Nancy's Travelblogue

... there isn't a train I wouldn't take, no matter where it's going. -- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Location: California, United States

Friday, June 26, 2009

MONTANA CANADA TRIP. Day 11. Banff to Jasper

Today was an amazing day of mountains, glaciers, rivers and waterfalls, and changing weather. We left Banff early for our drive to Jasper National Park by way of Lake Louise. We drove up Hwy 93, nicknamed Icefields Parkway, for reasons we would soon learn. The highway was built in the late 1930s by a Canadian version of the Civilian Conservation Corps. The guide books tout this as the most scenic highway in the world, and I would surely rate it in my top 10. And I've seen a lot of scenic highways in my life.

Our first destination was Lake Louise, my request because friends told me it is less “done-up” than Banff and would be more to my liking. Indeed, it was. The lake (named after one of Queen Victoria’s daughters) is a turquoise gem set within the high mountains. The gray-turquoise color is caused by silt that slides into it with each year’s snowmelt. It turns deeper blue as the summer progresses and the silt settles. We walked to the end of the lake and back, sorry we couldn’t spend more time there. Here is a good view:

Back on Icefield Parkway, we had plenty of opportunity to view glaciers, or what is left of them. There are seven large glaciers and twenty-five smaller ones along the Icefields Parkway. We were reminded once again that we are witnessing an endangered geological phenomenon. It was most clear when we stopped at the Athabasca Glacier. In the mid 1800s this glacier extended across what is now the highway and covered the parking lot. Look at it now and draw your own conclusions.

I'm sorry that the subject of climate change is so fraught with political overtones. The changes are real, and measurable, and easily observed in northern latitudes.

As if we didn’t get enough great scenery, we took two short detours to see the Sunwapta Falls and Athabasca Falls. Both are canyons where the Sunwapta and Athabasca rivers respectively change course suddenly from a shallow river bed to steep, narrow canyons with tremendous force. Here is a photo of Athabasca Falls.

We arrived at Fairmont Park Lodge Jasper, our splurge hotel, for a late supper overlooking the lake. It was still light outside when I turned out the light at 11 p.m. Here is our view from the dining patio.

ACCOMMODATIONS: Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge ***

More photos



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