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Unread 13 Aug 18, 07:43 PM  
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Gunna
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Canadian Rockies Road Trip July 2018 - Day 6 - Off to Jasper, Icefield Parkway & Athabasca Glacier

Today we where leaving Banff on the next stage of our adventure. We loved this part of the Rockies and Banff was even better than we could of imagined. We had spoken with Sam about when he is in University he could spent the summer across there working and having a great few months in the mountains as there seemed to be plenty of summer work available and lots of students taking advantage of it. The car was packed up and we where ready for off by 9am, the reception was open so I popped in to check there was nothing else we needed to do and then we where on the road and away.

Traffic was busier near Banff and on the way up to Lake Louise but I put this down to the later hour we where driving this road again. We had pre-booked our tour on the Athabasca Glacier so knew when we had to be there but this also allowed for some stops on the way to our next accommodation stop too. Part way down the road we saw another traffic jam so pulled over and got out to see what was happening as there was a crowd gathered, luckily this time too as I got out of the car I managed not to hit the horn. Rumblings went round that a bear had been spotted in the bushes eating berries and sure enough one soon came into view enjoying an early morning snack.



This bear was a lot closer than the previous one we had seen so we decided to head back to the car as this was also closer than what was recommended. We started to head back and people then where saying that he had wandered off anyway, which to be honest we wasn't surprised at as there had been a group of people running up and down the roadside squealing and screaming at the sight of him. As we started to turn back to the car Kirsty heard a rustle to her side turned and the bear poked his head back out of the bushes very close and looking for more berries. It certainly took her by surprise but she quietly backed away and headed back to us and the car and then some of the squealing crowds spotting him and started running up and down and shouting again. This made him turn around and wander back away from the roadside and back into the safety of the trees.

Back in the car we set off again for our first official stop of Peyto Lake. It wasn't too far down the road and we turned off the highway to the car park. It was busy here but we managed to get parked after I had tried to reverse park numerous times into a spot for one to become available in front so I moved. It was then a short but uphill walk to the viewing platform over the lake.





The lake had that wonderful green hue to it from the minerals and particles that are in the water and it looked beautiful from the elevated viewing spot. The platform wasn't a big place and as a few coaches had pulled in it was busy with a people admiring the view. I thought the lake looked a bit like a hand reaching through the valley when I looked at it. What amazed me was the number of people who felt it necessary to climb over the barrier and onto the rocks and cliffs to take photos. These are always there for a reason and later in our trip we read about people who had died or where they had been washed away for ignoring safety barriers and signs, like it said no photo is worth that cost.

We then headed back to the car and my calves where killing me today, I think after the horse riding then the hike up and down to Lake Agnes I didn't realize the effect this would have on my legs. I was hobbling around and although driving wasn't a problem initially when I walked it took a while to get going. I though my running would stand me in good stead but maybe not. We are then on the road and driving up towards the Icefields Parkway. We had also planned to stop at Mistaya Canyon but it looked like the parking lot was closed as there was construction work going on and the Weeping Wall too which we seem to miss. We did find some viewpoints though and stopped to take in the view and some photos.



The weather was more changeable today with sun, overcast skies, rain and clouds, we seemed to get a bit of everything on the drive up. We where soon on the parkway and this was a great drive. We passed by the Crowfoot Glacier and the scenery was beautiful up here. We arrive at the Columbia Icefield Glacier Centre and have a little bit of time before the start of our tour so head inside. There are a lot of coach trips in and its quite busy and we discover that our tour has been pushed back about an hour due to an earlier thunderstorm. This gives us some extra time to have a look round the shop and museum as well as grab a coffee and take in the view.



Kirsty had grabbed us a table and it was a great spot to see the glacier. As our tour time approached the clouds had also rolled in again, the rain had started and the thunder was rumbling too. We boarded the bus and headed off to the transfer station where you get onto the ice transporters and once we arrived you couldn't even see the glacier anymore the clouds had dropped so much. It was weird, really barren and bare and the guide said a glacier is like natures reset switch as nothing is left once it has passed/retreated. It was fascinating. We were held on the bus whilst they decided if it was safe to head onto the ice and if we could would we then be allowed to get off the bus. Sam was nervous with the thunder but someone again was watching over us and we were finally given the green light to not only board but disembark onto the ice. As we set off in the ice transporter we even saw some blue skies so all was looking good.



