Monday, November 7, 2011

October 3, 2011 Takakkaw Falls & The Icefields Parkway

This morning was below freezing and I noticed right away the snow was visible much further down the mountain top. After breakfast in Field, we headed out of town.
 We didn't even make it to the highway. While Chrissy tried to take pictures of the elk in the rain...
...I took one last shot of Field as the mountains were obscured by the low clouds.
We came across this lone elk in a lake along the highway.
 The drive up the Yoho Valley Road in heavy fog was enough excitement for the entire day for this flatlander. I've never driven on a road that actually had switchbacks on it.
 The original plan was to see the Takakkaw Falls then hike the Iceline Trail. But the fog has obliterated any view more than 25 feet from us. So as I looked over the many hikes available...
...Chrissy headed toward the falls that we could hear but could not see.
This sign pointed out the mountains that we couldn't see either.
 Luckily the closer we got, the falls came into view.

These falls were very impressive. The amazing amount of water comes from a melting glacier further up the mountain.
 Takakkaw is the Cree word for magnificent and at 800 feet that description is appropriate.
Standing here as the water calmly passes by, it seems strange that the same water is causing a thunderous roar is just a few feet away.
Another incredible view. It's hard to get where you are going when the views constantly change but always amaze. We left Yoho NP and entered Banff NP when we turned onto the Icefields Parkway.

The Crowfoot Glacier. It originally had a third claw, hence the name. But it no longer exists and according to some people climate change had nothing to do with it melting. The south end of Bow Lake is seen in the foreground.
We hiked the short trail up to Peyto Lake. As you can see it was well worth it. And before you ask, that is exactly how it looks on a cloudy day without a blue sky. I did not retouch the color of the water. This is what they mean when they say "a picture is worth a thousand words."
Just in case you didn't believe me.
 Another short hike to Waterfowl Lake...
 ...where we relaxed...
...and took in the scenery.
 Our next stop was Mistaya Canyon.
 You can hike up and down the canyon in the forest or on the rocks...
 ...the views changed throughout the canyon...
 ...once again water has carved this canyon over thousands of years...

 ...a rainbow in the mist as the sun broke through the clouds.. some spots the canyon was too deep to see the water running through it. Another beautiful place to spend an hour or two.
Back on the road and this scenic view.
We leave Banff and enter Jasper NP where we see the Athabasca Glacier from the Icefield Center parking lot.
Our last stop of the day was the most impressive. Athabasca Falls. Once again it was raining but we stayed here so long that the sun almost came out before setting.

There are lookout points along the canyon which goes a good distance before opening up into a river bed. As you might be able to tell by now, I could spend all day at these amazing places.

 The powerful force of nature is so evident here. Whether it is the water carving through the rock or a tree growing on a rock cliff.

 This is where the river flows into the canyon.
A side canyon that no longer has water flowing through it.
 We hiked down to where the river flows out of the canyon.
 As we hiked along the river we came across these examples of rock art...
 or cairns as hikers call them..
...and yes we laughed hysterically at this one. Who says nature lovers don't have a sense of humor?

 A couple of new views on the way back up the canyon...
...another wonderful day. How could it not be, we visited three national parks today.

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