Sunday, June 3, 2012

Friday, June 1: Up early and packed, then went shopping for an ammonite ring for my anniversary gift (from a fossil, similar to mother of pearl). Ron went crazy in the Rocks and Gems Store! Picked up a few groceries, then on the road to Miette Hot Springs via Jasper Alberta. Took a side trip to a beautiful glacial lake with a huge, multi-storied hotel perched on the shore, Lake Louise. The road up there was very steep (not recommended for big rigs or trailers!) and there was snow in the woods and in big patches on the parking lot. I saw pussywillows just coming out! A short, chilly walk and then we see the lake, still ice- and snow-covered, surrounded by mountains on three sides. The outlet to lake was blocked by glacial moraine from the Victoria Glacier. It’s named after Queen Victoria and the lake, after her daughter Louise. The lake is still fed by meltwater from the glacier. After leaving Lake Louise we turned off on the Icefield Highway for Jasper. We travel right up against the mountains with lots of snow on them. Some are actually purple, like in the song, “…for purple mountains majesty…!” The lakes are open though and they are a surreal glacial blue/green! We cross over the North Saskatchewan River, wide and full of rocky bars from torrents of glacial meltwater from the surrounding mountains in the spring. We stop for coffee at the Alberta Ice Center. They offer tours on to the Columbia Icefield, made up of several glacial lobes. We are in front of the Athabascan lobe; the glacial meltwaters from this system drain into three huge watersheds—the Pacific Ocean, the Arctic Ocean and Hudson Bay. There is a great glacial museum there and we find out that when we travel on the Icefield Highway we see more glaciers than any road in North America! We see caribous crossing signs…but no caribou!, a glacial meltwater river that is white as milk, and a huge swath of boulders as big as children extends way up the mountain like someone has been blasting! An amazing trip. We turn at Jasper and it’s a long, winding road into Miette Hot Springs, but it’s worth it! The cabins are clean and super-quaint, and after supper we walk back to the site of the original hot springs spa. It was open 1937-1984 till the crowds outgrew the site, and the new building and four pools were built. We also saw the three springs where the water is drawn for the pools, and some untapped seepage areas. Great spot surrounded by mountain peaks.

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