Wednesday September 12, 2018 – approx. 113 km today – approx. 11.483 km total
This night, I woke up a couple of times. I actually don’t know why, but with being awake for some time, I realized that it had indeed started to snow a bit. In the morning there was a slight layer of snow and ice on the trees and plants around my campsite. And it was freezing cold. Again, I enjoyed the hot shower for which I had to walk even further than on the Whistlers campground yesterday. I don’t know: Maybe, I simply didn’t get the system of drive-thru showers ;-).
After breakfast, I started driving down the Icefield Parkway. My plan was to split the drive down to Lake Lousie into about three parts. I would then reach Lake Lousie on Thursday evening, maybe spend Friday there and drive to Vancouver on Saturday. The only thing that might impede my plans was the fact that it was still snowing – even more heavily now.
My first stop was the parking lot of the Valley of the Five Lakes. My travel guide and also the staff in the Jasper visitors center declared the 4,5 km loop trail there as beautiful, so I wanted to give it a try – even though it was still snowing. I tried to get myself as warm as possible with the limited clothing I had packed for this trip. In fact, I was not really fully prepared for that kind of weather since I had not expected snowfall!
The trail led through the forest and climed uphill a bit. After a while, it reached the fifth of the Five Lakes. The scenery with the snowfall was beautiful, but once again, it was just a lake and nothing that spectacular. Probably, I simply had too many much more spectacular impressions on this roadtrip to value it sufficiently.
The trail passed the forth, third, and second lake one after another and then turned into the woods again for returning to the parking lot. In the meantime it at least had stopped snowing and I continued to drive along the Icefield Parkway.
My next stop was just about 20 min further down the road: The Athabasca Falls. From the parking lot, there was a short well-prepared walk that took me close to the falls which indeed were fascinating. I spend some time there taking pictures even though it had started to snow again. I even walked along the trail a bit into the canyon but eventually, I became too cold and returned to my car.
About another 20 min further down the Icefield Parkway, there was another waterfall where I also stopped. It was also impressive and I spent some time there again. However, it was the same story: Eventually, it simply was too cold to stay any longer.
After the two falls, my major destination for today was the Columbia Icefield. It is a huge glacier icefield located behind the mountains visible from the Icefield Parkway. Actually, only three of its glaciers are visible from the road: The Athabasca, the Dome and the Stutfield. Right at the toe of the Athabasca glacier, there is the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre – and that’s exactly where I went first. In the center there is an exhibition about the glacier melting and what it means for the Columbia Icefield and in addition a movie is shown. The latter in fact surprised me a bit: I had expected an educational movie explaining the phenomena of glaciers and the glacier melting. However, it was actually a really well done movie with just music and moving action. The characters were three children who were playing in the area of a glacier. One child found a nicely carved and colored stone and took it. When becoming older, that same child did excursions on the glacier ice and once that stone that he always carried with him fell off his pocket into a glacier crevasse. The movie was mixing the timelines with one and another and there was a third timeline where an old man hiked in the region of the glacier and admired it – that old man was of course the child grown up. Eventually the old man found the stone that he had picked up when being a child at the toe of the glacier. He took it and put it back in the same location where he had picked it up as a child. So the movie kind of showed a circular story and expressed the ever ongoing cycle of nature. I was wondering the entire movie when there would be some explanations, but I simply could not leave since the entire scenery shown was so beautiful. Only at the end one finally got the point of the entire movie. It was really well done.
After watching the movie, the weather had cleared up a bit, and I hurried to drive over to the toe of the Athabasca glacier. From the parking lot, I had to walk and climb a bit up and reached a plateau from where I could watch the toe of the glacier. It was maybe a couple of hundred meters away and really an impressive scenery. In addition on the trail, signs posted the location where the glacier toe had been in certain years and one could really feel the glacier melting while hiking up there. It was impressive.
It turned out that I had catched exactly the right moment for getting up there to the toe of the glacier. Just about half an hour later, clouds were again covering the icefield and I returned to my car.
Now, I was a bit unsure what to do: Should I stay here and wait if tomorrow the weather would be better, or should I continue towards Lake Lousie. I finally decided to stay and started driving to the nearby campground. But then, I wondered if I could not just stay on the parking lot of the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre. So I returned there and asked an employee of the restaurant since in the actual Discovery Centre nobody was present anymore. She explained me that I could stay on the parking lot, but had to pay 15,70 $ at a self-registering booth. However, the washing rooms in the Discovery Centre would be opened the entire night. So actually, the parking lot was even the better camping location than the campground which would most likely just have pit toilets.
I went over to the self-regsitering booth, did the registration, and returned to my car. Then, I grabbed my notebook and went into the Discovery Centre as it was of course much warmer there. In the meantime it had again started to snow – and this time really heavily.
When I finally returned to my car at around 9:30 pm, about 5 cm of snow covered everything outside – including my car. I really did not feel like doing some cooking action anymore and decided to just go sleeping without dinner.
(Unfortunately, I still cannot upload any pictures anymore… I don’t know what’s wrong, but will most likely fix that problem later.)