Have you ever experienced a landscape touching something deep within you?
The prairie with its flat meadows reminds me of western movies, especially of the photographically beautiful movie „Dances with Wolves“. But how can one describe the feeling, which captured me?
Infinite space, an ocean of fields and meadows under a boundless sky. Now, in autumn, the gold yellow colors of wheat fields and dry meadows determine the view of the countryside. Driving the roads, straight to the horizon, you go hour by hour. Sometimes a valley, through which most of the times flows a river, interrupts this almost meditative monotony. For who still remembers the soundtrack of „Dances with Wolves“, this feels like going back 100 years.
At one point in Alberta a not quite so straight road leads us to the Writing-On-Stone / Áísínai’pi Provincial Park. The slightly clumsy name comes from stone engravings and drawings the Blackfoot Indians carved or painted into the sandstone 3000 years ago. The flat prairie ends abruptly and we enter a broad valley which border is decorated with rock formations. These formations are called hoodoos like the ones we admired near Drumheller (Alberta) in 2007.
For thousands of years this spot has been a spiritual place for the First Nation people. This is still evident today. The landscape expresses beauty, harmony and peace. People who visit this park just to check off another attraction, won’t capture this. For me it feels emotional. I walk through the hoodoos along the gently flowing Milk River and watch the ocher of the sandstone standing out against the blue sky. The bends of the river divide and connect the valley. In one of these bends is a renovated police station of the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) from the 1880s located.
In another bend in the river, there is a campground under huge cottonwood trees. A sandy beach attracts many summer visitors to swim in the Milk River. Who wants to swim to the other side of the river must wade through waist-high water, there is no bridge.
Romance of the past
Especially in the mornings and evenings white-tailed deer gather at the meadows or the campground. Birds are chirping. There are also rattlesnakes and mountain lions (cougars), but they are very shy and would rather avoid people.
While enjoying all the modern comforts of a motorhome I sometimes wish myself back in time in which the native people were still calling the shots. Millions of bison and pronghorn were living on the prairie. Certainly, a romantic idea that I leave behind here in Writing-On-Stone / Áísínai’pi Provincial Park.
The Writing-On-Stone / Áísínai’pi Provincial Park is located in the southern part of the Canadian province Alberta, 40 kilometers east of the town Milk River.