It was a restless night! A two man tent with three occupants! Two Thermarests in a min-rectangular space meant that the person in the middle got to lie on an uneven triangle of mat / cold hard ground and the people on the outside got to lie on two thirds mat and one third cold trough at the edge of the tent! For a start, we dressed, expecting arctic temperatures and imminent death from hypothermia. In fact the tent was so warm with three bodies and a candle inside it, that we spent a good deal of the night attempting to strip off layers whilst remaining inside our sleeping bags! We woke early in order to be able to start today's hike in good time. There was another 26km ahead of us, followed by a five hour drive to Calgary for our flight home tomorrow!
The breakfast chef served hot tea and a pan of hot granola with two spoons in bed. He also delivered an anniversary card - this being our 32nd wedding anniversary!!
We set off walking at 9am - a brutal climb up out of the camp site followed by a further 'aggressive' climb up to The Notch at over 1500 metres and stupendous 360 views over the Rockies. From there we left our packs and hiked up a further 150m scree slope to reach another summit with even better panoramic views. It was st this point that Chris surprised us with a mini bottle of bubbly to celebrate our anniversary! What a superstar!
We all joined in the toast and agree it an excellent way to refresh weary hikers.
The weather was absolutely perfect with clear blue skies all around us but a crisp nippy air. Even after all the climbing, we still needed jackets, hats and gloves. And sun glasses and sunscreen.
From there were scrambled down and continued along the heart of the Skyline trail. This was 4 km of ridge line walking with 360 degree views the whole time.
We could see snow capped mountains
in all directions including Mount Robson and Edith Cavell. Breathtaking. Even the rocks in the foreground were spectacular, particularly the aptly named Amber Mountain, where a golden eagle soared past us.
We descended the zig-zag trail to Lake Tekarra and stopped for a picnic lunch. The next stage was a long down hill section through increasingly forested ground, so we tramped along singing songs to deter the bears.
The next section was the famous fire road a 8km downhill stomp - said to take 4 hrs. We bid led it in a hour and a half despite aching feet and were back at the vs before we knew it after fitting a black and white ground dwelling bird but no elk or moose, and no Grizzlies!
Back at base we drove to Maligne Canyon and hobbled our way to the second bridge to see the incredible natural phenomenon that carved the river bed 50 metres below us.
We drove through Jasper having seen tutting elk at the side of the road, and then drove on south along the Icefields Parkway towards the Athabasca glacier. The evening sun highlighted the peaks on either side of us as we drove, initiating many cries of 'Oh wow!' From the back of the van, and triggering many last minute swerves into parking spots to view and photograph the scenery.
After a brief spell of internet driven flight booking we proceeded south to arrive st the Athabasca glacier and Colombia Icefield centre at dusk. There was just enough light to view the glacier and surrounding mountains. Amazingly the restaurant above the information centre was still open and do we were able to order a supper of Spring rolls and bison burger (our anniversary dinner!) there, instead of reheating tinned chilli con carne on the back of the van!
After eating, we retired to our van, parked for the night in the car park over looking the glacier.
Once again, we prepared for winter conditions as the icy wind buffeted the side of the van closest to the glacier, but were pleasantly surprised at how cosy the van was as we settled down for another night - our last together....