John & Anne Wiley

2012/09/22

Fire & Ice

The relatively short “dogleg” of our AB Joy return flight from Banff to Invermere provided some contrasts. First, in the clearer air where it had recently rained the remains of a glacier beckoned in the distance. I was tempted to divert a little closer when this scene came into view.

2837 Glacier Apparition

2837 Glacier Apparition

When we were closer as we passed, I snapped a two-pic closeup with zoom to study the interplay of ice and stone.

2843 Left Flank

2843 Left Flank

2844 Right Flank

2844 Right Flank

Later as smoke was once again building in the air I caught this mixture of mountains, ribbons of rain, and streams of sunlight that creates a matrix still refreshing for me all these miles and moments later.

2877 Matrix

2877 Matrix

As we rounded a sharp bend in the valley, suddenly it was apparent why the smoke had been increasing. This fresh fire was still burning unperturbed, though I’d heard another pilot radio in a report on it.

2890 Smoke Source

2890 Smoke Source

We landed for a rest at Invermere, and invested considerable time trying to decide whether to look for a room there or fly more miles over this now familiar territory toward the border before dark. As you may recall from my first post about this day, we did decide to continue. Just as I went out to fuel Tripp and get ready, one of the several helicopters parked there took off to head back toward the fire.

2955 Dangerous Mission

2955 Dangerous Mission

Now maybe it’s my age, but even though I greatly respect and appreciate the pilots who do it, the idea of flying low over a fire in a helicopter holds no appeal. An aside: Being a 172Q, Tripp is the perfect plane for our mission: happy to fly relatively low and slow but still able to go over 140mph when you want or need to; ability to carry lots of gear, fuel, and four real adults; relatively inexpensive to own and operate (about 2x our car); great view of the planet; extremely safe, simple, and easy to fly; reliable and easy to repair aided by the fact that every aircraft mechanic has worked on them and parts are plentiful; and a great umbrella on the ground for shade and shelter. All that said, the one aircraft I’d love to own is a helicopter. Not because it’s pretty much the opposite in all those categories, but because it can fly even lower and slower plus hover and (with inflatable pontoons) land most anywhere there’s a small clearing or pond. But unlike Tripp, you can’t ever fully relax and enjoy the view.

So in the next post I’ll share more pix from this magical and relaxing voyage. 🙂

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