JUNE 26, 2015. FIRST DAY OF JOURNEY HOME

Boarding the Greyhound in Nelson

Boarding the Greyhound in Nelson

I begin my journey home. It feels horrible. I ask myself what I’m going back to and none of the answers make me smile. I have to say goodbye to one of the most precious people in my life – my daughter. We spend the afternoon making lunch, playing ping pong on the deck in the 35-degree heat and watching the last of the Harry Potter movies, which is kind of depressing.

As I’m getting out of the taxi at the Greyhound bus terminal, I am stung by an unknown insect and I become completely flustered.

With my arm swelling and a red circle spreading around the bite, I go to Shopper’s Drug Mart to buy some food for the trip. And some After Bite medication.

I nearly wet myself before reaching the washroom as my daughter has been trying to over-hydrate me in the heat wave. I’m feeling more and more uncomfortable by the minute.

The Alberta-bound bus, with only six of us on board, pulls out of Nelson just after 7 p.m. and turns onto Highway 6 heading south. We’ll turn to the east, away from the setting sun, and lose an hour of time before we reach Calgary in 11 hours.

The evening is still and hot, but late-day shadows are deepening in the British Columbian forests. By this time tomorrow, it will all be behind me and I’ll be preparing for the long train journey through the Prairies and into the wild, rocky, lake-splattered country of northern Ontario and on to Toronto, then Ottawa.

If all goes according to schedule, I’ll be “home” in four days.

An hour and a quarter into the bus trip, we crest one of the highest mountain passes in the country, the 1800-metre Salmo-Creston in the Selkirk Mountains, the local name for the Kootenay Pass on the Crowsnest Highway. My hearing is muffled at this altitude, but I listen intently to the woman across the aisle chatter about how dangerous the road is. She boarded in Salmo and has a one-hour journey to endure, but she’s skittish as she recalls being hit by a vehicle on this very road. She also regales me with stories of friends she has lost in avalanches – she used to work with the Department of Transport’s helicopter crews who plant explosives in potential slide areas.

27 June sunset over the Rockies at Creston

Sunset over Selkirks at Creston

Luckily, Avalanche Woman disembarks safely at Creston, where we have a 35-minute stop and a driver change. A waxing half moon is rising steadily in the paling sky, and light layers of cloud are blushing over the distant dusky blue peaks.

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