In perfect weather our little convoy of 3 starts the long journey north.
The 144 mile drive north from Banff to Jasper along the Icefields Parkway should be on everybody’s bucket list. Every turn brought new spectacular vistas of snow covered mountains, glaciers and numerous animal sightings. Traffic can be slow because of either construction or congestion due to all the animals along the way. We saw black bear, mountain goats, big horn sheep, and elk along the way.
The 144 mile Icefield Parkway is the only route between Banff and Jasper.
The glass bottomed Glacier Skywalk, which juts out 1000ft over the valley below.
The beautiful glacial blue waters at the Saskatchewan River Crossing on the Icefields Parkway.
The mountain goats were right where they were supposed to be at the Goats and Glaciers sign.
It must feel good to finally get rid of that ratty old coat!
A large group of Bighorn Sheep that slowed up traffic.
Finally we came to the beautiful Athabasca Glacier, one of 6 principle ‘toes’ of the Columbia Icefield. This is the most visited glacier on the north American continent due to it’s easy accessibility but it may not be here long. It has lost 1.5 km and over half it’s volume in the last 125 years.
The Athabasca Glacier in the Columbia Icefields, taken from the Visitor Center across the road. The glacier extended all the way to the Visitor center 125 years ago.
From our campground in Jasper NP we came back down to the glacier so that we could explore it at our leisure. We arrived early so we could get into the parking lot at the bottom of the glacier and do the 1.4km hike up to the actual ice.
All around us people were carrying crampons, walking sticks and wearing heavy winter clothes. We looked like we were out for a summer stroll.
Now we realized why they were dressed the way they were. The higher we climbed the fiercer the winds and the colder it got!
Finally we got up to the glacier itself. Even Laia was freezing and had to be held to keep warm! The people with crampons were on tours and went out walking on the ice.
The glacier is massive with most of it not visible from this angle. The tiny little dots on the left are snow coaches going out onto the ice.
It was a thrilling to walk all the way up to the ice but alarming to see all the signs along the way marking where the ice had been just a few years ago.
Looking back down at the parking lot where the Glacier was in 1970 and in the far distance the visitor center which was under ice 125 years ago. Notice the erosion marks ground into the rocks.