Have you had any interesting encounters with animals in the wild?
Have y’all been enjoying seeing photos from our trip to the Canadian Rocky Mountains? For those who have missed past post, here are all the links:
And now for my next post, our tour of the Athabasca Glacier. This was certainly one of the highlights of our trip.
After spending the day driving along the Icefields Parkway, we stopped at the Glacier View Inn for the night. We dropped our bags off in our room; grabbed our winter jackets,
hats, and gloves; and embarked on our glacier tour. A coach bus took us
partway up the mountain to a transfer station, where we boarded a giant
Ice Explorer, which took us up onto the Athabasca glacier.
The Ice Explorer is a very unique vehicle that is able to climb up extremely steep slopes while gripping the ice. Aside from the one used by the United
States Military up in Alaska, they are all currently being used on the
the hotel, the glacier looks very small, but once you’re up there, you realize just how massive it really is. As deep as the Eiffel Tower is tall, the Athabasca Glacier is approximately 6 km (3.7 miles) long and is receding at a rate of about 5 meters per year.
On the way up, we passed pine trees that are 300-700 years old. The growing season is only 60-90 days, so despite their age, the trees are quite skinny. They aren’t
very tall, either.
When the Ice Explorer completed its climb up the glacier, we were able to hope out and walk around. It was crazy to think just how thick the ice was below us.
Although the park officials were unable to legally prevent visitors from walking outside of the designated area, we were not about to wander off after hearing about the danger of falling into a crevasse (a deep, narrow opening in the ice).
Although it was cold, we took our gloves off and took the opportunity to try some fresh glacier water.
After the glacier excursion, we spent a few minutes on the Glacier Skywalk, a transparent platform jutting out from the edge of a mountain. It was a bit disappointing, as it didn’t actually look out over the glacier but over a valley a few miles away from the glacier. If you’re afraid of heights, you may not enjoy the skywalk, as it hangs 30 meters (98 feet) in mid air.
Check out this video that we made on top of the the glacier:
A few days, I shared photos and details from our visit to Lake Louise on our fourth day in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Although it was late in the day when we finished our 6.5-hour hike, we were determined to visit Moraine Lake before leaving the area.
It was about 6:00pm by the time we started the 30-minute drive up the narrow, windy road to Moraine Lake. There was no cell service and no turnarounds. When we were about one mile away from the lake, traffic came to a stand still.
We had spent our first few days in areas where there were not many tourists, so this was a shock to us. But Moraine Lake is arguably the most iconic spot in the Rocky Mountains (both in the U.S. and Canada and is often used as the “postcard picture” of the Rockies. So considering we were in Banff over what was expected to be one of the busiest weekends in years, it actually wasn’t all that surprising.
We sat in traffic for another 30 minutes before we were able to secure a spot in the tiny parking lot. There are
trails to hike at Moraine, but we elected to just enjoy the
breathtaking view from on top of the giant rock pile next to the parking
lot. It was one of Mr. Handsome’s favorite views, and after we returned
home he painted a beautiful picture of it.
That evening, we stayed at a beautiful cabin at Storm Mountain Lodge.
in the Canadian Rockies: Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. We arrived fairly early in the morning, but it still wasn’t early enough. Both parking lots were already full, so we ended up parking about a mile away from Lake Louise and walking.The Lake Louise shore was teeming with tourists, but it was totally worth the walk. It truly is a spectacular place! There were quite a few people out canoeing on the far end of the lake. If you look closely, you can see the Upper and Lower Victoria Glaciers behind the lake.
One of the unique things about Lake Louise, aside from the beautiful blue color of the water, is that it offers two hikes to historic teahouses. We were hoping to do the 8.4-mile Plain of Six Glaciers
Teahouse Hike (teahouse built in 1927), but we heard from other tourists that the snow up on top of the glacier was quite deep, so we chose the Lake Agnes Teahouse Hike (a newer teahouse built to replace one built in 1905).
The first half hour of the hike was a steep incline, and the next half hour was steep switchbacks. We arrived at a medium-sized lake that can’t even be seen from the start of the trail. We thought that was pretty incredible, but we were in for an even better surprise!
About 20 minutes further, and we made it up to the teahouse. The teahouse itself is a small, wooden structure, but it sits on a lake about 10 times as large as the first!
The views were splendid!
Both Lake Louise teahouses sit on top of mountains, so they are inaccessible by road and rely on horses and helicopters to bring supplies.
The teahouse was quite busy with hikers enjoying refreshments before going back down the mountain. We took a short break and then decided to
leave the crowds behind and continue on the Big Beehive trail. The trail took us all the way around the lake and through a large patch of snow. Here is the view from the other side of the lake:
From there, we began the steepest, most harrowing trek of our entire trip, as we snaked up a rocky slope. Looking down was quite frightening! I had a few freak-out moments when I almost lost my balance.
It was rough, but once again, the view was totally worth it. There was hardly anyone up at the top, and we could see for miles.
We were directly above Lake Louise and the chateau. The people canoeing on the lake looked like ants.
I nearly had a heart attack as Mr. Handsome sat near the edge to take a picture.
But then I saw another man go even further (while leaning out over the drop-off) and was grateful that my husband wasn’t crazy enough to follow suit. The man’s wife was watching him do this, and she just shook her head and said, “Sometimes I wonder how he’s still alive.”
We sat up there for about 30 minutes, enjoying the views. The air was fresh, and the stillness brought a peacefulness unlike any I had ever experienced in nature.
By the time we made it back to our car, we had hiked 8.6 miles/13.8km in 6.5 hours and gained an elevation of 1,770 feet/540 meters.
We were exhausted, but I still had to show Mr. Handsome beautiful Moraine Lake before we left the area. I’ll share those photos in another post.