Elk in the Northern Canadian Wilderness

I often listened to shortwave radio broadcasts on my two year tour..they were a great way to keep in touch with the world that I was immersed in so totally that I risked losing the larger picture amidst the rigors of daily riding. The contrasts were a source of amusement or solace. Amidst the solitude of central Argentina I might listen to a football broadcast from a seething UEFA cup match. In the crowded guesthouses of New Delhi I might hear folk music from a small town in Ontario.
One of these broadcasts announced that the United Nations had chosen Canada as the world #1 country to live in. Since I have cycled in Canada several times including this world tour, this conclusion didn't surprise me one bit.

Canada is Russia without the Russians...or more diplomatically, Russia without the communists. A vast, explored but underdeveloped country with vast mineral and natural resources. Forests that stretch for hundreds of thousands of square miles...rivers that, as in Siberia, flow north to the frozen arctic! Its people are conservationists--not environmentalists. They know the difference and distinguish between the two time and again. Most of all, the country and its people have a way of appreciating its beauty not just for its majesty, of which they have much; but for its simplicity and unspoiled innocence, of which it has even more.

Part of this innocence, a rather massive part in fact, was standing not very far off the roadside in Jasper national park. This large elk, in fact, had been in the road not long before, and wandered into the woods as I rode, slowly, down the hill where he was located. I doubt i would have approached this closely if there were not plenty of trees to dash behind in the event he charged; i doubt he would have allowed my approach, otherwise! I was impressed by the antlers; but even more so I was amazed at the size of the neck on these creatures.

Of course, Canada and Alaska really are the last great refuge, or frontier, of unspoiled wilderness that allows such magnificent wildlife not only to endure, but to thrive. Exactly how long this corner of the globe can survive given our rising population and need for natural resources is unclear. Certainly a major challenge over the next few centuries. Long after I am gone, I wonder if a cyclist or traveler in the millenial years of 2998-3000 will see the same world--this portion of it, amidst its furry and sweaty splendour-- as I have. 1