repaired.

     * Several compound words had dual spellings: They were changed
     to the predominant form as follows:
          campfire      =====>     camp-fire    (p. 213)
          châlet        =====>     chalet       (p. 87 (twice))
          foot-holds    =====>     footholds    (pp. 206, 207)
          foot-hills    =====>     foothills    (p. 208)
          hand-holds    =====>     handholds    (p. 207)
          head-waters   =====>     headwaters   (p. 76)
          hill-side     =====>     hillside     (pp. 186, 255)
          north-east    =====>     northeast    (p. 53)
          north-west    =====>     northwest    (pp. 53 (twice), 59)
          south-east    =====>     southeast    (p. 59)
          south-west    =====>     southwest    (p. 104)
          spellbound    =====>     spell-bound  (p. 176)
          water-fall    =====>     waterfall    (p 270, twice)
          wildflowers   =====>     wild-flowers (p. 55)

     * Other changes:

          Hasler        =====>    Häsler        (pp. 138, 139)
          Schäffer      =====>    Schaffer      (pp. 26, 187)

          Repeated chapter titles have been removed.





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