Part XIII – Chapter 17 – 2018

Bertha Lake

Here we are with the same feature photo above that was used for Part I, Chapter 1.

I explained in that chapter that Charlie had insisted the novel should both start and end at Bertha Lake. And I’ve done as he wished.

Bertha is his favorite hike.

That hike holds both his happiest and his most horrific memories.

This photo is from the south end of the lake looking north.

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You may remember, though probably not, that Charlie also insisted the novel be divided into thirteen parts, starting with Part XIII, Chapter 1, and ending with Part XIII, Chapter 1. His reason for insisting on the number thirteen is explained in Post 11b.

Initially, I didn’t really see a problem with that, so I said Yes. I’d already said No to him about a number of other things.

But then I changed my mind. I’m still ending with Part XIII. I’m fine with that. However, I started with Part I.

And I’m not sure he ever noticed. If he did, he didn’t say anything.

In the chapter you just read, Charlie and Jillian were sitting on a flat rock taking a break before starting down to the parking lot. They were munching on some of their nibbles. And they’d even made themselves eat the last of their hot, gooey, salty, peanut butter sandwiches.

They’d just finished hiking all the way around the lake, which added an additional 4.6 kilometers, and which would make the hike a total of fifteen kilometers return.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the flat rock they were sitting on is at the base of the rock outcropping that separates those two chutes to the left of center in the photo below.

Bertha Lake

Across the lake, in a little bay, a fly fisher in chest waders was methodically working his dry fly along the deep end of a reed bed. He was in the shadow of Bertha Peak, but on his backcasts his white fly line sparkled in the sun.

However, in the next photo, which is looking south from the north end of the lake, you can’t see the bay. It’s just around that point in the top right.

Bertha Lake

Charlie and Jillian were both watching him, although they weren’t really seeing him.

They were reminiscing. Revisiting things they’d talked about before during their many evenings in front of the fireplace, either at Jillian’s in Saskatoon or at Charlie’s in Lethbridge.

About how chance happenings had shaped their lives. About the Divine Within. About Charlie’s rather unique understanding of reincarnation. About how we are able to recreate our Self, if we so choose, right down to the subatomic level, right down to quantum field theory’s zero-point energy field.

And about what Aristotle says we must do to work toward what he calls true happiness.

Then, they both went quiet, lost in their own thoughts. The warmth of the late afternoon sun and the warmth of the rock they were sitting on were quite relaxing.

As you just read, however, after a while Jillian put her hand on Charlie’s knee to get his attention, and then she told him that she’d been wondering about some of the comments he’d made in passing over the last few months. Comments that he hadn’t elaborate on.

She said she’d love to know, for example, what he meant last Christmas when he suggested that maybe they should merge their journeys.

When she’d tried to guess what he’d meant by that, three possibilities had come to mind.

She shared those possibilities with him, but she immediately added that he could easily have meant something altogether different. And she knew she’d be fine with that, too.

She assured him that she wasn’t asking for any changes in their relationship.

She’d just like some clarification, whenever he was ready. Although, maybe there was nothing to clarify. And that, in itself, would be clarification.

You already know, of course, that Charlie didn’t respond. He didn’t even look at her. He was watching six pelicans that had just glided in and were settling in the sun by the far shore.

Six pelicans.

He thought about the number six.

And he smiled.

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And that, folks, brings us to the end of The Companion Book to The Parking Ticket. It is finally completely published here on my website: glennchristianson.ca.

I hope to publish The Parking Ticket on Kindle Select in a month or so, although it might take a bit longer than that. I’ve already started committing half my writing time to my next novel.

When it does end up on Kindle Select, look for:

Cover

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UPDATE #1

I have recently added the following information to the theme page:

The Parking Ticket is now published as an e-book on Amazon’s Kindle Select, the paperback version will be there right beside it very soon, and I have finally completed the last chapter in The Companion Book for The Parking Ticket.

UPDATE #2

In my Blog section, immediately following Part XIII – Chapter 17 – 2018, I’ve grouped a few of the photos I used in the thirty-two chapters of The Companion Book for The Parking Ticket into one post.

I’m assuming some of you might enjoy looking through them without having to read the commentaries.

If, of course, you are curious about one of the photos and would like to know more about it, you could go to its particular chapter in The Companion Book.

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Note

To enlarge a single photo in a post, click on it. To zoom in for details, click on it a second time.

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(© 2019 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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Part IX – Chapter 8 – 2011

Snow Chute

The photo above is looking northeast toward the snow chute where Charlie almost died. Should have died. Should have lost his footing and slid into the freezing water.

But that is a 2010 photo.

This year, 2011, that chute is much, much larger because Charlie is hiking earlier in the year and because the winter snowfall has been over twice the annual average.

Charlie says he’s looking up at a steep, wet, probably unstable, ten-meter climb to the crest. Unstable and wet, of course, because it’s been raining heavily for the past two to three hours.

(You’re looking at this side of that chute and the crest. If you look closely at the tip, you get just a hint of the other side, which drops back down to the water.)

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Below is Upper Bertha Falls. That water drops hundreds of feet from Bertha Lake and ends up down at Lower Bertha Falls where it quickly segues into Bertha Creek and finally empties into Upper Waterton Lake.

