Friday, March 8, 2013

Icefield Parkway: Bow Summit to Whistlers Campground

Upper Waterfowl Lake: (Left to Right) Mount Ebon is between the pines, Aries Peak, Stairway Peak, Midway Peak,  Mount Synge is in the far right.
"Along the way there is something for every sense to delight in.  Form, mass, line, color, rhythm - all the things that we look for in art - are here in superb variety.  Canvasses painted by Nature on a scale as vast as that used by the Seventh Angel of the Apocalypse.  Every mountain form - pyramid, wedge, round tower, castle, cathedral, slender obelisk and minaret - the same themes repeated with endless variations.  And for contrast, the slim, upstanding boles of the jackpines with their myriad spear-pointed tips; the bright trees of a waterfall gleaming against a dark wall of rock; the plane of a blue lake in an arc of cirque or green forest; long, sweeping diagonals of talus slopes, the rhythmical curve of glacier, and high up, that "purest, loveliest line in all Nature, the curve of a snow cornice about the shoulder of a peak"."

Mount Chephren seen from Waterfowl Lake.
The passage is from The Banff-Jasper Highway by M.B. Williams.  She was hired in the early 20th century to promote Canadian parks and wrote several books on the Rocky Mountain parks.  Her description of this route is more eloquent than I am able to describe what I was feeling and viewing during the time I was there.  I strongly recommend reading her park guilds before visiting these parks.

Alpine Lousewort
I pulled out of Bow Summit and descended into the Mistaya River Valley.  My first stop was at Waterfowl Lake where I did a short hike down to the lake.  I believe these pictures were taken on Upper Waterfowl Lake.  I found this interesting flower along the path.

Mistaya Canyon and its pot holes ground by smooth with stones and water.
There are several waterfalls along this section of Icefields Parkway and Mistaya Canyon was my next stop.  The canyon was carved out by the Mistaya River.  The river starts at Peyto Lake and is a tributary to the North Saskatchewan River a few miles north of here. I had a nice hike around the falls but if you have time you can hike to Sarbach Lookout or to Howse River.
Mistaya Falls with Mount Sarbach in the background.
A little farther down David Thompson Hwy (#11) intersect with the Icefields Parkway.  There is an outlook where you can view the Mistaya and Howse River Valley.  I stopped before the bridge that crosses the North Saskatchewan River to take some pictures of the river valley before moving on.

North Saskatchewan River at the Crossing: Resolute Mountain first full mountain on left and
Mount Hensley right of the pine in the center of the picture.
West side of Saskatchewan Crossing: Mount Outram right of the pines and
Mount Forbes (behind and to the right of Outram).
Finally, there were animals along the road side.  They were Big Horn Sheep and they come here to lick the mineral off the rocks.  When stopping to take animal pictures be sure to follow the park's rules, they are there to keep you and the animals safe.

Big Horn Sheep
After I pass the Thompson Hwy intersection I entered into Saskatchewan Valley.  While driving through this valley you can sometime see the North Saskatchewan River.  I stopped at an outlook where the river is in the foreground and Mount Amery and Saskatchewan are in to background.

Mount Saskatchewan is the snow covered peak.  Cleopatra's Needle or Lighthouse Tower is a small rock
sticking straight up right of  Mount Saskatchewan.
Looking back to Saskatchewan Crossing from Mount
Amery and Saskatchewan Outlook
Mount Amery
Soon after leaving the Mount Amery and Saskatchewan outlook the road starts climbing toward Sunwapta Pass.  At the beginning of Big Bend (a large switchback in the road) there is a pull off where you can look back at the river and Mount Cirrus.  Near the pullout there is a place where you can take pictures of Bridal Veil Falls.  I made one last stop at Parker Ridge trail to take more pictures of the mountains before crossing the pass.

