Sunday, September 16, 2007

Walking on Thick Ice

I didn't realize it could only get better. Banff was gorgeous. Robert and I hiked the Tunnel Mountain Trail along the Bow River to town. It took us through the valley floor through alpine meadows and pine forests to the waterfalls below the Banff Springs Hotel. Later, we all rode the gondola to the top of Sulfur Mountain (no discernible smell there.) I wished we had a little more time to explore, but we needed to get on to Lake Louise with Drew and Cathy before they had to go home. Having them along was like having personal tour guides; they are familiar with the area as well as knowledgeable about the things we were seeing like Moraine Lake and the Rockpiles. This is where the glacier flow ends leaving boulders piled high and haphazard like thy were moved by a giant bulldozer. The color of the lake is stunningly aqua due to the sunlight reflecting off the mineral particles suspended in the water. Lake Louise is the same but bigger with a grander view. This seems to be everyone's favorite, but like Drew, we were drawn to the more intimate setting of Moraine. That's Allison looking out on the aqua water. (No Photoshop magic here, I promise!)

It was goodbye to Drew and Cathy and hello to Grant and Joanne in Jasper. The three hour drive might have felt out to the way, but what a drive it was. We follow the spine of the Canadian Rockies so that the thrill never ends. What, more pines, waterfalls, lakes, and big blue sky? When does it end? Along the way is the Columbia Icefields. Although we were cruising in 70 degrees Fahrenheit, suddenly we were presented with this enormous ice field and chilling wind. We only stepped onto the very end of the Icefield. To go further, you need to be prepared. There are enormous crevasses and spots where the ice can give way. Robert was told that people occasionally fall into a crevasse, and can instantly freeze before being freed. So, I only braved a path along the correct side of the roped-off section. I would love to go back and take a serious hike on the glacier. I want to jump a cravasse like this guy in a photo I snagged off the Icefield website.

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