Jasper Park may be the 10th largest park in Canada, but all of the more sprawling parks are located further north in the almost inaccessible tundra and Arctic wildernesses. Jasper is stuffed within the 3000-mile-long range of the Rocky Mountains. Time passes unnoticed here, but space squeezed between giant trees, boulders and glaciers is everything.
Jasper is big; the biggest of all Rocky Mountain parks, encompassing more than 4,000 square miles. This park hosts as many as 100 grizzly bears, 70 black bears, 60 wolves, 125 woodland caribou, 550 elk, and 180 moose (according to 2016 counts). This area is not to be mixed up with the smaller Banff wilderness located almost 200 miles further south.
Mount Edith Cavell (the Mountain of the Great Crossing), located in the Athabasca River and Astoria River valleys of Jasper, is more than 11,000 feet tall and apparently the most prominent peak entirely within Alberta. When I arrived in October 2016, the paved road to Angel Glacier's melt pool was blocked, so I bypassed the barrier and hiked on pavement for miles up the pass to the base of this mighty mountain. Other tourists, observing my indiscretion (which it wasn't really), ducked under the gate and joined the walk toward the sunlight. Cold morning gradually gave way to warm sunshine piercing the high altitude haze and frost.
In nature, the science nerd meets the theologian on a level playing field. Both practitioners together find themselves gasping for air as they hike the ascending mountain and forest trails of western Canada. Mystical and rational theories aside, reality requires attention to the angle of the climb and signs of bears.
Rene Descartes suggested that "mysticism" is allowable because part of existence is ineffable. Along that line, the logician, Kurt Godel, stunned modern mathematicians with his "incompleteness" theorem and proof, which disqualified that discipline from establishing a theory of everything -- because of mathematics' absolute reliance on "infinities". And so even the great pillar of science - mathematics - cannot penetrate all the way. With uncertainty, we cultivate our planet's gardens incompletely and to the best of our ability. Theories aside, we humans take care of our immediate bodily and psychological demands and have to preserve our planet. The infinite will have to wait
An early morning visit to a discretely placed defrosting lake and the subsequent easy road trek allowed for the soaring thoughts, mentioned above, about the nature and nurture of nature. The road, lined with conifers, already penetrates the woods, tinged in late autumn color. No trailblazing is called for.
The looming mountain and its hanging glacier (Angel) slowly claimed the stage, robbing the sun of its star power.