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Day 8 - The Athabasca Glacier [Jun. 28th, 2008|07:40 pm]
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My first night in the wilderness hostel went fine. When it started to get dark the hostel 'warden' lit a bonfire in the central area bwrtween the huts, and we all crowded round. We were full that night, with 24 people from a variety of groups. It felt lovely to be out in the middle of nowhere with the fire for us to huddle round to protect us against the dark.

Thuis morning I set off almost as soon as getting up, as I had various things to do. First, to a garage for gas, then to get a sandwich, then onto the town hostel for a shower (this order being far more convenicent driving-wise).

And then back south for about an hour down the Icefields Parkway tp my destination for the day - The Athabasca Glacier, which I was going for an ice walk on.

The tourists can see it from snow-coaches that travel over the ice, and they're allowed to hop out for a few minutes on a nice tame part of glacier.

I, however, was going on a guided walk. We met in a car park very near the glacier and were given our gear (and got to sign waivers as usual) - walking boots, jackets, over-trousers (for the wind) and gloves. DEspite it being a very hot sunny day, it's always colder on the glacier due to the wind. (In facy it was 30C here today, with 32 predicyed tomorrow.)

We were a group of about 25 with one guide - who has been walking on glaciers for 30 years. We set off at 11, up a short clibing path to the foot of the glacier. The very lowest section of the glacier was covered in snow, which our guide kept testing with a pole to make sure there was solid ice below.

Only a few mins on snow, and then we were up onto the ice. We didn't jhave crampons, just normal walking boots, but because it was snuny the ice was crunchy and therefore walking was fine (they use crampons if it's wet). And so we climbed up the glacier pasuing to look at features such as large holes with rushing water inside (where a creek meets the glacier and pokes through). The whole area was crossed with little streams of pale blue melt-water, which looked lovely against the stark white of the ice.

We had a number of stops on teh way up for commentary, and to catch our breath. We got most of the way up the sloping section, and could see the steps the ice falls down above very clearly.

Harldy any stops on the way down, making a 3.5 hour trip, with abnout 3 hours on the ice. MOre like Fox Glacier than Franz Josef, but possibly even flatter, meaning you could see more views, although it didn't have teh excitement of steps in the ice etc. A fun walk.

Had my lunch there and then headed back to Jasper. Not much afternoon left by now, but time to check out Maligne Canyon, just across the road from teh hostel. A short walk around tehre - and indeed it is a very deep canyon with water rushing through it down below.

A quick pop into the hostel to move down to a lower bunk bed before people arrived (I'd been on an upper one last night, but all those who were in my room were only tehre for that one night).

And now into town for dinner (salmon in Hollandaise sauce with rice and actual vegetables). I'm writing the paper version of this in a bit of a park outside the Parks information centre (where I've been checking trails for tomorrow), and now I'm in tje same internet cafe as yesterday.

In case you didn't see, teh asnwer to teh driving quiz was lane positioning - the tendency is to be slightly too far over to the right, caused, I suppose, by sitting on the wrong side of teh car. ANother strange thing is hill starts, which the transmission handles automatically - where's the fun in that! And also odd is not being able to slow down by changing down gears. But I've got used to iut all now :)

Tomorrow: my one day of doing trails in Jasper itself, and a third and final night in this hostel. Back to civilisation after that!
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: sillytrippy
2008-06-29 08:53 pm (UTC)

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My dad was visiting me last week, and rented an automatic, so we were discussing the gears thing. I haven't really driven since passing my test, but the idea of a clutch is so entrenched in me as a part of driving that I can't imagine it not being there. Hill starts in particular. I sortof understand that the car will hold you there as you switch from brake to accelerator, but my mind still screams "where's the clutch?!".

Probably just as well I don't drive :-)
[User Picture]From: sjr53
2008-06-30 01:41 am (UTC)

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Yes, it feels totally wrong being able to sit on a hill, and in fact creep forward, if you don't have your foot on the brake! But you get used to it :)