Alta States 

Me and a pika and Arthur De Jong A sunset walk in the alpine



"In the new economy it's imperative to... deliver a product that meets the enchantment test. Is it DICEE? Deep, intelligent, complete, empowering and elegant.

- Guy Kawasaki, Garage Technology Ventures


There he is. Lounging on a rock - his wind-ruffled fur already beefed up for the cold months to come. Looks like he's been there for a while too. Doesn't seem concerned at all that his afternoon sunbath is being interrupted by a couple of human interlopers. Indeed, it's almost as if he were waiting for us.

We are standing on the edge of Blackcomb territory, in that magical zone between timberline and alpine - what eminent architect Eldon Beck calls "one of the mountains' most distinct ecotones." And this early fall weather is spoiling us rotten.

Across the valley, Whistler peak shimmers in the late-afternoon sunshine. Feels for a second like I could just reach out and touch it. Further left, beyond the Musical Bumps thrusts the daunting form of Fissile. A thin ribbon of snow runs down the north-facing couloir, like a scar cut into its face. Next to it, I can almost detect the shape of a white-coated dragon in Overlord Glacier's icy contortions. Makes me want to cry out in recognition.

Meanwhile our alpine rodent friend sits and watches us. Animal satori. "Talk about a well-placed mountain ambassador," I say. "How much are you paying this guy?"

Arthur De Jong shakes his head. "No. No. I'm not that manipulative," laughs WB's environmental prestidigitator, as he reaches for his camera. "This is a total coincidence."

At the sound of his voice, the old marmot lazily turns his head around and gazes straight into De Jong's lens. Rays of light play hide-and-seek through his mottled fur - the lichen-covered rock on which he's splayed a perfect backdrop for the shot. Click-click-click goes the camera. "This is a keeper," the big man says, a grin splashed across his face. "It's almost like he knows what we're up to."


And I can't help but smile. We are barely into our hike - not even past Arthur's "first ring" yet - and already he has me enchanted. DICEE indeed...

"We should get going," he finally says. "There's so much I want to show you today." He packs his camera away and looks at me searchingly. "We still have a long walk. Are you sure you're up for it? You know, we don't really want to get caught out in the dark back there."

I nod. "You lead. I'll follow. If it gets too tough - or too painful - I'll let you know. Don't worry. I'm not going to suffer in silence." I try to laugh. Cackle instead. "I'm not the guy you once knew Arthur. I've had the ego beaten right out of me these last few months." He looks at me in quiet disbelief. Yeah right. Beaudry without an ego. That would be something to see.


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