I had a very difficult time getting out of bed this morning. In fact, the last couple of days here have been like that, but today was especially difficult. The morning rain has an affect on how I feel, and today it made me feel really lethargic and unenthusiastic. We went for breakfast at Syrahs, which was delicious (scrambled eggs, peameal bacon, cute little biscuits with a house-made berry spread, toast, and the best hash browns), and returned home to decide what our game plan should be.
We had to be at the Icefield Discovery Centre by 3:15 pm. We estimated it could take 2 hours to get there, so we could do a short hike before; however, with morning rain in the forecast, I wasn’t in the mood. The game plan was to get in the car and start driving and decide on the way. Of course the rain starting coming down when we were in the car, so hiking was out of the question. We had been told by the Icefield Tours rep that the temperature on the glacier would be 10 degrees lower than current temps, so I did not want to show up wet. We devised a new plan – drive to lookout points. Mother Nature has been kind to us so far, providing pockets of blue skies amidst the rainy forecasts, and she didn’t disappoint today. On our way to the Discovery Centre, the weather improved significantly, and by the time we were boarding the ice buggies, the sun was out. Our Columbia Icefield Adventure was off to a terrific start, despite the loud families, and embarrassing Chinese tourists that could not follow simple safety rules.
We were taken out onto the Athabasca glacier on the huge ice buggies. Johnson, our Kiwi driver, was entertaining while providing us with interesting history and facts. The drive out took about 20 minutes, and one of the coolest part of the journey was going down the steepest commercial road in North America at 35% grade. This road is on a glacier, so it changes from year-to-year, and in this case, this section appears to get steeper.
It’s quite an experience to be able to set foot on a glacier, as glaciers worldwide seem to be receding at alarming rates due to global warming. This experience wasn’t quite as intense as the glacier walk in Iceland, but it was still special. Unfortunately, the tours do not allow much time on the glacier – 20 minutes at most before we have to re-board our ice buggy and head back. Hubs and I took our photos and took a sip of the flowing glacier water before boarding and being shipped to the Glacier Skywalk, which I thought was lame.
I can’t figure out why any money was spent on building this structure. It is a cliff-edge walkway that leads to a glass-floored observation platform 280 metres (918 ft) above the Sunwapta Valley. We spent a short time there before heading back to our car.
By this time it was 6 pm, so we agreed to head back to town, stopping at a couple of sites we skipped – Tangle Falls & we were going to stop at another glacier lookout point, but it started raining again so we kept going. Luckily it was full sun at Tangle Falls.
The weather changes quickly in the mountains, so within minutes you can go from dark clouds and rain to glorious sunshine. This happened a few times on our drive back into town, so we took advantage of any good light and scenery.
Dinner was at Downstream Lounge, where I had a Muscovy duck breast with candied orange peel and Saskatoon berry reduction. It was good. Hubs also enjoyed his bison steak, though he wanted the elk instead (but they were out).
After dinner, we drove up the road to Pyramid Lake. The start of this road was were we saw the Caribou on our first night. We were hoping to spot more. Unfortunately, we did not witness any, but we found some scenic spots for photos.