Day 31, Banff to Jasper
So, as I said at the end of the previous blog there were quite a few sore heads as the bus set off towards Jasper. Our first stop was at Lake Louise, another emerald green glacial lake, which is said to be the most photographed lake in Canada. It was very spectacular with a large glacier on the mountains in the background (see the photos, words don't do it justice)Last night, shortly before bed, ALL of the men said they would take a dip to clear any sore heads. Who want to guess who lived up to their word?? Yep, I got in (in fact I got in TWICE as it took the men far too long to join me the first time! It was bloody freezing), Jo got in, David half got in(made it waist deep then swiftly got out again), Simon almost got in (kept his head dry though) and Chris had a paddle (knee deep). Please note that Daniel was a big wuss and did not enter the water! It was a magical place to have a very brief swim, but very touristy.
The drive to Jasper was incredible, with several large glaciers glistening on the mountain tops, inviting blue lakes, thirsty waterfalls and rushing rivers. Our next stop was at yet another lake, which I thought was prettier than Lake Louise, and much quieter. The water was also much cleaner and crystal clear and was so inviting but my bikini was still damp from the previous dip and no one else was keen so I had a small paddle and the boys skimmed stones.
Onwards we went until we arrived at Athabasca Glacier where a couple of the group took a bus up and onto the glacier at the mid way point. The rest of us (minus Simon who decided to sleep off his hangover) undertook a short hike to the beginning of the glacier, which was fascinating. I say this because we walked up and past markers where the glacier had previously been before it melted and it was quite staggering to see just how much it has decreased in size in the last century. The glacier was looking sorry for itself and was not the brilliant white you see on the mountain tops but a miserable grey. We saw where the melt water had carved grooves through the ice and joined a snowmelt river (which really was freezing, the coldest water I have ever felt) that rushed by at the edge. It was good to finally get some decent exercise aftter spending four solid days on the bus. Sightseeing is great but it does leave you drained due to the amount of driving, and most of the things you get off to look at are right on the doorstep with no real walking involved. I walked with Zoe who had never seen snow before, let alone a Glacier. I was trying to educate her and remember what I learned at school about Glaciers. I think I got the general gist right but I did tell her to do some research when she could to check I wasn't making it up (which we all know is more than likely!) She seem to appreciate it though and I enjoyed having some girl time (we didn't just talk about glaciers!)
We walked alongside the bottom of the glacier for a little while and came across an ice core moraine, which is where you could see brilliant blue ice in the heart of the glacier where it has been covered by moraine and sheilded from the warmth of the sun. I've never seen blue ice before so it was quite something to see.
Once the others got back from their coach trip we continued on stopping once more at the Maligne Canyon for a small hike (I think John must have read my mind earlier about lack of exercise!) This is the longest and deepest canyon in the rockies and was mesmerising to watch the water rush past and see how it had carved its way through the rocks. There were a couple of truly spectacular waterfalls with a huge volume of water gushing through as well. You wouldn't want to get trapped in there I can tell you! When we reached the bottom of the canyon where the river slowed down and levelled out a bit there was a bit of head dunking going on and Dan finally got wet! Shame it was at the beginning of the ascent though, all three lads were wet with sweat after the climb and wished they could dunk at the top rather than the bottom!
We shortly arrived at our lodgings for the night, a hostel with no running water or flushing toilets, but it did have a resident bear! This meant that Izzy, Zoe and I vowed to cross our legs in the middle of the night as the "pit" was at the end of the path, a little way from our room. But that's not all, the best news was that all 16 of us (a few people jumped off the bus this morning to take the slower, more indepth bus up to Jasper with a couple of overnight stops on the way) were in one room. Most of us thought this was going to be the end of a wonderful friendship and there would be some very tired campers in the morning. I'm happy to report we were all WRONG!! After a lovely group meal of pasta and melted marshmellow chocolate biscuit things on the bbq (yum yum! Thanks John) we were all in bed by 11pm as some of us were hung over or just tired, and due to the nearest bar being a 20 minute drive away there were no beery snorers so everyone slept reasonably well.
Come back for more fun and games on the Moose tour, it only gets better!!