Friday, February 9, 2018

Coming Full Circle - the Final Day of our Canada Road Trip

Fringed Grass-of-Parnassus
Dreams fulfilled.  Bighorn sheep and a bear.  Free entry into Parks Canada.   Staggering vistas.  Time with my Mom and my eldest sister.  In so many ways, our Canada road trip in August 2017 had already delivered (Day 1 post, Day 2 post, Day 3 post).  What could the final day bring?

As mentioned in the Day 2 post, our final day included deliberately re-tracing part of our outbound route - the Icefields Parkway.  We held back a few stopping points for the return journey, starting with Mt. Edith Cavell.  The Cavell area offers fragrant sub-alpine forest, new growth where a glacier recently retreated from the valley, flowery alpine meadows and spectacular views of Mt. Edith Cavell and the Angel Glacier.

Edith Louise Cavell (1865-1915) was a British nurse during World War I.  In 1907, she went to Brussels as a nurse, but by 1914 was put in charge of a unit whose main purpose was to help soldiers trapped behind enemy lines rejoin their units.  To the German army, this was treason, and she was executed by firing squad.  Today she is remembered as a heroine, and to some a martyr.  In 1916, the snow-capped face of this peak was renamed in her honor.

In 2017, access to the Cavell area was by permit only due to construction at the parking area; only 180 vehicle permits were issued each day at staggered times between 8.30 a.m. and 8 p.m.







The "Path of the Glacier" Trail takes you toward the great north face of Mt. Edith Cavell, across a rocky landscape recently covered with glacial ice. 
Cavell Glacier with Cavell Pond below

At the end of the trail, you get the best look at Angel Glacier, which forms in a large cirque, or bowl, largely hidden from view.  Very slowly, it flows out of the cirque toward you.  Some ice breaks over the vertical cliffs, forming the angel's 130-foot thick wings; the remainder plunges down a steep gully, forming the body.  This constant movement sometimes causes an ice avalanche, which makes it dangerous to climb beneath this hanging glacier.
Angel Glacier

In 2012 an ice avalanche fell into Cavell Pond, upstream from the end of the trail, displacing huge volumes of water.  The resulting 'flash' flood carried ice, rock and debris downstream, washing out the trail, deeply eroding the stream bed and littering the area with rocks.
Fireweed by the stream

Nevertheless, nature has a way of making a come-back; new growth of trees and flowers are reclaiming the landscape that was washed clean just five years ago.  We were so grateful that we were able to secure one of the daily permits to visit this unique mountain.

Our next stop was a layby offering an inspiring outlook on Stutfield Glacier (you see, the problem is not finding a glacier, it is trying to decide which ones are worthy of a stop for a photograph).  The smoke from forest fires still hung in the air, especially as we drove south.  So, this picture is not as crisp as I would like ... but it is a reminder of the true conditions during our visit.
Stutfield Glacier on top of the mountains in the distance
Glaciers form where more snow falls in winter than melts each summer.  As the snow gets thicker and heavier,
it compacts into dense glacial ice that slowly flows downhill, like a river of taffy.

On the road again, the Parkway soon whisked us to the Athabasca Glacier, one of the six principal 'toes' of the Columbia Icefield.  Easily accessible, it is the most visited glacier in North America.  
(Internet - my photos of the area are dim due to smoke from fires)

The glacier currently recedes at a rate of almost 16 feet per year and has receded about 1 mile and lost over half of its volume in the last 125 years.

Glacial scratch marks in the limestone




















At times, you are walking on glacially smoothed limestone surfaces that were under the ice in the 1950s.










The leading edge of the glacier is within easy walking distance from the parking lot; however, travel onto the glacier is not recommended unless properly equipped.  Hidden crevasses have led to the deaths of unprepared tourists.
Leading edge of the glacier is just across the stream

The glacier is approximately 3.7 miles long, covers an area of 2.3 square miles, and is measured between 300 - 980 feet thick.  In the area abandoned by the glacier, many people have built rock cairns.  All in all, it was a stark, barren landscape that I found a bit depressing.

So, time to move on.  Peyto Lake is a glacier-fed lake just west of the Parkway.  It was named for Bill Peyto, an early trail guide and trapper in the Banff area.











During the summer, significant amounts of glacial rock flour flow into the lake, and these suspended rock particles give the lake a bright, turquoise color.

Shortly after Peyto Lake, we passed the location on the Parkway where we had spotted the black bear on Day 2.  Since I have now learned the technique for loading videos, here is footage of the bear from that day.  It represents coming full circle, returning home ... with a carload of new memories that will last a lifetime.

Linking to 







40 comments:

  1. Oh how I enjoy the photos from your hikes...places I've never been and will probably never see. How interesting and fun for all of us to tag along with you! Enjoy your weekend!

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  2. ...there sure is a lot of beauty in this world, thanks for taking me along.

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  3. Wonderful nature photography of your trip ~ Bear and all!

    Happy Weekend to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

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  4. Hello, this is one of my bucket list trips. Your photos are wonderful, the glaciers are amazing. Love the bear video. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your day and weekend!

