We often hear that the journey is as important as the destination. That adage proved itself truer than ever last week while driving from Calgary, Alberta to Fairmont Hot Springs, British Columbia and we killed the ignition for a spell at Marble Canyon. From the road, it’s as inauspicious as a regular rest stop, but walk a few feet down the path and it soon becomes clear there’s more to experience than a pit toilet.
Part of Kootenay National Park, Marble Canyon once lay under a kilometer (that’s 0.6 of a mile) of glacial ice. Thousands of years of melting and erosion have carved a narrow channel between the dramatic rock walls, a pipeline for the turquoise water of Tokkum Creek to barrel through and meet the Vermillion River at the bottom.
Not too far away, a new fossil find has paleontologists excited, and rightfully so. After the initial excavation, they estimated that 22 percent of the observed species were new to science, while others had only previously been seen in China’s multi-million-year-old Lagerstätte (how’s that for a cool word?).
On my walk, tree skeletons served as reminders of forest fires past, while new growth, shrubs and wildflowers peppered the landscape, reassurance of Earth’s regenerative powers. Giant slabs of petrified wood lined the path, their layers perfect and even, and the Canadian Rockies loomed. I couldn’t help but feel very, very small.
Have you ever found an unexpected gem like this in your travels?