It was a slow journey and at one point very steep as we headed down, soon we are on the glacier and after a short while parked up and allowed to get off the bus and have a walk.





It was quite surreal on there. It was very quiet and like its own eco-climate. From the relative warmth of the visitor centre and sights of the parkway I was surprised how cold it was. Sam said to me what did I expect it was a massive block of ice! It was also windy which made it feel really cold, much colder than I expected it to be.







To be honest I didn't know how I would feel about this. I had read reviews on it and the majority said how good it was but I did initally think that it was basically the chance to walk on a huge block of moving ice. Once there I have to admit I was blown away by it, sometimes nature has a way of just amazing me and hearing about the glaciers really impressed me and gave me a new appreciation as I stood on one. It was also scary to think about the rate they are receding, how they could soon be gone and the impact global warming is having. Food for thought indeed. We filled up a water bottle with some fresh glacier water as well as tried a bit, ready chilled of course, before it was time to head off the ice and onto the next stage of our adventure





Sam had done Geography at school so thought this was fantastic, from being worried about the thunder he soon forgot all about it and loved exploring the ice and reading the information boards. Back on the bus we headed back down to the transfer station and then onto a different bus which would take us to the final stop here, the sky-walk. This was relatively new and was a walkway along the mountainside ending at a glass walkway over the valley for some amazing views. Our driver is a local guy, slightly nuts, but great fun and he makes the 10 minute journey pass by quickly cracking jokes. At the entrance to the sky-walk we all get off and head off to the main part.



I had been doing well with my heights fear so was happy to give it a go. The views on the way to the walk and down into the valley where breathtaking again and there was a river with lots of little waterfalls feeding into it.



This part of the trip wasn't too busy so by the time we where at the sky-walk there wasn't too many people about so you could walk on there without having to deal with too many crowds. The whole floor of the walkway is glass but I didn't find it too nerve wracking at all, it was high but didn't really move in the wind. We spent a bit of time on here admiring the scenery, taking photos and maybe Sam jumped a bit on the glass as most teenagers would of done, I'm sure to see if they can make it move.





We then go back to the bus and board to head back to the visitor centre. We pick up some refreshments and are soon back in the car for the final leg of the journey to Jasper. We had planned to stop at the waterfalls the next day so concentrated more on driving to our accommodation and enjoying the scenery from the comfort of the car as it had started to rain again now, think we even popped the heated seats on too. We are soon in Jasper and find our place on the outskirts if the town, Bear Hill Lodge. It a small group of cabins and lodges and we check in to our cabin for the next three nights, the lady at check in told us it had snowed the day before higher up in the mountains, we thought this was mad in July. Its lovely and cosy and once we have dropped the bags head into town.



Jasper is smaller and more quieter than Banff, it had a real charm about it and was a place I really liked. I also loved this Totem pole based on the story of the two brothers and I still need to have a look if I can get the book online somewhere to read more about it. There was also a train station here with those huge trains we always tended to see in Canada, the ones where there is one engine and hundreds of trucks and containers being pulled slowly along. We find a local brewpub and wait a short 10 minutes for a table given its a Friday night I thought that was okay and enjoy some great food washed down with some equally good brews too. We walk back to the lodge and are soon in our comfy beds and fast asleep, again we needed no help nodding off today.
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Unread 13 Aug 18, 08:07 PM  
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Campinggirl
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ooh exciting. I'm just about to start a pre-trip report as we are heading to Vancouver and the rockies on Wednesday. I haven't 100% decided on the glazier walk. Looks like I need to pack more warm clothes in case we decide to do it!
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Unread 13 Aug 18, 10:12 PM  
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Gunna
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Originally Posted by Campinggirl View Post
ooh exciting. I'm just about to start a pre-trip report as we are heading to Vancouver and the rockies on Wednesday. I haven't 100% decided on the glazier walk. Looks like I need to pack more warm clothes in case we decide to do it!
It was chilly and our weather was cooler in Jasper, that said we still got sun and it did get warm.

