Our day on the road to Jasper was a grand day (as they all are)! But today was grander than most. We left Banff and stopped at the world renowned Lake Louise which definitely lives up to its reputation. It was stunning as were the other lakes and scenery along the Icefields Highway. Crystal clear turquoise blue lakes, soaring mountain ranges, beautiful wildflowers and just general gobsmackingly gorgeous scenery all the way. Today's highlight (and there were many) was a walk on the Athabasca Glacier, one of the glaciers in the Columbian Icefield. We took a specially designed ice going vehicle of which there are only 23 in the world with 22 of them operating here. The only other one operates out of McMurdo Station in Antarctica.
This glacier walk was special and an experience we will unlikely repeat as the glacier is melting at such a rate that they predict it will disappear in 60 years. The company operating here expects to cease tourist operations in 10 years due to the glacier shrinkage. So much for climate change deniers!
After another couple of photo stops we continued onto Jasper to a very informative nature talk and a Canadian BBQ which was very gourmet. Did I mention the roaring log fire adding to the atmosphere? And a singalong to boot. Marvellous!
Jasper is a town of about 5000 people in one of the ranges in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Peak tourist season are the summer months of July and August and we were so glad we visited. This place is the equal to Banff for scenery but somewhat less commercialised. In the day and a bit we were here we took advantage of some of the dozens of kilometres of walking trails and just walked (good for Kim's GCC steps) and walked, and also did a 'float' down the Athabasca River (partly in the pouring rain which cleared to blue sky as quickly as it came in) and just enjoyed the scenery and wildlife. We saw flocks of graceful Canada geese, many quick darting red squirrels, and even an elk wandering down the main street in the evening while we were in a restaurant for dinner. Hope he crossed at the walk crossing! And even more specially, we saw fresh bear tracks (we know how to spot them now) in the sand by one of the beautiful and many crystal clear turquoise lakes in the area. By one of these we saw a sign warning of 'Quicksand' - now that's a sign you don't see everyday in Australia!
We launch from here on the Rocky Mountaineer train for two days so based on reports from friends who have already done it, we are expecting the scenery bar to again be raised. And very much looking forward to it!