Over the last couple of Wednesdays I’ve shared some of my exploits on (and above) the Juneau Icefield in Alaska. And with the cold and snow still firmly entrenched here at home, I thought I’d continue the glacial Which Way theme.
In Juneau, I flew over glaciers. I landed on a glacier. And I even hiked on a glacier. What I didn’t do was drive on a glacier. But eight months later I got to do just that, during a visit to the Canadian Rockies in Alberta.
We stayed overnight at the Glacier View Inn, just after crossing into Jasper National Park on Highway 93, the Icefields Parkway. Being on the top floor of the fascinating Icefield Interpretive Centre, our hotel had us perfectly situated for an early Columbia Icefield Glacial Adventure the next morning.
From the Icefield Centre we were taken by a shuttle to the staging post for the Ice Explorers, which would drive us up onto the Athabasca Glacier. The Ice Explorers are a cross between a coach and an ATV. And these monsters have to be powerful to carry their 56 passengers onto the icefield.
From their staging post on the rugged moraines beside the glacier, they seemingly drop off the edge of the world, down onto the ice itself. From there they power their way roughly 1¼ miles up the Athabasca Glacier to a viewing spot where you can get out of the Ice Explorer.
Of course, this part of the tour was a bit tame for a hardened arctic-adventurer like myself, having hiked on the Juneau Icefield the previous year. But in all seriousness, it was fun to once again stand on solid ice. And the scenery was spellbinding.
At 125 square miles in area, the Columbia Icefield is the largest extent of ice in the Rocky Mountains. It lies across the border between Banff and Jasper National Parks, penned in by the surrounding mountains. The Athabasca is one of eight major glaciers that spill off the icefield and down between these imprisoning peaks.
After our allotted time on the glacier, we climbed aboard our Ice Explorer and rumbled back to the staging post, and from there on to the Icefield Centre. Following a fun hour or two exploring the Athabasca’s terminal moraines on foot, we continued our Journey towards Jasper. (What a great name that is, by the way, even if the spelling is a little strange!) But that’s a story for another day and another Which Way.
This post was inspired by this week’s Cee’s Which Way Challenge.
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