Shortly we come in sight of the distant ramparts of Briançon, apparently closing in the valley, the snow-clad peak of Monte Viso rising in the distance. Halfway between the Col and Briançon we pass through the village of Monestier, where, being a saint's day, the bulk of the population are in the street, holding festival.
Then snow begins to fall and winter sets in, as it does everywhere in the high Sierras. Very deep snow-drifts cover the ground, lakes and rivers freeze, and the great falls are fringed with icicles, while a large ice cone forms at the foot of the falling water. Many beautiful pictures may be found in the valley in winter when Jack Frost is ruler of all the snow-clad, ice-bound cañon.
I knew that there was a range still farther back; but except from one place near the very top of my own mountain, no part of it was visible: from this point, however, I saw, whenever there were no clouds, a single snow-clad peak, many miles away, and I should think about as high as any mountain in the world.
Long after they had secured Larry's new suit and gone on their way through park and boulevard, Larry continued to expatiate upon the glories of Alberta hills and valleys, upon its cool breezes, its flowing rivers and limpid lakes, and always the western rampart of the eternal snow-clad peaks. "And how is the mine doing?" inquired Rowena, for Larry had fallen silent. "The mine?
Gradually the green patches became more numerous, until the level was covered with nothing else. In one place, he almost thought he caught a gleam of golden buttercups. The verdure crept up the snow-clad slopes, hundreds and thousands of feet; and here and there, beside some foaming little cataract tumbling down from a glacier-fed stream, a rhododendron glowed like a rosy flame.
Slowly the sun went down, and sea and berg and snow-clad cliff grew grey in the light of departing day. Still the panting team sped on over the frozen sea. Soon it became too dark to travel with safety. The pace was slackened. The run became a canter, then a trot, and then a walk. At last the driver stopped, jumped off the sledge, and ordered the women to get out the seal and feed the dogs.
Far away to the west the valley of the Drac lies encircled by the pine-covered slopes of the Lans range, whilst towering some seven thousand and more feet up the snow-clad crest of Grande Moucherolle glistens like a sea of myriads of rose-coloured diamonds under the kiss of the morning sun.
Daylight found them on the banks of a broad, swift-flowing river in a valley between the range of mountains through which they had passed and a line of still more formidable and snow-clad peaks. The elephants swam the wide and rushing water, for of all land animals their kind are the best swimmers.
Meantime, Thurston began to find the view of the snow-clad Olympians grow monotonous. It is true that every pinnacle was silhouetted, a spire of unsullied whiteness, against softest azure. The peaks towered, a sight to entrance the vision ethereally majestic above a cerulean sea but Geoffrey had seen rather too much snow unpleasantly close at hand within the last few months.
Their new home was a lovely vale of about six or seven miles in length, and varying from one to two in breadth, like a vast basin surrounded on all sides by steep and sterile mountains, which rose in sharp wedge-like ridges, with snow-clad summits that towered to an estimated height of five thousand feet above the level of the sea.