I can see clearly now the rain, oops smoke, has gone!
We awoke on our last day in Jasper to a valley full of mist and fog, couldn’t see any smoke. About 10 am the mist and fog had lifted and we had a relatively clear sky and the smoke had almost all gone. So we were off down to the Columbia Icefield to do the Athabasca Glacier Adventure and the Sky Walk. Homealone had already decided to pass the Skywalk opportunity. It is about an hour and half down the road, but we stopped here and there for some clearer pictures of the mountains and the valleys. There are a lot of mountains and valleys and as a result a lot of pictures as well.
We arrived at the Icefields Centre around 12.30pm and found out we had to wait about 2 hours to get a slot on the tour, it was going to be long day as the tours went for around 2.5 hours. So Allthego had an expensive lunch of a very average semi warm burger and chips, Homealone had some luke warm soup and some of the chips. We then watched a documentary type film on the mountains. It was an arty thing. As a young boy this chap finds a small rock on a mountain walk, carries it with him for years and then as a 20s something on a snow shoe hike across a glacier it falls out of his pocket into a crevasse, then many years later as an old bloke he is walking around the mountains and finds the rock again. He puts it in a stream for someone else to find………………great scenery …………a bit mystical…..there was a message to it all I suppose.
The film filled in some time and we set off in the big troop carrier up the side of the Athabasca Glacier, then climbed up a steep track over the side moraine and then down onto the glacier. There was a grader on the ice keeping a track clear for us as we progressed towards the centre. There were about 6 of these big buses, they hold about 50 people. So there were about 300 people on the ice in the roped off area. Homealone had joggers on so she was slipping around a bit on the ice, Allthego’s hiking boots gave a bit more grip but care was still required. An Indian chap in sandals kindly loaned his walking stick for balance. There were a lot of selfie takers in action all jockeying for positions.
You didn’t really see much of the features of the glacier so it was like going for a short walk on a big ice block. The glacier has been retreating since the late 1800s at about 30 m a year, there are various pictures around to prove this. The glacier I think is about 3 km long (will stand to be corrected and will check) so at the current rate it will be gone in about 100 years and probably not impressive in 50. But it has been coming and going periodically over the last 10,000 years or so. Interesting experience being actually on a glacier, but Allthego has been on a bit of hard packed slippery snow before. The Icefields Centre also runs small party trips on the glacier looking at the features to be found there, crevasses, fissures and so on. That would be different.
After this we headed off to the Skywalk. This is one of those high up places hanging over a deep gorge. The Sunwapta River is about 1000 ft below. Now this is selflie taker paradise! Allthego had no trouble getting one of the guides to take a few pictures of himself out on the Skywalk. Pretty good views up and down the valley. Great spot and well done! Homealone had gone back to the Icefields Centre for a cup of tea.
Allthego finished up bout 6pm on the Skywalk and we headed back to Jasper. Going through town we stopped for dinner. Readers will remember the big bull elk from the last blog. Well Allthego thought he would try some Elk meatloaf at the Jasper Brewing Company. Quite tasty with the mushroom and bacon sauce. Homealone didn’t have this and neither of us can remember what she had.
We crawled into bed at the cabin around 11pm. We leave Jasper in the morning aboard the Via Canada train for Prince Rupert out on the coast.