Visitors to this region, new residents, even my children won’t see or remember the mature forest that blanketed the land west of my home up until two years ago. As an artist, I can use my paintings to share the past beauty of the forest, and to find and show beauty in the changes that have taken place. I think that is a wonderful opportunity, as well as an important responsibility for all landscape artists.
This weekend had me wishing for a better camera – actually, I’m wishing for a better camera most days, but never more than when I’m visiting a beautiful Peace River country location like Kinuseo Falls. This 60 metre waterfall is on the Murray River in Monkman Provincial Park in British Columbia and it is both beautiful and remote. The road in ends at the falls, and intrepid hikers can take the two day hike into Monkman Lake to see more of the northern Rocky Mountains and gorgeous mountain scenery. Since we were travelling with three preschoolers, we didn’t choose this option, but we tented at the campsite a few kilometers above the falls and enjoyed/endured a 4 km hike to the Stone Corral, a tiny spring-fed lake ringed by steep limestone cliffs.
Mountain rivers are of course frigidly cold, but the temperatures were hot enough that I took a dip anyhow. Beautiful clear water, and no one else around. I love the remoteness of the park – living in a rural area means we are just not used to sharing the great outdoors with strangers. National parks like Jasper or Banff may be beautiful but I prefer beauty that is largely undiscovered.
A couple of years ago, the mountain pine beetle infested the pine trees in British Columbia. You can see in the picture above the red of trees killed by the infestation. It’s so sad to see such a grand scale of destruction, and the campsite, which four years ago had been a haven of shade and lush vegetation, now an open clearing – like a scar on the landscape. A forest fire two years ago destroyed a good deal of forest on the northeast end of Tumbler Ridge, and with the destruction from the fire (lightning caused) and the pine beetle epidemic, it’s hard to imagine how the region will ever recover. The entire landscape of the northern Rockies has changed.