Saturday, December 17, 2011

Morning After Darkness

The dogs were barking and howling with a deafening cacophony in excited anticipation of getting underway. My new friend Holly, anxiously held on to the lead dogs, while the team yipped, yowled, and yanked on their harnesses, desperate for the sled to be untied and their pent-up energy uncorked. I had arrived a short time earlier, while driving the road from Lake Louise village up to the lake. I had been hoping that I would find dog-sledding while out this way, and had pulled my truck in to the turn-out feeling very pleased with myself.

Much earlier, I had left home in the pre-dawn darkness with twinkling stars overhead, visible from my drive-way in Calgary. This made me smile, as normally the light polluted skies of the city tend to wash out all but the brightest stars. With sunrise arriving at around 8:00am I enjoy this time of year,as it allows me to do some early morning stargazing. Earlier in the week, the waning Moon had provided a lovely scene against the backdrop of Venus, Saturn and the bright star Spica. Being that I am a morning person with an interest in astronomy, this had been a excellent week for me. You still have time to get out your binoculars for a superb view of Venus and Saturn in the south-eastern sky. Do this in the pre-dawn darkness, and you will start your day in a wondrous fashion, that will leave you in awe of this place where we live, called Earth! So do yourself a favour, and take in a few minutes of beauty about an hour before sunrise, you'll thank me for it.

As I drove west towards the Rockies, I could not keep from smiling from time to time, as I had turned off all of the instrument panel lights, and the closer I got to the Rockies, the more stunning the mountains looked in the pre-dawn darkness, with the breaking dawn slowly defining them from the first grey light, and then blue light. As I made the turn off of highway 1 on to the parkway, the temperature continued to drop with the temperature hovering at -19 Celsius as I neared Castle Mountain junction. Several times, I had pulled over to shoot photos, and was pleased that I had layered up with fleece to keep warm while chasing the light some distance from my truck. Mind you, I managed to leave my over-mitts behind in the truck, while set up with my camera and tripod some distance from the warmth of my truck, and wearing only my fleece inner gloves, I was glad for the warmth of the cab, once I continued my drive west on the parkway.

Once I reached Lake Louise, I had been tempted to stop for a cup of tea and something to eat, but with the light changing up quickly, I pushed on for the top. The early morning light was proving to be wonderful, causing feelings of awe to course through me, something that I have experienced on many a morning, when the light changes from darkness to early morning light.
It was near the top that I chanced upon Kingmik-Dog-Sled-Tours and Megan Routley who along with Holly, were rushing about, hitching excited dogs to sleds, before heading out into the back-country on the Great-Divide-Tour, consisting of a 16 kilometer run to the Continental Divide between Banff and Yoho National Parks. Megan proved to be very interesting, as well as very experienced with dogs, and a competitor in sled-dog racing. Before long, with excited guests loaded in the sleds, the dogs were turned loose, and they set off down the trail, straining in their harnesses against the weight of the sled, and before long disappearing from view around a bend in the trail. With my time done, I also headed down the trail to home, vowing to return soon to the wonders of morning after darkness.

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