North Saskatchewan River and Cirrus Mountain
from Big Bend south outlook.
Bridal Veil Falls

Parker Ridge Parking Lot: Mount Athabasca right of center.  The small peak on the left is Little Athabasca. 
Hilda Glacier below the peaks.
More mountains from Parker Ridge Parking Lot.
After crossing Sunwapta Pass I entered Jasper National Park and came upon the Icefield Centre.  The park has a nice new visitor center with a large parking lot allowing everyone to stop, look or explore the Columbia Icefield.  There are many way to explore the ice field.  There are bus tours to the glacier, guided walking tours, or go by yourself on the trail to the "Toe of the of Athabasca Glacier".  Wilson Pass is the second trail to hike it can be found on the Icefield Centre side of the road.  I only had time to walk around the center and parking lot taking pictures of the ice field because it was getting late and I was starting to worry about Whistlers campground filling up before I arrived there. 
Ripple Lake at the bottom.  Mount Athabasca is in the center.  Mount Andromeda is on the right.
Mount Athabasca is left front edge.  Mount Andromeda is far left.  Athabasca Glacier in the center. 
Snow Dome is along right edge.  Lake Sunwapta is on the bottom right.
Snow Dome and Snow Dome Glacier
 The Icefields Parkway now follows the Sunwapta River until it flows into Athabasca River just north of Sunwapta Falls.  I made a short stop at Sunwapta Canyon and Mount Kitchener Outlook.  I got a wonderful shot of Mount Athabasca through the canyon.  A little farther north on the edge of the road is Tangle Falls.
Sunwapta Canyon with  Mount Athabasca
Mount Kitchener
Tangle Falls

 Before reaching Sunwapta Falls, I pulled over to view Mushroom and Diadem Peaks and the Endless Chain Ridge.  The falls allowed me to get out of the car and stretch my legs for a little while. 

Mushroom Peak the first peak left of center.  It looks like a mushroom cap.  Diadem Peak is right of center.
The Endless Chain Ridge is the line of mountains on the right.
Sunwapta Falls are on the west side of the highway follow a side road into the parking lot and the falls are only a short distance away.  The falls cut a deep canyon into the rocks.  There is the Lower Sunwapta Falls Trail if you have more time to explore the area. 

Sunwapta Falls upstream.  If anyone knows what
mountain that is please let me know.
Sunwapta Falls downstream

Sunwapta Canyon downstream from falls.
Before I arrived at Athabasca Falls there is a goat lick along the roadside.  Everyone has to stop and take pictures but if you get a chance to see these beautiful animals, please keep the required distance and move slowly so the animals do not get stressed.  A group of  young guys were so excited about seeing the mountain goats they were running and jumping from behind the goat that cause them to form a semicircle around the kid goat in case they were attacked.  I yelled at everyone to stop moving or to move slowly away from them until they felt less threaten.  Once they relaxed I got some great pictures.
Mother Mountain Goat and her kid.

Mountain Goat standing guard.

Athabasca Falls was the last stop for the day before reaching Whistlers Campground.  There were many different levels to view the fall and is a must stop on the Icefield Parkway.  There is one view that Mount Kerkeslin makes beautiful backdrop of the falls.
Athabasca Falls with Mount Kekeslin behind it.
Athabasca Fall from a different angle
Athabasca Canyon downstream from the falls.
Going down the stair for a better view of the falls lower section.
Athabasca Canyon from its floor.

Downstream from Athabasca Falls
Just before Mount Kerkeslin Campground I saw a mother bear with two cubs on the ridge above the road.  I could only get a picture of the mother since the cubs were hiding in the tree line.  I believe the bear is a black bear.  Black bears out west come in brown and black colors.  This bear does not have a hump at the shoulders and the claws look short compared to the grizzly bear.  Hint: Keep your telephoto lens on the camera so you are ready for that wildlife photo.

Mama Black Bear and cubs were following behind her along the tree line.  They were too far to get a picture of the family.
My home for the night.
The day ended at Whistler Campground by the time I got there were only tent sites left that was perfect for me so I called it a day.  The next day, July 7, I would be traveling west along the Yellowhead Highway (Hwy 16).

No comments:

Post a Comment