Monday, 7 October 2013

Canada Part 2......

Leaving Banff we did a quick stop to take photographs of it's famous Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel "The Castle". (Click on photos to bigify)

Built in 1888, the original building, designed by Bruce Price, was quite different from the present Banff Springs structure. Variously termed a "Tudor hall" or a "Swiss chalet", the Price building was clad in shingles with stone accents, and featured a profusion of dormers, turrets, and roof lines. The 1888 structure cost $250,000 and a mistake made by the builder changed the intended orientation of the building, turning its back on the mountain vista, this was rectified and the hotel faces the mountains. This building included more than 100 bedrooms, centered on a five-story, octagonal rotunda. An addition in 1902 expanded and renovated the building, adding more than 200 rooms. 

Driving through Banff National Park we took our last shots of the magnificent scenery.

We noticed fences all along the highway, obviously to stop wildlife crossing, and were interested to learn the explanation of these bridges at regular intervals over the highway.
These are wildlife crossings, specifically built to enable the wild life to cross the highway, dipped in the centre of the bridge and planted with trees and other foliage this prevents the animals crossing being able to see the the traffic underneath.  Using a variety of techniques to monitor the crossings over the last 25 years, scientists report that 10 species of large mammals (including deer, elk, black bear, grizzly bear, mountain lion, wolf, moose, and coyote) have used the 24 crossings in Banff a total of 84,000 times as of January 2007. The research also identified a "learning curve" such that animals need time to acclimate to the structures before they feel comfortable using them. For example, grizzly bear crossings increased from seven in 1996 to more than 100 in 2006. A similar set of observations was made for wolves, with crossings increasing from two to approximately 140 over the same 10-year period. Positive results reported that the use of wildlife crossings and fencing reduced traffic-induced mortality of large ungulates on the TCH by more than 80 percent.

We made our way to the Icefields Parkway stopping at the Crowfoot Glacier to take photos.

Crowfoot Glacier is east of the Continental divide, and runoff from the glacier supplies water to the Bow River. The glacier has retreated since the end of the little ice age and now has lost one entire lobe; it therefore no longer resembles the glacier which early explorers named.

We continued our journey following the Bow River to Bow Lake

where we had a coffee at Num-Ti-Jah Lodge build by Jimmy Simpson.  (Photo from Google)

When Jimmy Simpson camped at Bow Lake in 1898, he vowed that one day he would "build a shack here". Twenty-five years later he began building the first log cabin on the site and had a permanent base for his outfitting tours. He called his operation Num-Ti-Jah, a Stoney Plain word for pine marten, a small animal similar to a sable.  In 1937, the Banff-Jasper highway was completed as far as Bow Lake. Jimmy, his wife Billie and their children Margaret, Mary and Jimmy jr. began expanding on the original dream of a "shack". With the earnings from Margaret and Mary's professional ice-skating tours, the building of Num-Ti-Jah Lodge began. In 1940, the Lodge had six guest rooms. By 1950, a beautiful log and stone hotel with 16 rooms stood on the shores of Bow Lake.

Our journey continued to the highlight of the day the Columbia Icefield, one of the biggest accumulations of ice and snow south of the Arctic Circle, where we were to take an Ice Explorer ride onto the surface of the Athabasca Glacier.

We had to take a coach from the Icefield Interpretive Centre, which is across the highway from the glacier, to the glacier edge, this is the view of the glacier from the road on the journey up to the top.

 This is where we transferred to the Ice Explorer for the journey down onto the glacier.
You can experience our journey down onto the glacier in the Ice Explorer on this short video, where we passed another vehicle on the way up - the road was VERY steep.

The glacier is approximately 6 km (3.7 mi) long, covers an area of 6 km2 (2.3 sq mi), and is measured to be between 90–300 metres (300–980 ft) thick.  The glacier moves down from the icefield at a rate of several centimetres per day. Due to its close proximity to the Icefields Parkway, between the Alberta towns of Banff and Jasper, and rather easy accessibility, it is the most visited glacier in North America. The leading edge of the glacier is within easy walking distance; however, travel onto the glacier is not recommended unless properly equipped. Hidden crevasses have led to the deaths of unprepared tourists.

Once down on the slope one can see the ice underneath the dirt and rubble on top (the moraine).
 Then onto the actual glacier.

In this next video you can see a small stream which is melting ice from the glacier, not surface ice but from ice that is several thousand years old.   It wasn't safe to walk beyond the stream, and in the background you can see the actual Columbia Icefield on the horizon.

This next photo shows the view from the glacier to where we set off in the Ice Explorer.
In the next picture you can see (by the arrows) where we started off in the Ice Explorer to where we actually stood on the Glacier.

The next two photos show our journey back to the coach from the ice field, it shows the rough, precarious terrain the Ice Explorers traverse.

This is one of the vehicles that were used prior to the Ice Explorers,
much smaller and apparently not as stable.  

The glacier currently recedes at a rate of 2–3 metres (6.6–9.8 ft) per year and has receded more than 1.5 km (0.93 mi) in the past 125 years and lost over half of its volume.  Our guide told us that in 40 years it will not be possible for people to walk on the glacier because it will have receded back to where it won't be safe.   I'm so glad we were able to experience this before it's too late.

Join me next time for Jasper and Spirit Island.


Ron said...

WOW...what AMAZING shots! The ones of the breathtaking scenery are astounding! OMG...Canada is GORGEOUS!

Very interesting to read about the bridges and why they were built that way. Thanks for sharing that.

And I just about fell over looking at the photos of you and MWM standing in the icy snow because I know how much you hate to be cold. It amazes me that Canada got snow already because we're having summer-like weather right now - hot and very humid.

Enjoyed BOTH the video clips!

Once again, m'dear, fabulous travel post! Thoroughly enjoyed!

Looking forward to Part 3.


MorningAJ said...

The photos are stunning. Looks like you had a wonderful time.

Daryl said...

stunning shots and it looks so cold ... brrrrr

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

gosh i am cold looking at the ice! lol

smiles, bee

Beach Bum said...

Simply majestic! Both the landscape and your pictures.

Valerie said...

Great to see these pictures. Isn't it amazing how the clouds seem to meet the glaciers? Did you find it dreadfully windy? Roll on Part Three.

Akelamalu said...

Yes Canada is Gorgeous Ron. It didn't snow m'deario that Glacier is millions of years old. x

We did have a wonderful time AJ, glad you enjoyed the photos.

It was REALLY cold on the glacier Daryl!

We were very cold standing on it Bee LOL

The landscape was awe inspiring Beach, glad you enjoyed the pics. x

The sky was as majestic as the scenery Valerie. It wasn't particularly windy but it was incredibly cold on the glacier.

Flowerpot said...

What an incredible time you had! xx

Akelamalu said...

We did indeed Flowerpot :)

sandi mcbride said...

I haven't been to Canada in years but other than the spectacular sights I remember how incredibly clean the nation was...I know you have had a grand time of it!

Akelamalu said...

Oh yes the cleanliness struck me too Sandi!

theothersideofparis said...

Wow, looks fantastic. You do get about! Weather in Paris has turned quite chilly and it's raining. Yuk!

Akelamalu said...

It was and we try . The weather her is like Paris. x

Secret Agent Woman said...

Absolutely gorgeous. And that bridge is very cool - like a cross between a bridge and a tunnel.

Travis Cody said...

I'm fascinated by those wildlife crossings and pleased to see that they actually do make a difference.

The glaciers are stunning.

Akelamalu said...

Yes that's it a cross between a bridge and a tunnel SAW!

I was fascinated by them too Trav and happy to know they actually made a difference. The Glaciers are mindboggling!