Up on the glacier was cold though but a great experience
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Unread 14 Aug 18, 02:53 AM  
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parisdisneyfan
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Looks great, we think we will get there this week! I'm unsure about the skywalk, I found the last bit with steps up and down at Agnes tea room hard to do! I know what you mean about getting going, it is my hips as well as calves!

Really hope we get to see some wildlife like you, would love to see a bear!
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Unread 14 Aug 18, 09:35 AM  
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That bear was very close, but what a fantastic photo!

I loved the colour of Peyto Lake, but I remember feeling stressed by our experience there because it so busy. People didnt wait their turn for a photo either - wed been patiently waiting for people to take their photos, before moving towards the railings for ours, then people whod just arrived would push right in front or just to the side, or even climbing through the barriers like you observed too, so we ended up with several shots with other people arms or faces right behind us. While it was thankfully only a few minutes walk, it was definitely steep going up to the viewpoint though, especially as I wasnt wearing trainers - Ill confess to having to stop a couple of times to get my breath. Do you think I can blame the high elevation rather than my lack of fitness?

We found the car park for Mistaya Canyon closed too when we tried to stop there.

Great photos of the glacier tour. I was surprised that I didnt find it slippery under foot. We also filled a water bottle, but goodness my hands were freezing cold after that and took ages to warm up!

We liked Jasper too and would have like to have spent more time there. Its just another reason to return!
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Unread 14 Aug 18, 06:53 PM  
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Gunna
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Originally Posted by parisdisneyfan View Post
Looks great, we think we will get there this week! I'm unsure about the skywalk, I found the last bit with steps up and down at Agnes tea room hard to do! I know what you mean about getting going, it is my hips as well as calves!

Really hope we get to see some wildlife like you, would love to see a bear!
Id recommend the skywalk, it was a flat easy short route from the bus drop off point with no up and downs so made a nice change which my legs appreciated!
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Unread 14 Aug 18, 06:57 PM  
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Gunna
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Originally Posted by jocat View Post
That bear was very close, but what a fantastic photo!

I loved the colour of Peyto Lake, but I remember feeling stressed by our experience there because it so busy. People didnt wait their turn for a photo either - wed been patiently waiting for people to take their photos, before moving towards the railings for ours, then people whod just arrived would push right in front or just to the side, or even climbing through the barriers like you observed too, so we ended up with several shots with other people arms or faces right behind us. While it was thankfully only a few minutes walk, it was definitely steep going up to the viewpoint though, especially as I wasnt wearing trainers - Ill confess to having to stop a couple of times to get my breath. Do you think I can blame the high elevation rather than my lack of fitness?

We found the car park for Mistaya Canyon closed too when we tried to stop there.

Great photos of the glacier tour. I was surprised that I didnt find it slippery under foot. We also filled a water bottle, but goodness my hands were freezing cold after that and took ages to warm up!

We liked Jasper too and would have like to have spent more time there. Its just another reason to return!
We also found that at Peyto Lake, people pushing and not allowing those that had waited space to take their pictures. We just managed to get ours before some others came and got in the way, I do think the high elevation and thinness of the air effected our walking and we did find us taking more deep breaths and breaks than we would do at home.

That glacier was definitely cold, more so than I imagined and I did enjoy testing the heated seats.

Jasper was really peaceful and after Banff quite laid back with less people which was nice. Seemed less touristy and easier to get away from others. So many reasons to return would love to get back across there soon.
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Unread 18 Aug 18, 08:33 PM  
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Stitch in time
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We have just booked to go to the Rockies too and I am finding your trip report so helpful. Your pictures are amazing and I'm loving your trip report, it all looks so lovely.
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