Tag Archives: Athabasca Glacier

Canadian Rocky Mountains: Day 6 Ice Fields Parkway

Once again you get a day from out camping trip. This week has been all about cleaning and getting ready for the school year. We start back on Tuesday. The teachers for the public schools are on strike in our province and there is not much hope for a settlement soon. So while we will be back at it most of the rest of the province will not be. If I was willing to take in a pair of kids I could make a little extra money doing daycare. Not going there!

Family at the Falls
Family at the Falls

Our time in Jasper is over and it is time to move on to our second camping spot in Banff. To get there we drove the Ice Fields Parkway. We knew we had a reserved spot in Banff so other than not wanting to set up in the dark we could take our time.

Athabasca Falls
Athabasca Falls

The first place we stopped was the Athabasca Falls. It was a short walk to see everything but it was still cool. The falls are impressive. Again this is glacial melt and that is the source of the color.

Athabasca Falls
Athabasca Falls

The first cool thing is there are fish above the falls but they don’t know how they got there. The prevailing theory is that human hand way back had something to do with it.

Athabasca Falls Abandoned Channel
Athabasca Falls Abandoned Channel

The second was that we were able to walk down an abandoned channel of the river. It was cool to see the effects that the water had on the rocks over the years. One point on the walk down was called a pothole and it was where the water had formed a whirlpool and had worn out a little round area. My wife at this point started channelling Ms Frizzle and had them pretend to be water molecules wearing down the rock. They pretended to be fish trying to get back up.

Pothole Athabasca Falls
Pothole Athabasca Falls
Kids Pretending to be water
Kids Pretending to be water

We also saw an Inuksuk (Wikipedia) on a cliff face. Us Canadians tend to build these as markers to say we have been there. Originally they were build by the native peoples of the north. They probably used them as landmarks in the barren tundra. I am figuring this one was built by young men since it was a fairly risky endeavour.

Inuksuk on a Cliff
Inuksuk on a Cliff

Our next stop was the one I was most looking forward to and the one that I was dreading. I remembered seeing the glaciers back in the 70s as a child. I knew that they would have changed in the many years since my last visit. I took a picture from the 1982 sign, you can’t even see the toe of the glacier from there. When I was there it was a much shorter and easier walk to the glacier. Now you can not even get to the glacier. The river runs in front of it and there is a lake under the toe making it unstable. This river is the Athabasca that we have seen a number of times on this trip.

As close as we can get to the Athabasca Glacier
As close as we can get to the Athabasca Glacier

I liked being able to see the thickness of the snow and ice on top. I don’t remember being able to do that when I was a child. Was it because I just didn’t notice our has it changed in some way in the last several decades.

Depth of Snow above Athabasca Glacier
Depth of Snow above Athabasca Glacier

We got into Banff around dinner time and got the tent set up. It was nice and clear but then I heard what I thought was thunder. We were trying to decide if it was my imagination (Danielle didn’t hear it), or in the next valley over. The second one I did see but it must have been in the next valley over and we couldn’t see the cloud. Looking it up online told me that it wasn’t uncommon for that to happen in the Rockies and that the concept of clear sky lightning wasn’t real. There is a cloud it is just farther away and the lightning can go quite a ways.

Kids on a bear
Kids on a bear

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