Icefields Parkway

We awoke bright and early in Banff, to a slightly chilly temp of around -30 degrees.  From what I heard, Sunshine skifield was on hold due to it being too cold…. wtf!!!  You know it’s pretty cold, when Canadians close their skifield.  We stopped at the supermarket to get some lunch, then headed north, along the section of road called the Icefields Parkway.  It is not a transit road, it is a scenery/tourist road, maintained by Parks Canada, and it one of the prettiest drives ever.

We stopped at all the places that were open.  It was very, very cold, but it was perfectly clear and sunny, which is what we wanted.  I will not go on about each place (hey look, another mountain!), but I do of course have pictures of each mountain.  Well, most of them.  There are more pictures than words in this post 🙂

Wildlife bridge
Wildlife bridge
A pretty range
A pretty range
Castle Mountain
Castle Mountain
Crowfoot Mountain
Crowfoot Mountain
Crowfoot Glacier
Crowfoot Glacier
Bow Lake
Bow Lake

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My favourite bits were:

Weeping wall – an ice covered wall, frozen and blue.  We stopped here for lunch, next to a very pretty little river.

Sasketchawan River
Sasketchawan River
Mount Wilson
Mount Wilson
Alexandra River
Alexandra River
Weeping wall
Weeping wall
Cirrus Mountain
Cirrus Mountain

 

Mistaya Canyon – very pretty!  There was a raven sitting at the edge of the pull-out, and his feathers were fluffed out all over his feet, I assume to keep them warm.  He didn’t want to move when I got close, but he eventually did, and looked a little put out.

A raven with fluffy feet covers
A raven with fluffy feet covers
Mistaya Canyon
Mistaya Canyon
Mistaya Canyon, Mount Sarbach in background
Mistaya Canyon, Mount Sarbach in background

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A small creature
A small creature

Athabasca Glacier – the glacier has retreated quite a way, but you can walk up almost to the face, to the frozen pool of water that sits in front of it.  Down one side you can see the exposed glacier, a beautiful deep blue, with layers and lines.  It was hidden away, most of the glacier is covered in snow.  On the walk up, there are lateral moraines (scree piles), tall on either side, and you climb up a terminal moraine.  Occasionally, the bedrock pokes through, and it is sleek and smooth to touch, slippery to walk on if wet, and you can see the lines scratched into it, from when the sheer mass of glacier was moving rocks across it.    The glacier is part of the Colombia Icefield, which is over 300m2, and feeds at least 8 glaciers.   It was pretty.  They had plenty of signs telling tourists not to try and walk on it, as people fall in to crevices and die.

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Handstand
Handstand
Glacier, ta-daa!
Glacier, ta-daa!
Glacial scrapings on rock
Glacial scrapings on rock
Lateral moraine
Lateral moraine

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Athabasca Glacier
Athabasca Glacier
Dale rolled down the hill
Dale rolled down the hill

 

 

Wild coyotes – Dale spotted one walking down a river, so we screeched to a stop, and jumped out to watch it.  It trotted down the river, peed on a rock, then continued on its way.  We spotted another one crossing the road in front of us further down the river, and we stopped to watch that one too.

Athabasca River
Tangle Ridge
Athabasca River
Athabasca River
Athabasca River
Coyote on the Athabasca River
Athabasca River
Athabasca River
Athabasca River
Athabasca River

There are around 100+ accommodation places that are guesthouses, located in the basement of peoples houses, in Jasper, a bit like in Field.  It seems to be a good way for people to make a bit extra from home.  Warm and snuggly, if no view, and we found a relatively cheap one for our few days in Jasper.  It was nice to have a lounge and space to ourselves.

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