By Frosty Wooldridge:
Part 1: A rainbow of colors and a spider web
After an extraordinary ride from Meziadin Junction off the Cassiar Highway to Hyder, Alaska, you can hardly recover from the visual overload of glaciers hanging from cliffs 500 to 1000 feet above your head. They call it, “Glacier Highway.” It follows a deep canyon cut by glaciers and rivers. Pine and aspen trees line the deep green highway for miles of stunning white and turquoise magic under blue skies.
Above you, for the entire ride, every kind of glacier looks down at you like you’re an intruder from another world. Some glaciers resemble the muzzle of a moose. Others feature wings along cliffs that seem to fly in the icy cold mountain altitudes. Still others resemble bowling pins jumbled up after a ball hit them at the end of the alley. Other glaciers hang up on ramparts while they cut loose their turquoise rivers that cascade down through aspirin-white snowfields. Gray rock, blue sky, white snowfields—all of it stunning to your senses.
Waterfalls cascade through the mist. On a sunny day, Glacier Highway provides any cyclist with memories for a lifetime. To say the least, Mother Nature offers you intricate jewelry for the inside of your mind and heart. Once you visit this place, it remains with you for the rest of your life.
But next morning, after a night of intense rain, the sun shone over the canyon. Water droplets dripped from aspen leaves, ran down the bark on pine trees, and gathered in small puddles in the campsite where we rested.
As I got up, I sat on the western side of my bike while the sun rose higher in the sky. If not for the sparkling water droplets, I would have missed it. A spider had weaved a perfect web in the corner of my top tube where it connected to my seat tube. The spider created his web in that triangle of steel. Instead of catching some flying insect, his web caught the last of the rain drops falling from the sky. As the sun hit the web and the rain drops, it created a color show unlike any I had ever seen in my travels.
Sure enough, as I crawled out of my tent, there in the corner of the web, sat the spider. I didn’t have the heart to brush him aside. So, I took a paper towel and pushed it toward him. He didn’t have much choice, so he hopped onto the tip of the paper towel. I carefully placed him on a tree leaf where he promptly got off. Quickly, he scrambled into the green forest.
I returned to my bicycle to wipe the web from its corner. From there, I fired up my one burner stove to cook up some hot oatmeal garnished with bananas and a cup of hot tea. I looked back up that canyon with all its stunning glaciers, yet I found much beauty in the smallest spider web at the end of a rainbow of water droplets.
You know, bicycle touring allows magic, mystery and enchantment. You may see it in the sky or in a mountain range or in the simple web of a spider spinning its jewelry to be capture by your heart.
Frosty Wooldridge, on tour, Hyder, Alaska
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