wildlyrandom

Our camping trip in British Columbia, Canada, including a drop down to Yellowstone National Park.

Category: mindfulness

Icefields Parkway

[September 14th]

The nagging thought of the possibility of ice on the road (the weather, after all, is not all that predictable of late) has sent adrenaline coursing through my veins for far too long… I have to keep reminding myself time and again, to come back to the present moment!
Finally that nagging moment arrives, and of course, there is ice only way up high…

…mesmerizing glaciers around every corner.

The long anticipated Icefields Parkway.

icefieldsparkwaymap

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Icefields Parkway, dry as bone

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Crowfoot Glacier

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Bow Lake [photo by Hugo]
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Bow Glacier0019f0019h

The amble to Peyto Lake took us up a fairly steep path flanked by light snow, passing several very interesting information boards.
What a spectacular sight!
On the return down, I am ashamed to admit, I was attacked by a Ptarmigan; I had spotted him foraging just off the path and could not bring myself to gather up my camera and move on until he decided to help me on my way by storming me. I felt bad for hours afterward for having disturbed him in his very own territory to that extent!

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Moving on up, the much anticipated Columbia Icefield (and Jasper National Park) looms ahead of us.
We are a little parched by this time so head for coffee before settling down in one of the comfortable chairs provided on the deck of the Icefield Centre, in the howling wind, to soak in the sun and the sights.

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The Columbia Icefield is a surviving remnant of the thick ice mass that once mantled most of Western Canada’s mountains. Lying on a wide, elevated plateau, it is the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies.

The Athabasca is the most-visited glacier on the North American continent. Situated across from the Icefield Centre, its ice is in continuous motion, creeping forward at the rate of several centimeters per day. Spilling from the Columbia Icefield over three giant bedrock steps, the glacier flows down the valley like a frozen, slow-moving river. Because of a warming climate, the Athabasca Glacier has been receding or melting for the last 125 years. Losing half its volume and retreating more than 1.5 kms, the shrinking glacier has left a moonscape of rocky moraines in its wake.
~ taken from: http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/jasper/activ/explore-interets/glacier-athabasca.aspx

The RIVERS! That COLOUR! It truly is a wonderland!

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Next stop, Athabasca Falls:

A powerful, picturesque waterfall, Athabasca Falls is not known so much for the height of the falls (23 meters), as it is known for its force due to the large quantity of water falling into the gorge. Even on a cold morning in the fall, when river levels tend to be at their lowest, copious amounts of water flow over the falls. The river ‘falls’ over a layer of hard quartzite and through the softer limestone below carving the short gorge and a number of potholes. The falls can be safely viewed and photographed from various viewing platforms and walking trails around the falls.
~ taken from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athabasca_Falls

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Tourists are a dead giveaway; you see them causing traffic obstructions wherever there is something to be seen… we are most definitely tourists!
Animals with horns like this are only seen in books after all…

0019w0019w10019w2There were no females in sight and we did keep our distance… I’m sure it was 30meters.

The awesome wonder of a day is drawing to a close and we need to find our campsite:
Another cozy spot amongst the tallest of trees.
Another fairytale river running through it.
A watering can with which to do our little bit.

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Sleep comes easily this night.
On the morrow we will have to weather my miscalculation…

Thought for the day from Robert Holden:
It is because the world is so full of suffering,
that your happiness is a gift.
It is because the world is STILL so full of poverty,
that your wealth is a gift.
It is because the world can be so unfriendly,
that your smile is a gift.
It is because the world is so full of war,
that your peace of mind is a gift.
It is because the world is in such despair,
that your hope and optimism is a gift.
It is because the world is so afraid,
that your love is a gift.

~ The Happiness Project Mission Statement

Banff National Park

[September 13th]

We really do need to pinch ourselves on this day as we set out to explore Banff National Park, which, only a few months ago, coming from dusty Africa, seemed like an impossible dream; a place of beauty we could hardly imagine, a place of unimaginable hues in blue and white, mountains looming large and icy conditions.

It did not disappoint.

And so, on the morning of the 13th, after a hearty breakfast, we continued from our campsite along the Bow Valley Parkway which would take us right up to Lake Louise. There was consensus, when exploring the area online, that Lake Louise should not be missed. One really needs to hang around for a very long time to enjoy this area with all it has to offer, but we have only one day, so elimination had to be ruthless.

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Breath-taking!

As the lake came into sight, it literally took my breath away!

Photos capture only the minutest fragments of the whole sensation of breath-taking wonder. I would like to just sit down and absorb it all… but try as I may I need to take photos, the compulsion to share is uncontrollable and yet nowhere near even good enough.

0018c0018d0018ethe 2 km stroll around the lake

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looking back towards Fairmont Chateau, from where we first set eyes on the lake

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Hugo walks up to Mirror Lake. Time is of the essence and I will not be able to walk fast enough – my steps are much smaller just for starters…

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Finally it is time to move on. We head out to Moraine Lake. The road up is closed. There is a man sitting on the boom and cars are lined up. We wait. It soon becomes apparent that as cars drive out, others are allowed in. The queue is not long and thus our wait neither.
The 11km road, lined with the tallest trees allowing only glimpses of towering snow-capped peaks, winds its way up to the lake with cars parked along the road long before the end point. We decide that it is worth going all the way up as someone is bound to leave sooner or later. Sure enough, as we drive into the parking area, we replace the spot a visitor has vacated right before our eyes. By now we are ravenous so linger awhile to enjoy the lunch we packed in, surrounded now by those snow-capped mountains towering above us.

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We will be looking for a rockpile. This is the quickest and easiest climb to achieve elevation to view the lake. The vision I have in my mind never equals reality, but in this case, the rockpile, right beside the lake, cannot be mistaken.

Moraine Lake, situated in the picturesque Valley of the Ten Peaks, is glacier fed and only half the size of Lake Louise. Melt water from the glacier brings with it rock flour or silt and it is the reflection off this that creates the spectacular colour.

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we do the lakeside walk

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the glacier feeding the lake

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I am reluctant to leave once again, but the day is drawing to a close and we have one more stop before heading back to camp.

Johnston Canyon.

Much as the photos of the canyon are enticing, my fear of heights is turning me into a less than happy chappy at the thought of actually doing the walk. Fortunately for me, time is on my side which means the turning point is reached at the lower falls. I am sure Hugo is more than disappointed to have to turn around, but then he did spend an extra 2 hours at Lake Louise hiking to Mirror Lake while I waited for him down below; I think it is fair to call it quits.

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lower falls

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Tomorrow we hit the Icefields Parkway… and please may there be no ice!

 

 

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