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  5. Wonderful trip, I read all four posts. We did it with our kids in '86, a lot more slowly. Hope to get back sometime soon.

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  6. What a fabulous part of our world to explore. How nice to be able to enjoy it with your mom and sister. Love the video of the bear...Hello! I'll have to rethink our adventures when we move to northeastern Washington.

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  7. Wow, great post. So interesting about Edith Louise Cavell. Love the water color of Peyto Lake!

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  8. Beautiful images of your holiday in Canada. I'm so glad you got to see a bear on your journey.

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  9. Wonderful photos, beautiful scenery and great history lessons. A sad story about Nurse Cavell who was only doing what she was trained to do. Great video of the bear.

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  10. That looks to be the trip of a lifetime Angie. Your photos and narrative give me a true understanding of glacier movement. I didn't know the story about Edith Cavell - true heroism that we should all admire.

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  11. Hello!:) Most enjoyable and informative post. How I would love to go on a trip like this with such awe inspiring scenic views. The turquoise lake is beautiful, and I enjoyed your bear video. Many thanks for taking us along.:)

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  12. Beautiful trip around Canada, it looks really nice.

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  13. Beautiful photos and lots of interesting info. What a great adventure this must have been. Thanks for sharing it.

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  14. The mountain park area is a great memorial to a brave heroine. And so beautiful ... the whole trip was amazing ... I would love to spend more time in Canada -- and thank you for sharing it with us. (I'm going back to look at the video now. I have a bad habit of forgetting to come back and comment when I get immersed in a video ... it's like falling down a rabbit hole for me.)

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  15. What a beautiful area. I have enjoyed visiting Lake Louise and Banff. Canada is such a wonderful country. :) Kit

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  16. So, Angie, let me ask you a question...you did this Canada trip in August? I'm trying to plan a few trips..:)JP

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  17. Nature certainly is fascinating, no matter where you go. And, I know that photos don't really show the real beauty but thanks for sharing. It sounds like a trip of a lifetime.

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  18. oh my gosh. I remember doing this when I lived in Edmonton. We went up to Lake Louise frequently, and Jasper. We went up to angel glacier. The columbia icefields is one of the most spectacular areas and so accessible. Right there next to the road, the mountains!

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  19. This looks awesome and raw nature! And you are fight, the abandoned parts look a little somber. Went long time ago to walk on a glacier - don't remember if it was in Switzerland or Austria, but it was very nice weather that day!
    Many thanks for sharing this epic journey of you and family members with All Seasons - unforgettable!

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  20. Bom dia, maravilhosas imagens convidativas a desfrutar da bela natureza, as fotos são lindas.
    Continuação de boa semana,
    AG

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  21. what a great trip in a stunning country. The Cavell Glacier seem to float in the air above the lake. Love it. Thanks for sharing!

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  22. Wow! Gorgeous photos. What a wonderful trip.

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  23. How fun to see your photos of a road we've driven many times. It's truly sensational, isn't it? Very sad about the receding glaciers. I love the colour of the water in the Rockies, all milky greens and blues from the mineral deposits in the water.
    So glad you enjoyed your trip to Canada's Rocky Mountains.

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  24. I pushed publish before I was done! The smoke was everywhere last year - it really hindered a lot of our photos, too.

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  25. I've wanted to go to Canada for years, but haven't made it yet. So far for us, so thank you for taking us along. Happy travels and thank you for visiting my blog last week.

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  26. Beautiful photos! That's cool how the mountain was named after a British WWI heroine.

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  27. Thanks so much for your comments on my blog. You have some lovely photos here on your whole blog, such a lovely blog. I love the mountains.

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  28. Beautiful images! Looks like a great tour.

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  29. This has been a great tour to be on with you, I especially enjoyed seeing the Athabasca Glacier and Peyto Lake both of which we visited on our trip to the area over 25 years ago. It's amazing to see how far the glacier has receded since then.

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  30. wow - how gorgeous!! what an amazing experience!!!

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  31. I saw stacked rocks like that at the bottom of a crater in Hawaii. No matter where you are in the world, people love to stack carins.

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  32. What a beautiful trip!
    P.S. I don't let the mealworms live long enough to become beetles Angie. They are popped into the fish tank or the plant. The worms can't crawl up the sides of the jar!

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  33. Thank you for your sweet comments at the Garden Spot. Your trip was absolutely amazing. Such a beautiful country.

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  34. Oh, yes, that awful smoke! But I see it didn't prevent you from taking some really spectacular photos. Wow!
    Kay
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

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  35. I read a book about Cavell. Love being taking on a wonderful hike.. Michelle

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  36. Such amazing views of those glaciers, Angie! It is sad that they are receding at such a tremendous rate. Nature is ever changing in such an ebb and flow. Who knows if trends will reverse? I enjoyed seeing the black bear. I was glad to hear recently that Montana has decided to not allow hunting of grizzlies. They were just taken off the endangered list, Colorado does not have any any longer.

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