Jasper National Park protects 2.77 million acres of broad valleys, rugged mountains, forests, lakes and glaciers in the Canadian Rockies in Alberta. Jasper is the largest of Canada’s Rocky Mountain parks and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This photo shows the First Lake (and the largest) in the Valley of the Five Lakes.
The photos above show the Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Lake respectively in the Valley of the Five Lakes. Each lake has a different shade of turquoise or jade. We had lunch along the beautiful Fifth Lake, which contains a small island at the far end of the lake that serves as nesting ground for Canadian Loons, which we could see through our binoculars.
The Columbia Icefield is immense. At nearly 50,000 acres, it’s the largest accumulation of ice south of the Arctic Circle. It drops out of the Rocky Mountains in the Athabasca Glacier, the most accessible glacier in North America. If you look closely in the photo above, up on the glacier you can see a Brewster Ice Explorer, a bus with giant tires that can climb ice and snow. For $49 per person, you can ride the bus up the mountain for a 15-minute walk on the Athabasca Glacier.
As we always like to do, we let the dogs off the leash to run around on the snow. It only took a moment of teasing by Shadow before Darby took off chasing after him.
While global warming continues to be a political hot potato in the USA, it’s a foregone conclusion in Canada. Evidence of a warming Earth is everywhere in this land of ice and snow, from melting permafrost to rapidly receding glaciers. Canadians don’t seem to debate whether humans cause or contribute to climate change, as there’s little they can do to affect it on a global scale. Instead, Canadians treat global warming as fact and are already working to deal with its effects, the most dire of which are the loss of fresh water from glaciers that may disappear over the next few decades, to the reinforcement of buildings and roads that were constructed on now-melting permafrost. Park managers are also dealing with rapid changes in wildlife habitats and migration patterns. In the photo above, we are standing next to the marker that shows the edge of the Athabascan Glacier when we first met in 1992. The glacier has receded over a quarter mile in the 20 years we’ve been together and its retreat is accelerating.
The Endless Chain Ridge is a folded mountain ridge that spans for miles along the Icefields Parkway in Jasper National Park.
The sun peaked out of the clouds briefly to expose the beautiful mountains that rise above the town of Jasper, located in the center of Jasper National Park. We took this photo from Old Fort Point, a prominent bedrock hill that rises about 500 feet above the Athabasca River. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, it’s odd seeing cities in national parks.
As we neared the top of Old Fort Point, we spotted this Big Horn Sheep grazing on the hillside.
While hiking along Maligne Canyon, we spotted this perfect waterfall. We were mesmerized by its frothing symmetric ribbons of white water. It reminded us of those little zen waterfalls that people have on their desks at work.
We stopped to watch some kayakers brave the rapids in Maligne Canyon. It took the young man in the white kayak about 10 minutes to muster the courage to ride the rough rapids. Before he took off, when he noticed that Theresa was watching him bury his head in his hands, he exclaimed to her, “I’m not afraid!”
Maligne Canyon is the largest limestone gorge in the Canadian Rockies. Water gushes from springs along the way, creating a rushing torrent through the narrow canyon.