435. Saturday 6th June 2015. Lake Louise to Columbia Icefields to Jasper…

Saturday 6th June After a late breakfast we still managed to get on the road by 10am.

View not far out of Lake Louise

View not far out of Lake Louise

There was a relay race from Banff to Jasper.     Www.bjr.ca.   Supposedly it is a 260 klm fun race through the Rocky Mountains but there are those who are serious. Naturally they started the Lake Louise to Jasper leg before we got on the road so we were slowed in many places by the racers and their support crews and changeover locations.

Mountain range known as the Endless Chain. The runners in the relay seemed like an endless chain of traffic disruptions.

Mountain range known as the Endless Chain. The runners in the relay seemed like an endless chain of traffic disruptions.

The entire length, well at least the parts that we have seen of the Rocky Mountains drive is …umm err, spectacular all the way. Sorry I cannot find other words to describe the voyage. Like the Great Ocean Road in Australia I can enjoy the drive – both ways – as often as possible.

We stopped at the great Athabaska Glacier in the Columbia Icefield.  http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athabasca_Glacier.  We opted to walk over a moraine created by the receding glacier to the toe of the glacier.

Enlarge the photo to see the people - like us- who had to hike over this glacier created moraine to reach the toe of the glacier.

Enlarge the photo to see the people – like us- who had to hike over this glacier created moraine to reach the toe of the glacier.

Carpark at the base of t Moraine created by the receding Athabasca Glacier. Way in the background can be seen the carpark for the Icefields Discovery Centre.

Carpark at the base of t Moraine created by the receding Athabasca Glacier. Way in the background can be seen the carpark for the Icefields Discovery Centre.

The wind whipping down from the glacier was both fierce and chilly.

At least Donnis had better cold protection.

At least Donnis had better cold protection.

Other people opted for a guided walk on the glacier

The Athabasca Glacier seen from the top of the moraine created by the receding glacier.. An idea of its size can be gained by enlarging the photo - twice. In mid fram slightly to left can be seen a group of about 9 people on a guided tour. A little to the right and further back is a couple who hiked further up the glacier. In both tours the guide and guided carry rescue ropes and ice picks and pitons etc as there are crevasses which can open up unexpectedly. Several deaths have occurred with unprepared and unauthorised hikers.

The Athabasca Glacier seen from the top of the moraine created by the receding glacier.. An idea of its size can be gained by enlarging the photo – twice. In mid fram slightly to left can be seen a group of about 9 people on a guided tour. A little to the right and further back is a couple who hiked further up the glacier. In both tours the guide and guided carry rescue ropes and ice picks and pitons etc as there are crevasses which can open up unexpectedly. Several deaths have occurred with unprepared and unauthorised hikers.

while others went for the comfort of a bus ride.

Enlarge the photo. Tour buses can be seen on glacier. They are dwarfed by the towering glacier walls.

Enlarge the photo. Tour buses can be seen on glacier. They are dwarfed by the towering glacier walls.

Anyway to view this giant moving grinding frozen wall of snow and ice is awe inspiring. The top of the iceberg, where the guided tours walk, to the valley floor, is higher than the Eiffel Tower. I would have happily stayed here walking around but the frigid wind whipping past my ears gave a painful earache. We were simply not dressed appropriately for the conditions. My gloves and Tuk were in the bottom of our suitcase. Across the road is the Columbia Icefields Discovery Centre which thankfully had hot food and huge lines of tourists waiting to book either a foot guided tour of the glacier or the more popular bus tour onto the glacier.

Just a little north of the icefields is the Glacier Skywalk. A glass bottom suspended platform over the Athabasca River where several glaciers can be seen. We opted not to stop here as we were on a schedule and the $30 each admission fee.

This is the Glacier Skywalk with the glass walkway.

This is the Glacier Skywalk with the glass walkway.

Next along the road was Tangle Falls which is accessible beside the Icefields Highway.

Tangle Falls beside Highway 93, Icefields Parkway.

Tangle Falls beside Highway 93, Icefields Parkway.

The highway for the most part follows the raging Athabasca River all the way to Jasper. http://www.world-of-waterfalls.com/canada-tangle-falls.html I felt a little uncomfortable here as the only parking is on the opposite side of the highway. A pedestrian crossing is on a steep curved section of the highway with cars and buses zooming along are expected to suddenly brake to allow a pedestrian cross the road. It is the only pedestrian crossing in a 150 Klm stretch of highway in the middle of nowhere.

We next moved on to Sunwapta Falls where the meltwater swollen Athabasca River roars its way through a deep and narrow chasm.

At the top of Sunwapta Falls. The difference of less than 100 Klms from the icefields meant it was comfortable for short sleeves to be worn.

At the top of Sunwapta Falls. The difference of less than 100 Klms from the icefields meant it was comfortable for short sleeves to be worn.

The water of Athabasca River forces its way through this narrow gorge.

The water of Athabasca River forces its way through this narrow gorge.

Another view of the gorge.

Another view of the gorge.

A lack of navigational skills on my behalf meant we missed the turnoff to Athabasca Falls. (directional signs in the Jasper, Yoho and Banff National Parks are a bit scarce and are not placed at the actual turnoff, often they are placed up to 1 klm before the turnoff)

A few Klms outside of Jasper we saw a Cow Elk with a calf.

Mother Elk intimidating traffic so she and her calf can cross the hiner pastures just outside Jasper.

Mother Elk intimidating traffic so she and her calf can cross the hiner pastures just outside Jasper.

The mothers are very protective of their young and will charge people who get too close. While Donnis was busy learning how to use the zoom we ran out of memory on the camera and the Elk crossed the road, with calf and disappeared into the forest.

Once in Jasper we searched for accommodation which we found to be scarce, probably because the relay race finishes here. Eventually we found a room in a private house basement. Jasper has a system of home stay accommodation which provides basic accommodation …at a price. In the winter ski season all other mainstream accommodation is booked solid. The homestay takes up where the usual hotels, motels and bed & breakfast are booked out.

 

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4 Responses to “435. Saturday 6th June 2015. Lake Louise to Columbia Icefields to Jasper…”

  1. cliftontravelsGeoff Says:

    Loving reading your regular updates. Your trip is truly erm …. spectacular :)) Looking forward to spending a bit of time with you when you land back in Sydney. Don’t rush anything 🙂

    Like

    • frankeeg Says:

      Hi Geoff, welcome back. I know you read the posts regularly but I miss your comments. More interesting places still to come.

      Like

  2. placestheygo Says:

    Boy, the falls are really flowing with the spring melt. They were still nice in Sept, but you are seeing them at their best. We enjoyed Japser so much more that Banff. It was more intimate and not as commercialized. Thanks for the memories!

    Like

    • frankeeg Says:

      Hi Pam, the strange thing is I had no feeling for Banff as it was shrouded in mist and drizzly rain and we literally could not see anything. Jasper to me was a bit dull scenic wise. I preferred Lake Louise.

      Like

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