I know some of you out there are Tired of Snow but…we never get winter here in coastal central California. I had to go to the Canadian Rockies to find some. Exploring the Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park, Alberta, last fall was well beyond amazing.
And therefore, you get a geology lesson today.
The glacier is part of the Columbia Icefield, the largest body of sub-polar ice in North America and the last remnant of a massive swathe of ice that once coated western Canada’s mountains. A wide, elevated plateau, the icefield is perfectly placed to catch most of the moisture from passing Pacific winds. Most of this moisture falls as snow, up to 23 feet of snow per year.
The summer season is so short that unmelted snow accumulates year after year and compresses into ice. These huge patches of ice flow outward toward gaps in the mountains surrounding the icefield, creating the huge “tongues” of ice we call glaciers.
The Athabasca glacier, at elevation 8,900 feet, is one of six “toes” of the icefield. The most visited glacier in North America due to its proximity to Banff and Jasper, this slow-moving river of ice flows down three three giant bedrocks steps.
In this picture, check out the little red circle I made. Those teensie black specks on the ice are actually the enormous coaches we rode in to visit the Athabasca.
And here are my husband and I getting ready to go~
Due to warming climate, the Athabasca has been continuously melting for the last 125 years. It’s lost half its volume and receded almost one mile. Every day, the Athabasca moves down the icefield several centimeters, or about one inch.
Well, hard to believe it’s warming! We drove up the icefield on Brewster Ice Explorers, massive vehicles designed especially for glacial travel. The tires are almost five feet high. Temp was 30 degrees, the wild wind chill a bazillion below. But what a day.
Our guide filled our empty water bottles with pristine, blue glacial-melt. Water like none other in this world. In fact, meltwater from the icefield flows to the Pacific, The Atlantic, and via Hudson Bay, the Arctic!
The blue tint to the glacier, indeed most of the rivers and lakes we saw, is due to “rock flour”–fine particles of bedrock ground up by glacial action. (I’ll show these surreal-colored bodies of water another time.) In the pic above, that’s a footprint.
Slippery beyond slippery. Indeed, crevasses have claimed unwary tourists and we were warned to Beware. Oh, a crevice is a narrow split in a rock or cliff; a crevasse is a deep fissure in a glacier.
But beautiful beyond beautiful.
The Athabasca, called an “outlet valley glacier,” is more than 3 ½ miles long, 2 1/2 square miles in area and, measured in various places, between three hundred and nearly a thousand feet thick. (In researching all these measurements, I had to convert from Canada’s metrics to ours LOL.)
Of course we had to get these mini toy Explorers for our grandsons.
Anyway, our day on the Athabasca Glacier was a day of days. And…my birthday to boot.
The hottie young Aussie who drove our Explorer and helped us on and off it, had this to say to my hubby with a saucy grin: “Whatcha gonna do to top THIS for her birthday next year, mate?”
One of the coolest (literally) memories I will ever have! What’s the most amazing “winter” place you’ve ever seen?
And who knows how I came up with the TITLE for this blog?
And since your my captive audience today, here’s another peek at Claiming His Heart, my latest:
Caught between a noose and a cave-in, Tulsa Sanderson must do anything possible to prove his brother’s innocence…even if it means marrying a gold miner’s daughter he just met. He needs every nugget and flake he can pull from her worn-out claim, but he sure doesn’t need a wife. Save his brother and he’ll be back on the Texas cattle trails. God, and trusting Him, are things of the past.
Charlotte Amalie lost her heart, her virtue, and her money to the last mysterious outsider in the valley. Faith? That’s wavered, too, after too many family tragedies. But she has no choice but to wed the handsome Tull. He bears terrible family secrets that need to be kept behind closed doors. Although she’s eager to leave the valley to find a new life for herself and medical treatments for her wounded brother, her unwanted marriage douses her plans, yet stirs up hope and love for Tull…and begins to fortify her weakened faith.
Can the two of them find a future–and faith–together even with their haunted pasts?
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