To Jasper and Back!

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September 19th 2006
Published: September 22nd 2006
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To Jasper and Back!

Points of Interest for Day Twelve - September 19, 2006

Ok, so we have been looking at the weather forecast—and today is supposed to be rainy… But, the last 2 days have started off overcast and then brightened up in the afternoon… So, we are keeping our fingers crossed that today is a good day as we have a lot of miles to cover!! Although, with the first glimpse out our window this morning—things don’t look to promising!


Starting Destination: Bow Lake, Alberta, Canada
Ending Destination: Bow Lake, Alberta, Canada
Ending Destination GPS: N: 51° 40.702’ W: 116° 28.019’ Elev: 6420’
Miles Driven: 249
Miles Hiked: Approx. 1 mile
Vertical Elevation Change: 98 feet (30 meters), not counting the stairs to the restaurant!
Inappropriate Foot ware Update: Seen being worn on the Glacier—Teva’s (without sox)

The Icefields Parkway

The official tourist brochure for the Icefields Parkway says that it is “The most beautiful road in the world,” as we started our trip we saw more of the road than the scenery along the way!! But as the morning progressed clouds lifted and we managed to get glimpses of what it would be like if there were no clouds… We attempted to stop at as many of the information stops as we could, however, sometimes that was a little difficult as most of the other drivers seemed intent on getting from point A to point B without looking at the sights! And that is not to mention the tour bus drivers… If they were not breathing down your neck while driving, they were blocking you off in the parking lots because you haven’t parked where they thing you should! Regardless, we persevered and enjoyed immensely the scenery that we did get to see—Mount Wilson, Bridal Veil Falls (although we wondered just how many countries have Bridal Veil Falls—3 at least that we know of…), The Weeping Wall and of course the Columbia Icefield!!

Walking on the Glacier…

The entrance to the Columbia Icefield public viewpoint was a little eerie—there are these small blue signs along the way that indicate that the glacier was “here” in 1908, 1935 etc. and these are at least a mile from where the walking trail is… Then it is a kilometer walk to the edge of the Glacier… You could walk on the Glacier about 100 feet, but it was a totally different sight from the Glaciers we had seen above Lake Louise—this one was coated in a thin film of dust making it look “dirty,” but the biggest difference was the lack of “creaking and groaning” in the ice… However, there was a pretty spectacular crack in the glacier (left) to the right of where you could walk that provided a window into the blue color (difficult to see) of the ice at the center of the glacier—quite a contrast against the almost black of the ice that is exposed to the atmosphere—it was so black that we thought it was actually rock instead of ice! Of course there were plenty of people walking “outside” the lines to go and view the crack up close—we just didn’t feel comfortable taking the risk! Out next stop was the Visitors center which had lots of interesting information about Glaciers… It was just packed with other people, so we moved on pretty quickly!


The next stop was the Athabasca Falls (left), which give you a graphic demonstration as to the power of water… At this point the water of the Athabasca River hits a hard segment of rock and has carved a “mini-canyon” to pass through—difficult to capture in a picture, but spectacular to look at! Our final destination was the town of Jasper where we drove around for a while and visited the Visitor information center where we learned that just 4 days ago there had been 18 inches of snow on the ground—today there wasn’t a trace left for us to see! We then had lunch/dinner at Earls to celebrate Maria’s Birthday—the meal was great and to make matters better we were able to sit on the balcony and had an excellent view of the surrounding mountains. While we were enjoying Alberta beef steaks and wonderful garlic mashed potatoes, Carl commented that he thought Jasper reminded him of a California seaside town—the age and to some extent the architecture of the buildings, the kids riding their bikes and the fact that we were sitting on the balcony looking at the tops of all the other buildings - just the scenery was different! Alas, our visit was too short we had to return along the Icefields Parkway to return to our hotel—one of the negatives to organizing your accommodation ahead of time!!

Looking for Brown Blobs

At all the visitor centers and on many of the trails along the way there have been signs warning of bears in the area and about staying away from the Elk as it was mating season… Alas, the only elk (left) we saw were being chased out of Jasper by a park ranger with a whip and a handgun… after spending a large part of the whole trip “looking for brown blobs” Maria didn’t manage to spot any type of wildlife; and despite his superior experience, Carl didn’t see any animals either!! However, we did manage to see a pretty spectacular rainbow (left), that in Maria’s mind was a more than adequate substitute, she is not sure Carl agrees!! Then it was back to the lodge—it had been quite the driving day, but our muscles were certainly no complaining!!

Carl’s Travel Trivia

Yesterday’s Answer: A cattle grid. (Congrats to Marv!)
Today’s Question: What is missing from Glacier Ice making it blue?


22nd September 2006

Trivia What is missing from Glacier Ice to make it Blue?
Tiny air pockets. The ice absorbs all other colors in the spectrum and reflects primarily blue. White ice has many tiny air bubbles still in the ice.

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