Jasper National Park
After taking a side trip to the west to see Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and Yoho, we rejoined the Icefields Parkway and continued north through Banff to Jasper National Park where we stopped to camp next to the Icefields Center. Located at the point where the Athabasca Glacier spills down the mountains from the massive Columbia Icefield, our camp provided both spectacular views of the glacier and a central location from which to explore Jasper to the north and the upper section of Banff just to the south.
In Jasper, we started with a couple lake hikes. Unfortunately for photo purposes we hiked these two trails on a mostly overcast day which dulled the water colors and darkened the whole batch of pictures. We began at the Mary Schaeffer Loop trailhead along the shore of Maligne Lake, but we stuck to the narrowing footpath along the shore instead of circling back in order to see more of the water. Our next hike was a loop at the Valley of the Five Lakes which we extended for a total of about 7km.
Valley of the Five Lakes:
After the 2 lake hikes we continued south on our way back to our campsite, stopping to admire and walk around at both Athabasca Falls and Sunwapta Falls along the Athabasca River as well as a view overlooks along the Icefields Parkway.
Finally, our explorations in Jasper concluded with a short walk on the Athabasca Glacier Forefield Trail into the glacial cirque. The trail brought us as close as safely possible to the toe of the receding glacier that cascades from the Columbia Icefields above and highlighted the enormous amount of space vacated by the frozen ice in recent years: telling was the sign that pointed out that the glacier had extended an additional kilometer down the valley as recently as 1982. In fact, this glacier has lost 60% of its total volume in the past century and is a poignant reminder of the incredible affects of global warming. For as great as the distance the tongue has receded towards the mountains however, the towering depth of the lateral moraines – deposits marking the height of the packed snow – are much more indicative of exactly how much fresh water has been lost.