Nurture of Nature - Mount Edith Cavell


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