This weekend I transited Rogers Pass yet again. It has to be my favourite for scenery and sheer, massive, geological wonder. When you get to the section that still shows evidence of an inland sea being pushed up into folds of mountain peaks it’s downright overwhelming. This trip I even saw a couple of rather large caves way up in the rock faces just before and after Sunshine.
Every time I make this trip, however, I can’t help but reflect, in awe, of those early few settlers who had tackled this pass after surviving a brutal winter in the prairies. They’d been waiting for the mountain passes to open in the spring, so they could continue their journey westward. The river valley that extends west from the foothills near Calgary probably seemed fairly manageable in the first blush of spring but the further west they went, the tougher and steeper the terrain, the rougher the icy rivers breaking up in spring thaw.
Next time, if you are so fortunate that you make this trip, try to look past the engineering marvels of the transcontinental railway and the Trans Canada Highway that we so take for granted, to the steep rock faces and cliffs that slope down to glacier fed rivers. Do you think you could have made that journey? Most likely on foot unless you could afford a horse or a mule and they had survived the prairie winter. With wolves year round and hungry bear just emerging from hibernation in the spring. If your wife or husband had survived with you, perhaps there was an infant in tow. And of course all your worldly goods with which you hoped to build a cabin and start a new life in the Canadian West.