The Canadian Banff is beautiful but notoriously unpredictable. Much like a warrior goddess, its colorful but whimsical nature is bursting with boundless and mesmerizing energy. Merlin Monroe loved it, as one can spontaneously love a familiar stranger, carrying similar elements and an even stronger will. Filming at the Bow Falls, Merlin too was staying at the Springs Hotel, when she dislocated an ankle. Half a century later, there I was, nursing a swollen ankle 50 miles from the hotel … and with no entourage!
Day had started nice and sunny, inviting and promising, calling for an uninhibited embrace. I drove to the trail-head full of expectations and took the mountain’s “come on”; hook line and sinker! Trail was clean and clear, perfect for a brisk contemplative stroll. Lefroy’s crisp autumn breeze refreshed my lungs and the colorful foliage carpeted my every step. The morning dew was melting on the grass and the encapsulated aroma was rushing out, to meet the warm inviting rays. A gentle crackling of twigs underfoot was all that could disturb that perfect silence of the surround sound. Nothing could stop us now… cheek to cheek with the goddess Banff!
Two hours and a light lunch and then back with a camera full of memories - two and one and two equal five … or so I had planned. But it was already 15:00 with an hour of trail to go at normal speed. Except that nothing was normal, not to mention the unbearable pain. The wily Chinook wind had abruptly shifted at noon, leaving the wild arena to a cold front and its bounty of snow. First they came flake by flake, then in streams and streaks, and finally there simply stood a white wall.
Fumbling to follow the trail, my painful walk turned into a drunken zigzag. Those pants weren’t waterproof; shoes were filled with snow; gloves definitely too thin for the blizzard. Each step took more and more energy, and each breath became a nasty dose of the bitter cold. Not sure how long it was going to take; I started to panic – just imagining a night stay on the snowy mountain. Numbness was setting into my muscles and pain was drawing me closer to the fainting threshold. It was tempting to sit, to take a break, to relax and let go.
That’s when she suddenly came back with boundless forgiveness … the Chinook again! Gently grabbed hold of the snow and persuaded the cold blanket to lift. She unveiled the setting sun-god in all its glory, shining on Mount Lefroy – only 10 minutes from the tourist lodge. She whispered in my ears, from 1 Corinthians.
“Love is patient;
Love is kind;
Love is not envious or arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
It is not irritable or resentful;
It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things;
Believes all things;
Hopes all things:
Endures all things;
Love never ends.”
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