Southern Alberta Medicine Wheel Adventure



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This tale was originally published on Holly's running forum, runningmania.com. Everyone else had posted their workouts there and I thought mine should win a prize, at least!

Posted: 7 November 2005

Is it too late to get in a Sunday report? Do I have a story to tell!

Kim and I went out Sunday morning to find a medicine wheel I've been trying to get to (I love finding ancient sacred places and this one is up to 4,500 years old in places). We turned off the radio and enjoyed the silence of the trip, kind of zoning out and chatting a little. At one point where the road had just been re-paved our wheels started to "sing" and I kid you not -- it sounded like choirs. We both commented on the mystical-ness of that and it set the tone for our day.

We followed the directions we had and took my little Neon out into the prairie, following a two-rut track much of the way. My little car is VERY low in front, so we had to straddle ruts. Found our way down to where we THOUGHT we should be and parked the car. We thought if we climbed to the top of the hill we would be able to see where the medicine wheel was, because there was no sign of any such thing where we were standing. Scared up a big buck as we approached the hill and were thrilled to watch him bounding off toward the Bow River. Scared up another pair of deer a few minutes later as we started our climb.

That's the first part of my cross-training for the day. Climbed a big hill. But the view was spectacular from up there! Gently-rolling prairie as far as the eye could see, with a river valley in front of us. On the other side of the river was a tiny farm house with cattle grazing peacefully nearby.

But not a medicine wheel in sight.

We decided to walk over to some anomylous-looking features we could see in the distance. Maybe, if they weren't the medicine wheel itself, we could get a better view. We kept going and going, always wanting to just get over the NEXT rise. That's part two of my training for the day. Walked my little heart out. Scared up a jackrabbit, a couple of coyotes and more deer. It was thrilling.

Finally we got to where we were going and were rewarded by another specatular view of the river valley. But no medicine wheel.

We stopped to rest and plan our next steps. After a little discussion, we decided to just head back and call it a day. We had brought "gifts" for the Great Spirit (Native tradition) and we thought we'd just leave them somewhere else, hoping they would be seen and we'd get credit for them anyway. Neither Kim nor I usually do this kind of thing, but it felt fitting at this time.

We had just started walking back and were still on the edge of this cliff that dropped down to the river valley, when we spotted a small plane coming toward us, following the river. We ducked down a bit (didn't know whose land we were trespassing on!) and watched him pass. Then we started walking back.

In a couple of minutes we saw the plane come straight up from the river from the direction where our car was parked. He must have seen the car and decided to look for its owners. The pilot spotted us and his plane started coming straight at us! We weren't sure what to do, so we smiled and waved in our very best couple-of-city-girls-out-for-a-stroll pose and he waved back at us. Then he circled back and started to LAND the plane right there on the prairie!

A million thoughts were going through my head as Kim and I walked toward that plane -- not all of them pleasant ones. But I decided we were kind of stuck there and might as well make the best of it. So we smiled and said hello to the pilot. Turned out he was the owner of the little farm on the other side of the river and was just checking to make sure we were all right. He chatted with us for awhile and pointed out the hill where the medicine wheel is (MILES away across still more prairie!) and said if he'd had more room in his plane he would just FLY us over. But as it was, he'd have had to take us over one at a time and I didn't feel comfortable with that. So we thanked him profusely, took his picture, and we set off again, back to the car. I got a picture of Kim watching him take off again -- just in case you don't believe this story!


The pilot, whose name was Grant, told us how to find our way out to the medicine wheel so we walked all the way back to the car, climbing DOWN the hill again (more cross-training). Getting into the car and OFF our feet felt so good!

We drove back to the wheel-rutty road, straddling ruts like crazy, back to the turnoff we *thought* he meant. Wasn't the right one. Had to turn around and bump our way back. Found another trail he might have meant. Wasn't the right one, either. Turned around again and made our way back to the "main" set of ruts. FINALLY found the right trail and headed back toward the hills on it.

This trail had a lot more muddy spots. We managed to either go around them on the grass or straddle the worst parts and take a run through them. Poor Kim was nervous, but she was having fun.

Until we slipped into a rut and high-centred the Neon.

We got out into the muck (good thing I was wearing OLD shoes) and surveyed the situation. We decided to jack the car up a bit and put rocks under the one wheel that had spun out. I sent Kim off to gather rocks while I started jacking. We took turns jacking the car and finding rocks. Our backs, legs and arms ached (part four of my cross-training). When we were done, Kim got in the car (she's lighter!) and I pushed. Finally we were out! Woo hoo! We are women, hear us roar!

Now the decision. Do we head back and call it a day? Or do we continue on the last few kilometers to the medicine wheel? We're not quitters, but the sun WAS starting to get lower in the sky and we didn't want to be stuck out there in the dark.

Still...

We decided to go "just a little bit further" to see what we could see. After all, how often are you wandering around in bald prairie and the Great Spirit sends a man in a PLANE to show you how to find the sacred spot? We had to give it our absolute best shot.

But after another kilometer or so we came to a steep hill that I knew our little car couldn't possibly make. We would have had to park the car and climb, then walk the last few kilometers and the sun was already getting too low in the sky to continue. We decided to call this our "reconnaissance mission" and call it a day.

Kim was never so happy to see solid pavement in her life! She was thrilled to have had this adventure with her mama, but she was pretty scared in spots, too. Especially when we were stuck and I was pushing the car back. She didn't realize she still had it in drive and almost ran over me! Her big blue eyes filled with tears and she was pretty shaken -- poor kid.

There have been many times in my life when I've taken risks and had near-miraculous things happen in my life and this was one of them. Life's too short not to grab everything you can from it. Kim and I learned a lot from this little jaunt and we WILL be returning, though probably in a bigger vehicle.



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