2009 Alaska travel blog

Jasper National Park - Whistler Campground - Loop 56, Site K

Jasper National Park - Whistler Campground - Loop 56, Site K, another...

Elks in Campground 1

Elks in Campground 2

Elks in Campground 3

Elks in Campground 4

McBride to Jasper Scenery 1 - Mt. Robson, the highest peak in...

McBride to Jasper Scenery 2 - here you can see a glacier...

McBride to Jasper Scenery 3 - some more glaciers

McBride to Jasper Scenery 4 - one of the lakes on the...

McBride to Jasper Scenery 5

McBride to Jasper Scenery 6 - here we are waiting about 20...

McBride to Jasper Scenery 7 - this is what they had blown...

McBride to Jasper Scenery 8 - it created quite a traffic jam,...

McBride to Jasper Scenery 9 - but the scenery was breathtaking!

Grizzly cub along side road

Grizzly cub along side road 2

Moose Lake trail 1

Moose Lake trail 2 - Moose Lake

Moose Lake trail 3 - Maligne Lake

Moose Lake trail 4 - Maligne Lake 2

Moose Lake trail 5 - close up of range behind Maligne Lake

Moose Lake trail 6 - The wildflowers are about done for this...

The Maligne Valley

The wildflowers are about done for this year

Another colorful mountain range around Jasper

Mt. Whistler Tram 1 - range to the northwest - Mt. Robson...

Mt. Whistler Tram 2 - close up of Mt. Robson - the...

Mt. Whistler Tram 3 - the mountain range just north of Jasper

Mt. Whistler Tram 4 - the tram station is the little green...

Mt. Whistler Tram 5 - close up of tram station and two...

Mt. Whistler Tram 6 - the town of Jasper and the mountain...

Mt. Whistler Tram 7 - more of the Athabasca River and the...

Mt. Whistler Tram 8 - the mountain ranges south of Jasper

Mt. Whistler Tram 9 - the Icefield Parkway crossing the Athabasca River

Mt. Whistler Tram 10 - close up of the glacier fed lakes...

Mt. Whistler Tram 11 - close up of Jasper

Mt. Whistler Tram 12 - Libby in the parking lot as we...

Path of the Glacier Trail 1 - the view from the road...

Path of the Glacier Trail 2 - this is where we are...

Path of the Glacier Trail 3 - you can see the horizonatl...

Path of the Glacier Trail 4 - this is the view of...

Path of the Glacier Trail 5 - the golden-mantled ground squirrel welcomes...

Path of the Glacier Trail 6 - a better shot showing his...

Path of the Glacier Trail 7 - about half way up the...

Path of the Glacier Trail 8 - what's left of Cavell Glacier...

Path of the Glacier Trail 9 - we are right under Angel...

Path of the Glacier Trail 10 - this is still part of...

Path of the Glacier Trail 11 - the terminus of Angel Glacier...

Path of the Glacier Trail 12 - as the glacier recedes, this...

Path of the Glacier Trail 13 - the valley left behind by...

Path of the Glacier Trail 14 - the beginnings of a new...

Path of the Glacier Trail 15 - our new buddy is now...

Icefield Parkway 1 - Athabasca Falls 1

Icefield Parkway 2 - Athabasca Falls 2

Icefield Parkway 3 - one of the beautiful mountains surrounding the drive

Icefield Parkway 4 - we saw a couple of Black Bear cubs...

Icefield Parkway 5 - the other one

Icefield Parkway 6 - Sunwapta Falls 1 - the top

Icefield Parkway 7 - Sunwapta Falls 2 - the bottom

Icefield Parkway 8 - the canyon wall created by the Sunwapta River...

Icefield Parkway 9 - Stutfield Glacier

Icefield Parkway 10 - Stutfield Glacier close-up

Icefield Parkway 11 - a loud-mouthed Raven at the turnout

Icefield Parkway 12 - Tangle Falls

Icefield Parkway 13 - the Athabasca Glacier as seen from the Icefield...

Icefield Parkway 14 - close-up of the Athabasca Glacier - can you...

Icefield Parkway 15 - Another glacier seen from the Icefield Center

Icefield Parkway 16 - and another

Icefield Parkway 17 - and two more to the left of Athabasca...

Icefield Parkway 18 - Bridal Veil Falls - every national park must...

Wildlife Tour 1 - a Mule Deer

Wildlife Tour 2 - and another Mule Deer

Wildlife Tour 3 - an Osprey nest with Ospreys - I needed...

Wildlife Tour 4 - a coyote near the dump

Wildlife Tour 5 - the same coyote

Wildlife Tour 6 - a beaver lodge

Wildlife Tour 7 - a Mountain Goat male

Wildlife Tour 8 - another shot of the big male

Wildlife Tour 9 - the mom and two kids from different years

Wildlife Tour 10 - another coyote just laying and watching

Wildlife Tour 11 - Pyramid Lake just north of Jasper

Wildlife Tour 12 - the sun is going down on the range...

Wildlife Tour 13 - another shot across Pyramid Lake

Movie Clips - Playback Requirements - Problems?

(MP4 - 3.09 MB)

Athabasca Falls 1

(MP4 - 1.98 MB)

Athabasca Falls 2 - the bottom

(MP4 - 2.08 MB)

Athabasca Falls 3 - the outflow

(MP4 - 2.76 MB)

Sunwapta Falls 1

(MP4 - 3.27 MB)

Sunwapta Falls 2 - Bottom and Outflow

(MP4 - 4.05 MB)

Cavell Glacier and Cavell Pond

(MP4 - 2.70 MB)

Angel Glacier and falls


The trip from McBride to Jasper was only 101 miles but it took about 2:30 to get here due to a long delay waiting on them to blast down part of a slide area on the side of a mountain and clear it. The biggest problem is not just the wait but the traffic congestion as 20 minutes of traffic gets jammed up tight. We were really glad we only had nine more miles to go and didn’t have to contend with it long. The campground here at Whistler is huge! There are over 680 sites of which 117 are full hookup pull-throughs which is what we have. The sites are fairly large and very shaded, which also eliminates the DirecTV, but at least we have cell service!

