No goats today in the goat pasture.  Not to say one couldn’t see goats here, but I haven’t.   Ever.  In 53 years I have never seen a goat here.  Elk, mule deer and massive Rocky Mountain full curl sheep: I have seen these.  And marmots.   

Halfway up Norquay Mountain, just out of Banff Townsite there is a(nother) steep hairpin left turn with space to park.  Park.  Walk through the space in the stone wall and onto the goat pasture.  

Banff, Alberta, view of townsite, and Valley

Banff, Alberta, view of townsite, and Valley

We carry the picnic lunch cobbled together from the local deli.  The Mexican blanket we keep in the car for such occasions goes with us, and some camera gear.  


Here we sit, soaking up the alpine sun, enjoying lunch in the alpine meadow.  I purposefully let my mind wander, and the view wash over me.  It is beautiful here.  It’s beautiful nearly anywhere here, but this specific spot has been a vantage point of beauty since I was a child, and it continues to be a touch point every trip to Banff.

“Cathedral” vaporizes, drifts up and sticks in my head.  With the word comes concept, vision, and the reality.  It’s hanging there with no punctuation at all.  How do you punctuate something like that?  Men made cathedrals.  They are spectacular.  I sit here on the near vertical edge of the goat pasture over looking the Banff town site and seeing maybe fifteen kilometers in each direction.

Thinking Cathedral.  Wikipedia says: “impressive edifice, seat of clergy.”

This Cathedral is made by God’s own hand.  Mountains laid up in piles of granite behind, in front of, and on either side of me–beyond impressive.     It looks to me like a celestial giant with fierce fingers pushed this rock around like a kid in a sandbox.     Rocky Mountains trenched and stacked like kids backyard sand.   Granite peaks covered in conifers to a point where the air is too rare for them to survive.  Then rock, more rock and snow all the way to the peak.  At the horizon starts eternal blue sky, with happy woolen clouds.  Clouds pose and adjust, posing again on a sky blue backdrop, and again for our continued delight.

Vermillion lakes are there strewn out to the west, soggy bottoms on gigantic puddles, constantly refreshed by melting snow.  Seems like the giant I envision turned the garden hose in the trench creating massive puddles.  The bow river flows by the lakes.   It used to flow through the lakes.  The sandbox has a life of its own, shaped by water, weather and wind.

I suspect a small herd of elk lay bedded in the mid day shade, cool respite from the afternoon warmth of the alpine sun.  

Crocus litter the goat pasture.  Fat marmots roll out of their dens to be warmed by the sun.  Charcoal Ravens drift by.  The bow river is silty green in the process of moving mountain spring run-off.  

Banff Alberta

Banff Alberta

I sit in the middle seat of awe inspiring global cathedral.  

God’s own impressive seat.  Seen from the goat pasture.  


My favorite place of worship.


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