May 24, 2008

Icefields Parkway to Jasper

The drive through the Canadian Rockies passes from Banff to Jasper along the Icefields Parkway has got to be one of the most scenic routes in all of North America. Unfortunately, we are a bit early in the season, and the weather was dreary & overcast, so I apologize for the pix, they really don't do it justice.

The spectacular mountain range was dotted with glacier after glacier (like the two, left & right, shown here) driving the desire to stop at every pullout along the route.

These glaciers over time have formed many crystal, turquoise-blue lakes that are the "jewels" of this Canadian drive. We stopped at Lac Peyto, and were greeted by an interesting hike of about a mile through snow & ice to sample it's beauty. It reminded Kim of those days growing up in Minnesota, and the many fun times they had as kids romping in the fluffy stuff!

The lake itself was set in a huge valley, at the bottom of a very far away glacier. If you look closely to the left, you will see how much the glacier has receded (melted) in the past few years.

The most spectacular glacier along the Parkway is the Columbia Icefield Athabasca Glacier, which is the only glacier in the world that you can actually take a ride across in these huge "IceCat" tour buses. The day was still cloudy, but I manged to get this shot from the visitor center across the highway. If you can see the two small "dots" out there on the surface of the glacier, that's one of the IceCats!

The ride started with a 35% grade descent down the mountainside, which I couldn't get a shot of because we were all hanging on (and a few screaming!), then we leveled off onto the glacier and it was mch smoother. They groom & check the ice (for cracks & crevases) each morning, and haven't lost a bus in a crater yet!

We were allowed about 20 minutes on the glacier, which gave us time to absorb the immensity of this huge chunk of ice! What a treat today was!


LiveWorkDream said...

Wow you guys, these are incredible photos, I can't imagine being there.

So glad you didn't fall through that ice!

Cynde L. Hammond said...

That looked like SO MUCH FUN! I loved those photos, too--they were GREAT!