Imagine if, after gazing up the rocky slopes of a giant mountain in the Himalayas, one were to simply drive up the back way, park and walk the final few steps for that summit photo ( perhaps struggling into the correct clothing and oxygen mask, before exiting the van). Somehow the ecstasy of the moment would be severely lessened by the lack of agony involved in attaining that peak. A peak life experience indeed!
The other day, after a year of photographing Mt. Maxwell , the highest hump on our island, from below, in all weathers and from many angles ( I am working on a version of Hokusai`s 'Thirty-six views of Mt. Fuji') I simply drove up the gently sloping north face to the provincial park at the summit: only a ten minute drive from the bottom, the gravel road in better shape than I had feared, tall firs, and, over the safety fence, a view of the Burgoyne valley and the mountains to the south. Ta Daa!
Fortunately this was not really such a let-down. My fascination for this mountain reaches back a long way to my Park Ranger days when it was my job to look after this eagle and raven haunted place and to visit it not only in the dry hot days of a busy summer but to check it out in the Fall and Spring when snow and gales were more likely and the great first- growth firs roared in the wind.I remember one lunch break when I dangled my feet over the cliff and munched my sandwiches while a raven rose on the up draught, growing slowly from a dot in the misty trees far below until he hovered without a wing-beat beside my shoulder looked questioningly at my meal: a raised eyebrow, "quonk?" and then he was up and off into the clouds sifting softly through the trees. To be spoken to in such a place, in such a direct manner, by Raven, that quintessential spirit of the natural world, made my ranger job so much more rewarding than my more mundane chores of cleaning up after the park`s human visitors could ever be.