Thursday, September 17, 2015

Yukon Two

Saturday morning.
Arj got up early and made us breakfast; bacon, eggs, fried potatoes and baked beans. Then he watched the Liverpool vs Man Utd game while Karm and I went for a hike.

We drove to the summit..

Which is above the tree-line.

Her plan was for us to hike up in the mountain tops in order to take in the sweeping vistas of the valleys below.

But there was so much water at the base of the mountain (streams like the one below as well as ones much wider and deeper, criss crossing the landscape) that we gave up that idea.

... And decided we'd walk around Three Guardsmen Lake instead...

Ha ha.
The terrain was not hiker friendly.

Long, tall grasses and soggy soil.

And not a path in sight.

So we aborted that mission, and drove to a lookout area, where we parked, then walked towards a cliff that overlooked a gorge.

Instead of looking up at epic vistas, we ended up looking down.
And we both were in awe of the colours at our feet.

Nothing tall grows in the land this high up and this far north. But many small things grow here.

Many soft, colourful, amazing things grow close to the ground.
And this?
This white plant, that from afar looks like a patch of snow?
Was a moss. That was thick. And sponge like. And rubbery in texture.

And every step felt like we were walking across a comfortable mattress.

And maybe because I'm in book 6 of the Outlander series, and often find myself immersed in the land and time of Jamie and Claire, that I felt especially attached to them here, in this place. When they lie down in the heather for night, or when they find a mossy spot to rest - I TOTALLY GET IT NOW.

I think the ground up here would likely be OK to sleep on. It was just that bouncy.

I am thankful that Karm didn't give in to her curiosity and eat these berries (below) on my watch.

Patches of colour everywhere.

As well as the odd mushroom.
They grow em big up here.

I could not stop taking pics of the ground.
My feet:

Karm's feet:

Karm's foot.
And a mushroom.

We got to the edge of the cliff.
She is adventurous and wanted to hike down to a shelf below.
I didn't trust my balance, so I opted not to.

We stood side-by-side, enjoying the view, and feeling awfully small, in the scope of things.

We considered just sitting down for awhile, and not do anything. Just be.

But then another thing caught our eye, and we kept moving.

It was while we were looking at the pass on the other side of the gorge, that she thought I should know where she kept the bear spray.
So she pulled it out of the very front pocket of her back pack.

She gave me an impromptu lesson, there on the edge of the cliff.
Her: Here. You pull this tab off.
Her: Then extend your arm out, aiming for the bear's face.
(She extends her arm out over the canyon.)
Her: Then spray like this.
(And she pressed the nozzle down for a millisecond, releasing a cloud of orange.)
(Which the wind blew right back at us.)

(Bear spray in the face.)

My eyeballs melted.
My nostrils caught on fire.
My lungs stopped working.
My lips got tingly.
My throat closed up,

I was dying.
No seriously.
I was on my way to meet my maker.

Oh my goodness.
I was an absolute mess.

Finally I took out my water bottle and soaked the tissue I had in my pocket then washed out my eyes.
Oh the burning.
I was certain I'd never see again.

Karm captured my face washing moment.

(Just so that you know I'm not exaggerating... I looked up bear spray potency when I got back to their place:

There is a measuring item called SHU's (Scoville Heat Units) that is used to gauge the intensity of different items/products. It is the reaction of the item to the skin that is being measured here. 

A Jalapeno pepper is rated at 7,500 SHU. 
Pepper spray is rated at 25,000 SHU. 
Bear repellant is rated at 2,000,000 SHU ( that is two million).

I wasn't being a baby.

Anyway, if I'm blogging about it, I obviously survived.
But boy, do I ever have compassion for bears who are minding their own business, in their own habitat, who get sprayed in the face with a full blast of orange.

Once my vision cleared, I was back to looking down:

After a couple hours we hopped back into her Completely-Appropriate-Vehicle-For-The-North sports car and drove up to the official summit....

... and took some pics of the residents in the area:

We ended up back at their place for a late lunch (leftover pizza and salads).
This is Karm having a bit of facetime with her grand-daughter in Regina.
Her voice is much higher when she talks to someone 5 months old...

The two of them left to protect our border, and I sat on their couch, held the remote and watched TV for the first time in 3 months.

It was a glorious Saturday night.

In case you're wondering, the border crossing that they guard is in the middle of no where. They live in the housing provided for them which is located right beside the office they work in.

The closest town is over an hour away, in the states. (Haines, Alaska).
The nearest 'big' city is three hours away. (Whitehorse, Yukon)

Eight people live at the border.
There is NOTHING for miles and miles and miles and miles.

And yet, while I sat there, in their living room, that Saturday night, this was what went past the front window:

There is a construction crew living and working at the same remote location, cleaning up an old diesel spill and preparing the site for a new building. Those guys (and one woman) work weird hours.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. The bear spray didn't kill me.
2, That God created the north. Seriously stunning.
3. Generous, hospitable friends.


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