Day 11, Sunday, 4/29/18
3131.7 miles
Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

After the crowds and busyness of Banff, it was nice to head into the wilderness. On the way out of town, we stopped at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. A cave with hot springs was found by 3 Canadian Pacific Railway workers in 1875. They later tried to claim the area but the Canadian government stepped in and appropriated it and some surrounding land. This is the birthplace of Canada's national parks.

There's a small hot spring along a walking path up Sulphur Mountain. It's the only known home of a small (the size of a popcorn kernel) snail called the Banff Spring snail.

Home to endangered Banff Spring snail
Hot spring flowing out
The Basin
Wildlife Corridor
Leaving Banff on Route 1, there are what look like overpasses but are really wildlife corridors allowing animals to move freely across the highway. Last time we were here with Di and Bill, they were all over the highway!! Deer, Elk and Caribeau

Route 1 passes near Lake Louise so we decided to check it out. We had hoped to see Lake Moraine but the road was closed. It's a short drive up to the lake and the first thing you see is the Chateau, an old railroad destination for those bold rusticators from New York, Philadelphia and Boston.

Chateau Lake Louise
Still lots of snow!
Lake Louise at the end of April

In spite of the sign saying 'Thin Ice!', people were still wandering on to the lake. One particularly hearty soul decided to walk right up to the edge of the ice where he started to sink into the slush. Hope he doesn't have any kids...

Things are looking up!
Can you spell 'idiot'?
From Lake Louise, it was off to Wapiti campground near the town of Jasper via Highway 93, also known as the Icefields Parkway. It winds its way along the Continental Divide through some of the peaks in the Rockies, past glaciers and icefields. This road is impressive. The highest point is 6,785 feet at Bow Pass. Driving 93, you're surrounded by mountain peaks, some with great names: Noseeum Peak, Mosquito Mountain, Mt Weed. There are visible avalanches on both sides of the road here. It is a high mountain pass where we experienced snow squalls and the signs all say keep your chains on!!There are quite a few campgrounds, though I think I'd stay away from the Mosquito Creek Campground!

Just past Wilcox Peak is the Columbia icefield. An icefield is made up of interconnected glaciers. Across the street from the Athabasca glacier is the Glacier Discovery Center. This is operated by a commercial company called Pursuit. In spite of the cloudy weather with poor visibility, the parking lot was full of tour buses. Pursuit offers trips on the glacier in modified buses. They also have this thing called the Athabasca Glacier Skywalk. The skywalk is a few minutes from the discovery center and not visible from the road, so we didn't get to see it. From the pics, it's an impressive looking piece of engineering. Very commercial.

The discovery center has a large deck overlooking the glacier. Even though the clouds were low and the wind was howling, we managed to catch a view of Athabasca. Back in the center, we bought an over-priced cup of coffee and got back into the van.

About an hour up the road, we saw this amazing 4-legged creature called a grizzly bear - welcome to Jasper! (Interesting fact: Jasper is the world's largets dark sky preserve.) Shortly after we turned into Wapiti campground for the evening.  The word 'Wapiti' has it's roots in a First Nation word 'waapiti' which has it's roots in the word 'wap' meaning white. So what we call 'elk' is really a 'wapiti'. The name is very descriptive - identify a wapiti by its white butt, which is what 'wapiti' means.

This was a really nice campground, and it was really cold out. The walk to the river is beautiful! The facilities are heated with hot showers and hot bathrooms to get dressed in. but cooking breakfast was cold!! Lots of people around us here.

The most remarkable is the Jurassic park car with a fold out tent mounted on top. There is a little ladder to get up to the flap!!

We are sharing the driving equally and will spend the next 4 days in the car!! To get to Alaska.

Heading NW to Jasper 
Bow Lake
Embraced by the Rockies
A beautiful gray day
Columbia Icefields
Tourists blocking the view!

Driving the Icefield Parkway I was reminded of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Both men had trouble re-integrating into civilization, particularly Merriwether Lewis who had a drinking problem and probably committed suicide. After almost 2.5 years packing through the American wilderness, I can imagine how difficult it must have been getting used to the bustle of a city. We just downloaded a book on the expedition through Audible and will be listening as we drive.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting tent rig on top of the car. Cool to see the grizzly bear also!