For a while now I have been trying to figure out how to follow on from my previous post about our awe-inspiring trip to Semaphore Lakes, “British Columbia’s Sky is Alive”. I have been living in British Columbia for almost eight years now and this adventure is, without a doubt, a standout highlight.
In recent weeks the Sea to Sky area has lived up to the West Coast promise of lots of precipitation. It felt like a whole years worth of rain plummeted to earth in just a few days. This weather found me inside quite a lot and on a rainy day I am quite partial to a bit of a stumble (Stumble Upon). It was somewhere during this time that I stumbled upon an incredible quote.
Aldous Huxley said, in “Variations on a Philosopher” from “Themes and Variations” (1950), “Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted”.
This quote got me thinking. As one of these “human beings” that Huxley was talking about I am most definitely prone to taking a lot of things for granted. One that comes to mind is that I had a roof over my head, with internet access while the rain was pouring giving me the ability to stumble upon such a quote.
The vast majority of the time we have no idea that we are taking things for granted. It just happens time and time again and we carry on, not giving it even a first thought.
These issues are a major part of why I love getting out in to the mountains. Out and about in these towering mounds of earth it is impossible not to be overwhelmed by the enormity and virtually surreal beauty of this planet.
Semaphore Lakes is one of the places where this beauty is all encompassing. The first hour or so of the trek is a bit of a grind up a steep path surrounded by trees. From time to time glimpses of potential vistas and scenery gives a hiker hope for the reward on offer at the end of the trail.
Eventually the forest opens up and the vistas do not disappoint. The final 30 minutes to our campsite was a 360 panoramic view of alpine peaks, glaciers and lakes.
It was somewhere during this period that we joked how amazing it would if the Northern Lights gave us a show that night. “What are the odds?” we quipped and promptly forgot about that and went about setting up camping, cooking dinner and enjoying some glacially cooled beers and ciders.
Even here, in the midst of this incredible range, we take Huxley’s quote on board. Our simple & very easy to use cooking equipment, our quick and easy meals brought from home, our down jackets, our cans of beer & cider, our rain-proof tents,
the list could go on. Sometimes it takes something pretty special to bring one back down to earth.
This happened for us that night. Of course I am talking about an incredible Aurora Borealis light show that my efforts at capturing on camera don’t even come close to doing justice.
I was already marveling at the sensationally starry sky and miraculous Milky Way. It seemed as though the sky couldn’t fit another twinkling dot in anywhere.
As I stumbled through the dark after staring south I looked up and saw this, weird, strange and unearthly looking white cloud on the northern horizon.
I rushed back to my camp mates and pointed it out. They dismissed me and continued playing Yahtzee looking down at the dots on the dice instead of up at the dots in the dark velvet sky.
Then, almost as quick as lightening, the sky came alive and began to dance. It’s hard to find words to describe it. It was pulsating across the sky flashing varying intensities of green, dazzling and transfixing me, and finally the rest of the group.
As we stood in awe watching the geomagnetic show before us, time just slipped away. What does it matter up there anyway? How can you keep track of something such as time when your watching a fish-bone-like cloud shower shimmering green flashes down upon the far away peaks?
It is in moments like these when it’s hard to take this planet for granted. Four people standing next to each other gazing north almost silent except for the overwhelmed sounds of wonder.