Automated lighted signs along the road in Banff National Forest announce wildlife on the road ahead-yet it is empty quiet, in places where years ago the road teemed with antelope, elk, moose, big horned sheep, and bison. “Wolves on the road” we read with quickening heart….yet as night approaches and we wind through the mountains peering into the dense forest growth…we see and hear no one. “Moose crossing ahead”…..no.
In conversations with others, we find out that sightings are few, yet signs remain in place to save a shrinking wildlife population from becoming road kill. So these are hopeful signs, not necessarily signs based on reality?
I hike around iridescent Moraine Lake, fed by a dwindling glacier. A woman I meet on the trail says the ranger told her sometime between 2016 and 2020, scientists forecast the glaciers will be no more. Nonexistent. Part of the history of life on planet Earth.
As we leave Banff heading east toward Calgary, the road flattens out and the Rockies become obscured in the rear view by a creeping yellow haze of human civilization.
The park’s radical beauty had brought me to my knees in appreciation and grief for the animals, the melting glaciers, and ultimately for life as I had dreamed and imagined since very small.
Calgary radiates and buzzes down the road… rows and rows of clumsy brown boxlike houses on every hill and flatland space… Gray roads… lines of lights held at least 50 feet aloft by slender silver curves of metal… hills of boxes peering across the highway and power lines at other hills of boxes… lines feeding lights on high and inside brown boxes… sucking the mountains dry.