Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Columbia Icefields Parkway

Monday, June 26

We were up at 6:30, and had a quick breakfast of bagels and hard-boiled eggs. I decided on those two items since they required no kitchen cleanup.

By 8 we were on Highway 1 heading north.

These were the first nice peaks we saw north of Lake Louise.

The scenery started getting a little more dramatic.

33 kilometers north of Lake Louise we stopped to see the first glacier of the day. This is Crowfoot Glacier, so named because nearly 100 years ago, there was a bottom talon, as in the photo below.

A little further on we stopped at Bow Lake.

That's Bow Glacier off in the distance. Bow Lake is the source of the Bow River.

Looking the other direction across Bow Lake.

From here we went over Bow Pass and into the upper Mistaya River basin.

Yours truly at one of the Waterfowl Lakes.

Mt. Chephren above Waterfowl Lake.

The Mistaya River flow north into the Saskatchewan River. At the crossing we stopped for gas and a break, and then got back on the road going up the Saskatchewan River.

In the first picture I took of Don, he was so serious. For this one I made him laugh.

The Saskatchewan River.

Getting closer to Sunwapta Pass.

Once you get to the top of the pass, you get to the Columbia Icefield. The Icefield is a giant dome of ice, from which about a dozen large glaciers flow. The Icefields Center is located at the base of Athabaska Glacier and Dome Glacier, with a view of another unnamed one nearby.

Athabaska Glacier. This is the one which has tours. For $50, you can take a bus to a point along the side of the glacier about a third of the way up, and then transfer to a bus-like vehicle with giant wheels. This second vehicle takes you out on the glacier and lets you do a little exploring on the ice. We chose not to do this.

Less than 70 years ago the glacier was much larger than it is now.

This is Dome Glacier, so named because it comes right out of the giant ice dome at the top of the Icefield. This glacier actually is as long as Athqbaska, but the bottom 1/3 is covered by rocks and dirt.

Unnamed glacier to the south of Athabaska Glacier.

Another shot of Athabaska Glacier.

Lunch break!

This is Mount Edith Cavell. It's made almost entirely of quartzite. I'd learned that at Fort McLeod when we saw the Rock That Ran. It, too, was made of quartzite, and geologists suspect it originally came from the area near Mount Edith Cavell.

We finally saw Mountain Goats! First we spotted a group of 5 grazing on the side of the road, right next to a turnout. Don swung into the turnout, and I got out to try to get some photos.

This guy is clearly shedding his winter coat. He looks pretty ragged.

The cars spooked them, so they ran towards the river.

I thought they were gone, so Don and I walked out to the viewpoint over the Athabaska River. The goats were grazing on the cliffs above the river.

Here the goats are about 50 feet below me, but still hundreds of feet above the river.

We saw some bears about 5 miles down the road--a mother and her cub--but we were going too fast to stop. I'm sure we'll see more as the days go by.

1 comment:

Sondra said...

WOW so Beautiful...I love the Goats--the scenery is just gorgeous!! I read up a few posts to catch up ..KIDS grrrr too bad they were so unruly--and thats a great idea about changing the route around...At least there was a way around it all--enjoy!