After setting up camp, we went into the town of Jasper for a bite to eat and to get some trail and other information from the Visitor’s Center. Jasper is a town within the National Park and has a population of about 4,000. It reminds you a lot of Gatlinburg although not quite as crowded, at least this time of year. Unlike Gatlinburg, Jasper is actually in the National Park instead of just outside of the park. It has a lot of restaurants, shops and hotels just like Gatlinburg though. I understand the town of Banff inside Banff National Park is the same way. We will find out Friday when we get there.

Wednesday was a busy day. First off we went to Moose Lake Trail about 30 miles outside of Jasper near Maligne (pronounced Maleen) Lake. On the way there we came across a Grizzly cub eating berries alongside the road. I never was able to get a good picture as he never got his head out of the bushes. No idea where the mom was though we kept a lookout for her. Hopefully the cub isn’t by itself or it most likely will not make it through the winter. It was a nice two-mile hike and Doris came though it fine. Her knee had really been bothering her and then last week she had some excruciating pain it all of a sudden and it has been getting better, almost like something was in the wrong place and popped back in. We went by Moose Lake which is a small serene lake that was really pretty (but no Moose!) and also by Maligne Lake which is a much larger recreational lake, also pretty in its own way, especially with the mountains in the background.

After walking the trail, we came back into Jasper and took the tram up to the top of Mt. Whistler. It got its name not from the wind whistling over the rocks but by the sound the Hoary Marmots on the mountain make when communicating with each other. It was very pretty up there with all of the mountain ranges lying out before you and, luckily it was a clear day and we could see forever. We were even able to see Mt Robson which is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. It is much like Denali in that it is tall enough and large enough to make its own weather and is rarely seen in its entirety due to the clouds.

We then went on a late evening wildlife tour that disappointed us for the most part. We did see a couple of Mule Deer, a couple of Coyotes, and some Mountain Goats though.

Thursday we started with a hike to some glaciers. To get there we had to drive 16 miles of which 11 of it was up the side of a mountain: Mt. Edith Cavell which is a little over 10,000 feet high. We then hiked a mile over what used to be covered by glaciers to two glaciers: Cavell Glacier and Angel Glacier. They are almost side by side with Angel Glacier being quite a bit higher and laying between Mt. Edith Cavell and Sorrow Peak. It has the two wings going up both peaks and the legs lying in the valley between. Cavell Glacier has almost completely receded and continues to calf into Cavell Pond which is full if icebergs. Angel Glacier calves and causes small avalanches to fall on the right side of Cavell Glacier making it so dirty it looks like part of the mountain instead of ice. But you can still see the ice caves in it. The melting of Angel Glacier also sends a pretty good waterfall down as well. We just sat there for about a half-hour and enjoyed the beauty before heading back to the trailhead.

Next we started up the Icefield Parkway which is highway 93 and runs about 150 miles between Jasper National Park and Lake Louise in Banff National Park. We had no more than got started when we ran up on two black bear cubs eating alongside the road. We never were able to get close to them but I have included the pictures anyway. We then went to Athabasca Falls. This was a very powerful fall that the entire Athabasca River flows over. It has created a very deep, narrow gorge in the rocks which are mad of dissimilar materials so that they erode at different rates and it has created a very unique fall. I have included pictures and a few videos so you can see and hear it.

We then went a little further down the Parkway to Sunwapta Falls. This is another fall created by a river supplied by a glacier, as all the rivers in this area are. Interestingly all of the rivers run clear during the winter and during the snowmelt when the glaciers are not melting. Once the glaciers start melting the rivers fill with the silty water that makes up the glacier ice and the water is very milky in color. The Sunwapta Falls was a little smaller than the Athabasca but was unique in its own way too.

After leaving Sunwapta we stopped at several turnouts to see the incredible views that these mountains give. We encountered Tangle Falls which is right at the Parkway – no hiking required. It was the tallest of the falls we saw today but being fed by a small creek, had much less water flowing over it. It was still very pretty.

We then made our way to the Icefield Center which is 60 miles from where we started down the Parkway. We will be retracing this route tomorrow when we go to Banff but we wanted to get this part of it out of the way so that the trip will go faster tomorrow. The Icefield Center is front and center before the Columbia Icefield which is made up of many, many glaciers. I included pictures of a few, most noticeably the Athabasca Glacier which drains into the Lake Athabasca which then feeds the Athabasca River that flows all the way to Jasper and beyond. They also have what is called the Glacier Experience which is small busses mounted on caterpillar tracks to travel across the Athabasca Glacier. They take you out onto the glacier and then let you walk on it. We didn’t take advantage of this opportunity as we have been up close and personal with a lot of glaciers and didn’t see the need to spend $100 and two hours waiting to do it again.

After returning to the campground we started getting ready for the trip tomorrow. We have done everything but pulled the electrical plug and put in the bedroom slide so we can get an early start, allowing us to stop as necessary on the other 90 miles of the Icefield Parkway. While doing all of this, three female elk came roaming through the campground eating the grass. It was getting dark so we had trouble again getting good sharp shots since we didn’t want to use the flash and scare them. I don’t know when I will get this posted as I have no internet now and don’t really expect to get it for another week. You will have a lot of catching up to do when I get them all posted!!!

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