Ice, Ice, Baby!
CANADA OR BUST, CHAPTER 13: IN WHICH WE LEARN WHERE THE ICE FLOWS
Day 15: Jasper, AB to Canmore, AB. Ah, Canada. We awoke to a bracing 28° this morning, reminding us of all we have to look forward to as the calendar moves toward the end of the year. After topping off our fuel in expectation of limited services ahead, we turned south on the famous Icefields Parkway connecting Jasper and Banff National Parks. Ranked by some as one of the most spectacular scenic drives in the world, Highway 93 follows river valleys through the Rocky Mountains, providing access to twelve glacial ice fields.
Because of its position so far north on the continental divide, Jasper National Park—with five significant river systems—encompasses rivers whose waters drain to the Arctic, Pacific, and even Atlantic Oceans. South of the Sunwapta Falls, the road followed a long glacial outwash plain, previous home of a glacial lake.
Rather than a remote location inaccessible except on the skywalk, it was located adjacent to the roadway, so there wasn't much except that frisson of walking out on glass above a deep canyon to distinguish it from the highway view. Thankful we had a preview of what to expect, we perused the Parcs Canada photography exhibit when we stopped at the Columbia Icefields Discovery Center rather than getting in the long line to buy $30 tickets for the Icewalk or the $55 opportunity to ride a large-tire bus onto Athabasca Glacier.
|Model of the Columbia Ice Field at the visitor center|
Around 3:30, we reached Lake Louise, which was insanely busy. Cars were parked bumper to bumper on the road shoulders a mile and a half before we reached the legendary Fairmont Hotel sitting on the lakeshore. At first we thought there was a festival or some other special event underway, but we were wrong. It was the norm for summer in Lake Louise.
|Busy approach to Lake Louise|
|Tourists jostle for elbow room on the shore of Lake Louise|
Rather than staying in the congested town of Banff, we drove a bit further south and checked into a one-bedroom condo at Stonebridge Mountain Resort in Canmore. After stocking up with groceries at the local Safeway, we moved into our spacious lodging and prepared dinner, looking forward to taking a day off tomorrow.
SATURDAY, 22 AUGUST 2015
- Miles driven: 227
- Miles walked: 3.4
- Weather: 39° to 72°, sunny
- Gas: $4.05/gallon (Jasper)
- Glaciers: 96
- Mule deer: 2
- Elk: 6
- Chipmunks: 6
- Cars at Lake Louise: 12,724