I recently discovered that December 11 was designated by the United Nations to be International Mountain Day. Mountains are certainly an attraction to me, it is the main reason I live where I do. It gives me daily pleasure to watch the sun, moon, and weather change the views of the mountains that surround the Robson Valley.
To celebrate the day, I decided to dig through my box of old slides to find a photo I took way back in 1978, which was the first winter after we had bought our property McBride. It has always been one of my best photos of Mount Robson, (the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies), and my favorite mountain.
I remember the circumstances of taking the photo well. We were just returning from a Christmas trip to Indiana. The day before we had driven from Billings, Montana, and after driving all day, we reached Jasper, Alberta, which was the last town before the 100 mile drive to our home in McBride. It was around 10:00 P.M. on the night of New Year’s Day.
It was very cold, crisp, and clear, and we could see a million stars twinkling in the frigid sky. We were eager to get back to our house, but there was a problem, our gas tank was near empty, and to our dismay we discovered that all of the gas stations in Jasper were closed.
We were young and foolish, but luckily prepared, so we got our down sleeping bags out, made room in the back of our International Scout, then snuggled together to spend the night in the car. The temperature was -20F (-29C), and when we woke up the next morning, there was frost on our sleeping bags from our breath. Luckily our car started on the first try, but the accelerator pedal stuck, so I turned off the car, then couldn’t get it started again, and had to get someone to give me a jump with jumper cables to get it restarted.
We filled up with gas and headed west for our drive to McBride. When we passed Mount Robson, the sun was shining on its face, but the valley below it was bathed in blue, still shaded by the mountains around it. That is when I took the photo.
Taking the photo of Robson was not the only big event of the day. When we got back home we discovered that everything had frozen (we only had wood heat at the time). Our toilet tank had frozen and cracked, and we had no water. After a visit to the Post Office to get our mail, I discovered that I had won top prize in the Harrowsmith Magazine’s photo contest and was being sent a Nikon camera. All in all, it was quite a day.
My paintings can be viewed at: www.davidmarchant.ca