Upper Bertha Falls

Charlie talks about Lower Bertha Falls at the beginning of the chapter you just read. You’ve seen photos of the falls before in Part VI, Chapter 12, but maybe a reminder of what the falls looks like would be useful.

And a reminder about the bear grass, which isn’t in flower yet up at Bertha Lake.

(Once again, since it’s raining on Charlie’s hike around Bertha Lake this time, he’s using photos from previous trips.)

This is what the chutes along the east side of the lake looked like in 2010.

Snow Chutes

That last chute on the left is the one that nearly did him in.

Just before Charlie gets to what the two guys at the Visitor Center described as an almost straight-up wall of snow, he looks toward the north end of the lake and sees the campsites.

Below is a view from those campsites looking southward across that point on the right toward the far end of the lake.

Snow Chutes

Imagine that whole east side on the left and the far end, which the sun can’t get at for most of the day, being almost totally covered with snow. And imagine all those snow chutes being absolutely huge.

This is the west side of Bertha Lake, which has no snow in most places because the sun is able to get at it. It’s not blocked by the mountains.

This year, it’s overcast, though, and it has already started to drizzle by the time Charlie gets to the part of the path in the photo on the right.

Several times, Charlie stops and scans the avalanche chutes across the lake. But he can’t see them very well. It’s just too socked in.

And as he nears the southern end, he begins to notice more and more streams running down the wall of the cirque and into the lake.

You see this big mountain stream when you first arrive at Bertha Lake. It drops down from the snows on top of Bertha Peak, which has an elevation of 2298 meters.

Streams

But there are many more streams like the one below all along the bases of Mount Alderson and Mount Richards.

Streams

Notice how the stream runs under the avalanche snow. It hollows out a path, and in so doing, it creates a snow bridge. And that’s what Charlie is really concerned about. How thick is the snow that’s left above the steam bed?

And with the added weight of the rain, which began to worsen when he was about halfway down the west side, how much weaker would those bridges be by now?

Even branches in the snow from the avalanche debris would weaken them.

Charlie’s left leg does break though on the very first snow bridge, although, with the help of his poles, he’s able to keep his balance.

Nonetheless, he barely breaths as he eases across the rest of the bridges.

But when he finally reaches the southeast corner of the lake and looks north, he’s immediately faced with an even more ominous “major-mother stretch of snow,” to use his phrase.

And he knows that all the chutes from here up to the north end will slope really steeply toward the lake. All of them.

And unfortunately, during the day the surface of those major-mothers softens and then refreezes at night, gradually forming a hard crust.

One misstep on that crust today, and, worst-case scenario, he could easily slide down into the lake. And with his extra layers of clothes, his heaviest hiking boots, his biggest backpack, and the lake water just above freezing, he’d almost certainly drown.

Below is the very spot where he irritated a tendon on the outside of his right leg last year from kicking into that crusty snow to get solid a foothold.

But again, you’ll have to imagine a lot more snow than what you see here. Several feet more. The shoreline to the left is covered, as well as many of those trees. The snow slopes right into the lake. And that’s exactly where Charlie will end up if he loses his footing.

The Return to the North End

Another view, which might help. You have to use your imagination, though, to raise the snow several feet to cover the shoreline and trees on the left and to cover that rock ledge just under the water. None of those things are showing this year.

And that’s why Charlie sees nothing but a “major-mother stretch of snow,” and is beginning to wish he were at home on the patio with BJ.

The Return to the North End

The photo below is an hour later. But remember – much more snow and no rocks along the shoreline.

The Return to the North End

And that’s how Charlie spends his time going up the east side of the lake toward that final snow chute at the north end.

And don’t forget, he’s hiking in a heavy rainfall, and he’s really afraid that the added weight of the rain is making the snow even more unstable.

So by the time he reaches that last chute, he’s fully aware that he can’t go back. It would be over four kilometers of snow bridges and snow chutes that are much wetter and much heavier and much more likely to give way.

And that’s why, when he looks around that final rock point, which is only a couple feet from the open water of the lake, and he sees that almost straight-up, ten-meter wall of snow, he feels a scream begin to well up from deep within.

And for the first time, he becomes clearly aware of the distinct possibility, even probability, that he might be about to die.

And that’s why, when he finally reaches the crest and looks down on the other side, he come close to letting go, and just sliding into the lake, and having it over with.

Quickly.

He has no energy left. No will to fight.

However, as you just saw, he does get himself under control, and he does cross over the crest, and he does make it down to the flat ground on the other side.

But on his way back to the parking lot, he decides he’d better not tell BJ about this chute, or even about the snow bridges, because of the way she reacted when he told her about his almost dying on Lineham.

Some things, he thinks to himself yet again, are far better left unsaid.

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Note

To enlarge a single photo in a post, click on it. To zoom in for details, click on it a second time.

Click on the first photo in groups of photos to start a slideshow. 

To see one of those group shots at full size, click on it, then scroll down to its bottom right where it says, View full size. You can click on it a second time, if you wish, to zoom in for details.

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(© 2018 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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