Sunday, 30 June 2013

Canada Hols - Jasper to Golden

Although it is only just over 300km from Jasper to Golden, it took us most of Saturday to make the journey, due to all the wonderful sights on the way. The stunning mountains, scattered with snow just got better and better. There were waterfalls by the dozen: Athabasca Falls, on one of the major rivers, Sunwapta Falls on another major river, Tangle Falls just pelting down the mountain beside the highway, and Weeping Wall, a sheer cliff beside the highway with numerous falls just tumbling over. Excitingly, at Sunwapta we were thrilled to see a Red-tailed Chipmunk running under our car. Back on the road we saw our first bear beside the highway, but were far too slow to react with cameras, he high-tailed it back down into the forest, but shortly after there were 2 cyclists heading that way... we joked - “meals on wheels”! Ground squirrels darted across road at various places, and I spotted a male Bighorn Sheep (once again, far too slow to react). Finally we got our big break, with some cars coming the opposite way pulled over, and there was a black bear grazing on grass on the verge. We stopped at Columbia Icefield & walked to the toe of Athabasca Glacier. Here it was fascinating to see the deep grooves scored in rocks by the glacier. This glacier is retreating, and has lost 60% of its volume since the 1880's. There are 25 glaciers along this drive and we certainly saw quite a few, with Snowbird Glacier & Crowfoot Glacier just visible from the road, but we were able to walk in to view Bow Glacier & its bright blue Lake. Lakes were also plentiful on this route, and Waterfowl Lake was one of the prettiest. Part of the way there we passed through Yoho National Park and the town of Field, and at that stage a wild storm hit. The Nissan was being buffeted with the high winds, and lightning was flashing, but we didn't hear any thunder. The pelting rain was quite heavy, but we were able to keep driving through to Golden, where we stopped for the night at Rondo Motel (we are booked in here for 4 nights as it is quite central and good value).

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