The Death Spiral

The Death Spiral

It was a woodframe building capped with a green metal roof. A solar panel was mounted on the south facing section of the roof. The large windows at the front and sides of the building were framed with 6 inch wide pine boards. Below the windows the wall was studded with randomly arranged river rocks. A wooden deck edged with log rails and posts ran across the front and to the sides of the building. A sign above the front door of the building announced in red letters ICEFIELD HELICOPTER TOURS. In smaller blue letters the word SIGHTSEEING. The building was located near a community in the Canadian Rockies named Saskatchewan Crossing.

My daughter had driven me here from her home in Lake Louise. The owners of the company had given her a complimentary pass for a helicopter tour. She wanted to use the pass before she left her job. She generously offered to take me along for the ride. I had driven out from Calgary the day before.

I was introduced to the owner of the company and he and my daughter chit chatted awhile. Then she and I were escorted to the field next to the building. Our helicopter was being prepared for take off. We arrived at the doors of the helicopter and the pilot said, “who wants to sit up front?”

My daughter said, “You go up front Dad. I’ve done this tour before.”

So, I sat in my seat at the front. I seemed surrounded by glass. The door to my left was clear glass. Beneath my feet was a large area of glass. The pilot revved the engine. We began hovering about 3 feet above the grassy field. Then the helicopter moved not up but sideways. The pilot flew the helicopter almost to road before he lifted higher. God damn jet jockey, I thought.

We flew over the Icefields Parkway towards the Iceields themselves. Soon we were grazing towering rock castles. This late in June there were still fields of snow on the ground. Then we saw it. The fissured blue face and magnificent expanse of the Athabasca Glacier. But, all I could think was, if I could jump out of this helicopter I could be free.

It was just 56 days till I would hit the wall.

An excerpt from CRASH! Memories of a Healing Journey, Lyle T. Lachmuth, All Rights Reserved