NOLA to Canadian Rockies 2018-Day 13

Steve Kinchen, Sr/ June 27, 2018/ BMW R1200RT, New Orleans to Canadian Rockies 2018, Touring/ 0 comments

Day 13

Departure Location: Calgary, BC

Time: 0630

Weather Conditions: 62F

Daily High Temperature: 72F

Destination: Jasper, BC

Daily Miles Logged: 328

Arrival Time: 1700

States Visited: Banff, Calgary British Columbia

Daily Highlights:

  • Icefields Parkway: One of Canada’s national treasures and most rewarding destinations. Stretching 232km (144mi.) through the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site, this world-class journey offers access to a vast wilderness of pristine mountain lakes, ancient glaciers and broad sweeping valleys. This special travel route winds its way through two national parks, boasting unique and irreplaceable landscape rich in history and natural beauty second to none.
  • Saskatchewan Crossing. This is a significant location where three rivers meet – the mighty North Saskatchewan, the Howse and the Mistaya. The North Saskatchewan River rises in the Canadian Rockies and empties into Lake Winnipeg over 1,600 kilometers (1,025 miles) east across the country. “The Crossing” is a starting point for tours on the Columbia Icefields.
  • The Weeping Wall
  • Sunwapta Falls The Athabasca Glacier feeds the Sunwapta Falls. This class 6 waterfall is located south of the Jasper town site and has a drop of approximately 18 meters (60 feet). The falls are particularly impressive in the late spring and early summer when snow pack run off is high
  • Athabasca Falls

As the first day of our trip with the Annette and Elizabeth joining in on the fun, we were prepared for our on-time departure for 06:30.  Today was about a slower pace and enjoying some of the beauty that surrounds us.

Typical Matt! Wandering off a little too far from the beaten path… good thing I was there with my camera to capture the moment!

The ride out of Calgary was rather uneventful, but the amount of construction that seems to be just about everywhere is at times a source of delay and frustration as you work your way through the congestion.

We made a few brief stops on our way to the Columbia Icefields Glacier Tour that we encounter a few days ago in the snowy and overcast weather.  Today, the views were much nicer, but for some reason, I did not capture any new phots.

We arrived in time for a quick lunch at the visitor center before our scheduled tour that was sufficient to quell our hunger, but once again, a reminder of just how far we really are from home and the fantastic food in New Orleans.

Our ride for the glacier tour. The tires were huge!

We took a short bus ride up the mountain to transfer to the large tour vehicles that would actually take us onto the glacier.  The slow ride up gives you a preview of what you are about to experience, but until your feet hit the ice, and you look around you, it is impossible to imagine the size and scope of where you are.

Steven Jr did not seem to be all that impressed at first… but maybe it he is just tired of me harassing him for photos

The tires on these glacier rovers are huge!

Perspective in these photos is very skewed.  As an example, from the point that we are standing, the difference in height to the crest of the glacier in the background is nearly another 1000 feet tall.  The width of the opening is also just under 5 kilometers.  You could never fathom that from the photos, but that is the case.

There are virtual mountains of rocks and powdered stones that line the sides of the glaciers path.

We leaned quite a few interesting facts from our tour guide along the ride up.  One interesting fact is that they have intentionally cut these small channels in the top layer of the glacier in order to direct the melting water to a specific spot along the ascent in order to wash the tires of the tour vehicles each time before they roll on to the glacier in an effort to protect the color and to not bring more rocks and debris on to the surface.

A view of some mountain sheep along the side of the roadway

Our next stop on the tour was at the Glacier Sky Bridge.  This project found its genesis in a discussion between a tour bus driver and the owner of the glacier tour company in the mid 1990’s.  With an elevation of over 900′ and extending over 30′ from the mountain side, this circular walk around the the Sky Bridge was a fascinating study in architecture, design, and humanity.  I am fortunate to not have an aversion to heights as some, but to see the level of trepidation that many of the visitors had as they approached the first step onto the glass walkway was humorous to me.

I admit that I am a bit of a prankster, so, in true form, I snuck up behind some of my friends and jumped up and down right beside them to see what their reaction would be.  Some laughed, some glared at me in disapproval, but the reaction of the strangers around us was even more entertaining.  One lady began laughing almost as hard as I was at the notion of what I was doing.  That was enough to encourage me to play on.

A view of the Sky Bridge from the approaching walkway.

A beautiful waterfall visible from the walkway

Steven Jr braving the glass walkway

Classic Matt shenanigans…

My feet hovering 900 feet above the rock cliff below


After our tour, we headed towards home base for the evening of Jasper.  We are staying at the Mount Robson Inn which is a local dig that seems slightly dated, but is clean and in good order.

Tomorrow, we explore Jasper, our northern-most destination for this adventure, a little before we head back towards Banff for the evening. Shorter milage with time off of the bikes will be the rue de jour as we start our journey in the direction of home.


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