Today, September 11th, a day that started out with a beautiful blue sky, we are headed back to the mountains. It has been an incredible Journey. We have traveled over flat land, rolling hills, and mountains. And every mountain is different. I’m sure I have a picture of them all!
We went through the Canadian badlands, which aren’t that much different from the South Dakota badlands, although I think there is more color in the SD badlands! We crossed or drove beside creeks, streams, rivers, tailing ponds, lakes, and muskeg (wetlands). We journeyed in the boreal forest, where some stretches seemed miles in width, and other areas had been cleared for farming, or roads or mining. We saw horse ranches, cattle farms, grain farms, burnt forest, clear-cut forest, mine fields.
Our main journey was to follow the Athabasca River. So we started where it starts, as a tongue of the Columbian ice fields (glacier). Then we caught it as a little stream coming out of the mountains. Clear, cold, with a greenish tint to it. We saw where it had cut through rock to form falls. We followed it and watched the rapids form and how the river grew in size. As we traveled north, we were not able to stay beside it. When we were able to get close to it again, it was frothy and dirty.
When we reached Ft. MacKay, we visited a Cree woman. She has grown up beside the river, and in her younger days they would carry water to their home for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and washing. They would fish in the river. Now, they have been told not to drink the water or fish. The water is too toxic.
Earlier in our journey we came upon a Cree saying. I am paraphrasing:
Only when all the trees in the forest are gone,
When all the fish have died,
When all the waters have been poisoned,
Only then will you know, you cannot eat money.
It stays with me as I see what has happened to a small First Nation reserve.