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Alberta, Jasper National Park: The Athabasca Glacier

Updated on November 2, 2011

To be perfectly honest before my last trip to Western Canada (Alberta & British Columbia), I had never felt snow or ice in the summer. I had never experienced my ears freezing-off in almost the middle of July. When I arrived in Revelstoke, British Columbia and saw all the snowy mountain peaks, I decided I wanted to get to the snowy/icy parts of at least one mountain ... I wanted to feel the winter in the summer - so to speak.

I knew nothing about glaciers or ice fields. My two other friends and I, only knew that the bears are bigger in Alberta and B.C (than the ones in Ontario of course). I did have a faint memory of a town called Jasper. Someone had imprinted it in my mind years ago - I have no idea who or when. Thus, I wanted to see the town of Jasper, Alberta and it just happened that to go there from Revelstoke, British Columbia, we ended-up driving by the Athabaska Glacier.

That was my chance of not only seeing some iced mountain peaks but actually taking a walk on a glacier in the middle of the summer. So we all went for a walk. It was quite the experience. I remember walking fairly high-up on the glacier and the wind was so cold that I had to put-up the hood of my jacket. I rarely do that, even in the winter but up there, it was cold!

I loved it though. I drank water from the melting glacier when I got thirsty; my buddies and I goofed around for a while, not really believing our surroundings and then, we made the trip down the glacier which I must say, it was tougher to do on the way down than on the way up. If you slip while going down, there is a good chance you will not stop until the bottom ... that would be a little painful in my opinion. I think there were ice shoes being rented or sold at the bottom of the glacier but those were not for us. We (or better say I) like the tough(er) road, usually.

For whoever thinks that there might be an opportunity to visit Jasper National Park, I encourage you to do so without any restrictions. One can go with a regular car, RVs, motorcycles, bicycles ... hitch-hike (it's pretty safe in my opinion - I often pick-up hitch-hikers), etc. Camping is also great and cheap. My friends and I camped there for the night, in the National Park not the glacier. Everything was superb and we got free wood!! That would never happen in Ontario ... wood is expensive here, even when you're in the middle of the forest.

(For those who were curious, I stand in the middle.)

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    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 6 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      It's quite an awesome feeling, walking on that glacier! Good walking shoes are an absolute must. You've inspired me to do the Icefield Parkway tour again. I hope you get to come back to Alberta for another visit soon.

    • Spirit Whisperer profile image

      Xavier Nathan 6 years ago from Isle of Man

      The Wolfman Jack has finally revealed himself! The one in the middle. It reminds me of one of my favourite songs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DohRa9lsx0Q

      This is another spectacular hub because the photos are truly amazing. I love the images you have conjured up here especially the one of drinking water from a glacier.

      This is definitely going to be another stop on a trip I will take someday.

      BTW I also like the idea put forward by Immartin of soaking in the hot springs and then plunging into the glacial fed pool.

      You should be writing for a travel company because you really do make me want to go.

      Thank you for sharing this and it sounds like you had great fun. For some reason I had imagined you on your own in the wilderness away from all humans and their influence. Have a great day.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      I hope you went and soaked in the Mynette Hot Springs (the hottest natural springs in North America) after your hike. When you've had enough of the heat, you can jump into the glacial fed plunge pool to cool off. If you're heart keeps beating, you're in good shape.

      Isn't Jasper just the greatest place? Not all built up like Banff but full of fun places.

      Thanks for showing me pictures of home. Lynda

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 6 years ago from United States

      I've never seen a glacier. Your article makes me want to go. Thank you!

    • amillar profile image

      amillar 6 years ago from Scotland, UK

      No wonder you look so fit.

    • k9charlee profile image

      k9charlee 6 years ago

      Beautiful pictures - I've been to Jasper National Park and it's amazing. The drive from Banff on the Icefields Parkway is one of my favorites.