The Icefield Parkway - Banff to Hinton

Trip Start May 25, 2008
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Trip End Aug 03, 2008


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Flag of Canada  , Alberta,
Monday, June 9, 2008

Today was our 250 mile drive through two national parks - Banff & Jasper. We did the highlight of Banff NP with our tour of Lake Louise yesterday. Today, our main stop was to be a tour on a glacier. I've never done that before so it should be a little adventure. On our drive this morning, our first stop was an overlook of Lake Peyto. This is yet another one of those lake's with a turquoise blue color. The lake was about 1,000 feet below and we would have taken the trail except it was steep and still covered in ice. So we took a one mile trail around the rim. There were many people at the lookout, but once you get just a little ways away there is hardly anyone one around. Being the Canadian parks system, we took the dogs for the walk too. Since not many people were around we let Queque off the leash to run around in the snow - most of this trail was covered in snow. I know this sounds mean, but sometimes I would throw Queque in a snow bank and watch her climb out of it. I don't think she minded at all. She had so much fun just running around and sniffing for animal smells. Back in the RV we drove for another hour to a place called the Icefields Center. It is put up by a joint effort of Parks Canada and a private tour company called Brewtser - kinda like our Aramark in our national parks. The main attraction was to ride this HUGE tractor type vehicle onto a Glacier.   The actually place is called the Columbia Icefield. The icefield sits in a bowl of high mountains. This ice has been accumulating for thousands of years. It is around 325 square kilometers - this is Canada so we have to use KM. When the compressed ice needs a release, it spills out from the sides via a glacier. The glacier we were to ride on is called Athabasca Glacier which is 6 km long. The price to do this was a little steep for us - $36 per person for the hour plus tour. By the end of the trip, we were glad we did. It is well worth the splurge. You first travel via bus to the edge of the glacier on the moraine. A moraine is the rock and sand the glacier leaves behind. This moraine was about 300 feet high!!! At the moraine we got on what is called an Ice Explorer. This thing cost $750,000, and each tire - 6 of them - cost $5,000 each. (I thought mine at $210 a pop were expensive). It is also 6 wheel drive with computer driven transmission. The engine is a Detroit Diesel. It needs this power to go down and up a 45 degree hill. After descending this hill we were riding on a glacier - a river of ice. About midway on the glacier we got out and took a 20 min. walk around. While most people hung around the trucks, Pooh and I and a few other brave souls took off on a brisk walk to the edge of the icefield - or as far as we could go. We did get so far as to where the people looked like little small specks. At times our feet would sink down a little. This was one of those "wow!" moments you have in your life. Just standing on this glacier with high snow covered mountains and more glaciers above you, could not be told in words. In no time at all, we had to head back. The whole trip took just over an hour, but these memories will last a lifetime. (the $75 bucks we spent will now only fill 1/3 a tank in Canada!!). After this we were very hungry to I drove to RV to a back parking lot to set up a temporary camp for lunch. To do this we leave the RV hooked to the truck and just open up the slides inside. Since we only run on battery power, electrical appliances will not work. So we have to rely on the propane powered oven or stove-top.   This time for lunch we had a college favorite - Raman noodles. However, we have the Indian style so as to give it a little kick with the spices. I parked the RV so we could have lunch with a view of the glacier - priceless viewing. After lunch we went on with the drive. After another hour we did stop again at the Athabasca Falls. Yes, another waterfall  - I can't seem to get enough of these things. Being snowmelt, the waterfall was pretty full. This time, it fell in a canyon where it pooled around so much it created sinks. We spent about an hour here with the dogs walking along on the trails and view-points. Now came another two hours of driving to our destination in Hinton, Alberta which is an hour outside the parks and down the mountain. Again, this part of the drive was still awesome. Hinton, however, was just an OK city. We stayed at the KOA which is located in a large farm area a few miles outside Hinton. The town is built on the forestry industry with a few pulp mills in the area. It is very dusty here. During this trip, I am using a TomTom GPS device. It had done me well, up to this point when now, half the roads are wrong - I guess TomTom does not do Canada well. Now, the cold rain started to fall and I needed to fix my bike-rack (there is always something to fix on this trip). But when we got back to camp, it was raining harder and I was worn out. I did a little blogging but the internet was so slow I hardly downloaded any videos or pictures. As I was going to bed, Pooh was busy fixing little things here - and it was mid-night!
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