September 3, 2003--Peyto Lake, Athabasca Glacier, Jasper
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We left Banff in the morning and headed towards Jasper on the Icefield Parkway with a stop first at Peyto Lake (213-219). Exhibiting the same, beautiful turquoise color, this lake was viewed from the Bow Summit. From there we headed to the Athabasca Glacier, a truly memorable experience. Part of the Columbia Icefield, the glacier is something to behold as one approaches it, first by a regular bus (226) and then by specially-built Snocoaches (242). Only a little over twenty of these exist in the world and they are specially built for glacier climbing and descending. Photo 228 is from the inside of one of these coaches when the initial reaction is that the coach is getting too close to the edge of cliff; soon thereafter one is told that we are indeed going over the edge and descending the 32° grade. With the system of gears in the coaches, they are able to descend the grade without using their brakes.
The coaches climb onto the glacier and, once at a safe spot, everyone embarks from the coaches to look around and experience the walk on the glacier. The guides all have a tradition of suddenly appearing with a bottle of liquor and pouring everyone a glacier cocktail, in this case, 12 year old Scotch and 200 year-old glacier water (230-231--the bottled water is only coincidentally in the photos). Glacier walks can be dangerous for trekkers (244); photo 245 gives an indication of the crevasses that can be over a hundred feet deep and probably fatal if one falls in.
Later, we viewed falls on the Athabasca River (253-257) before a raft trip on a gentler stretch of the river later in the day (258-263). Finally, we arrived at our destination for the evening, the rustic Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge (264-266).
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