Banff Ice Fields.
The Ice Fields are the Athabasca Glacier, which is over 750 ft deep and about a mile wide and many miles long. The actual glacier is one of 5 in this immediate area, and it is shrinking by 10 meters / yards each year we were told. There is a marker across the road past where we parked showing the extent of the glacier in 1843. After a long wait, we rode up to the base of the glacier on a regular bus. Then we transferred to a specialized Ice Explorer with 6 tires that are 5ft tall and 3ft wide, 1000/50R25. Notice the size of the tires next to a full sized pickup. The top speed is 10mph and they are worth CD$1.3 million. They took us up half way on the glacier, with grades up to 35%, where we were able to walk on the glacier. Some people brought empty bottles to collect glacier water that was flowing down the glacier. We didn’t do this but were told the water is very pure. The entire tour took about an hour, and there are 12 Ice Explorers in operation, out of 20 they own, and each one holds 54 people. The weather changed every hour or so and while we were waiting it fogged in the entire mountain. By the time it was our turn it cleared up, but by the time we got to the turn around point in the glacier it was sleeting. The operation opens in April and completes by the end of September.
They also have a Sky Walk, like the one over the Grand Canyon, which also is all glass in a half circle out over the glacier. We didn’t take this tour but drove by it and it didn’t look as interesting as the one over the Grand Canyon.
One interesting fact we were told is one of the mountains, Snow Dome that is over 13,000 ft tall, is the only peak in the Rocky Mountains where the run off water flows to 3 Oceans, East to the Atlantic, West to the Pacific and North to the Artic.
If you click the > at the top right it will give you a slide show.
The drive from Lake Louise is very pretty, but the road gets a little rough about 30 miles from the Ice Fields, all the way to Jasper. We are now getting into the Canadian mountain passes, with the highest so far over 6,700 ft. We are staying at another primitive National Park Campground. Hope this is the last National Park Campground we stay at.
Tomorrow we go up the mountain in a gondola for breakfast at the peak and then the rest of the day is free to try to find a Wi-Fi hot spot, which seems to be the electronic challenge in Canada. I’ll probably have to work some more to secure the awning. Fun on the road. It is raining once again as we turn in for the night.
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