Tag Archives: Alberta

After the Glacier

When glaciers melt the water races downhill.  In its race as it tumbles over rocks it sometimes forms waterfalls.  And how long can you watch and listen to the roaring water?

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Brr, The Columbia Icefield

Heading north to escape the heat is a summer ritual many Phoenicians participate in.  Most head to the higher elevations of Northern Arizona where temperatures typically are ‘only’ in the 90’s during the day but cool off to a nice 50 or 60 at night or towards San Diego where we are affectionately? know as Zonies.  Hey, it beats highs of 110 and lows in the 90’s.

Wooly and Raeski have also been known to follow the ritual of heading north.  However Wooly sometimes likes to go the extra mile, or in this case, the extra 1,600 miles.  Not only did we escape the heat, there were times we were downright cold.

Like the time we stood on the Athabasca Glacier in Alberta Canada.  The glacier flows from the Columbia Icefield which happens to be the largest ice mass in North America south of the Arctic Circle.  How large is it?  It’s big, very big.  It covers a 130 square mile area and has a maximum depth of 1,200 feet which is about the height of the Empire State Building.

It was a great day when we stood on the Athabasca Glacier.  We were taken onto the ice in these massive buses to an area where it is safe and we didn’t have to worry about falling into a crevasse.  Standing on the ice with the Columbia Icefield towering over us was very cool.  Well, actually it was quite cold since cold air has the pesky habit of flowing down.  And guess where all the cold air was blowing that day.  Yup, right down the glacier where we stood.

And if you are wondering if this glacier is retreating the answer is yes – as all the glaciers fed by the Columbia Icefield are.  Since the industrial age began the Athabasca has retreated 1.5 miles and the rate of ice loss is accelerating.  And yes, Wooly and Raeski agree with the climate scientists that say that human activity is a major contributor to climate change.  When 95% of all climate scientists agree on this, one must question why the other 5% are still in disagreement.  Perhaps it’s because of who pays them.

Enjoy the show of water in one of its purest and most ancient forms.  Glacial ice.

Animals

Last summer we saw many amazing places and lots of wildlife.  Some were expected and others were a complete surprise.  The first surprise was spotting a young bighorn sheep in Zion National Park.  In Rocky Mountain NP we saw elk.  Driving in Wyoming I had to stop the car to get pictures of a herd of antelope.

In Yellowstone we were hiking on a trail and had to walk by that big bison.  Being that close did make me a little nervous.  After all, he was definitely a wild animal.  Further north in Glacier NP is where we saw the adorable young mountain goat sticking close to mom.  On the same hike to Hidden Lake we saw the furry little marmot.  Legend has that they will eat anything they can sink their teeth into.

It wasn’t until we got to Canada’s Glacier Waterton NP when we finally saw bear.  It’s hard to tell from the photo whether this is a brown bear or a grizzly.  A brown bear’s nose is fairly straight and a grizzly bear has a more rounded nose.  It’s hard to tell from the photo which it is and I stuck to using my telephoto lens instead of getting closer.  And finally we saw caribou near Jasper Alberta.  They are huge!

I am always happy when I can photograph animals in the wild and feel fortunate when I spot them.  When asked why I’m an environmentalist who wants to save habitats, these photos are my answer.  One of my favorite presidents, Teddy Roosevelt, recognized that states cannot be trusted to save the land and protect it from commercial exploitation.  I abhor what’s going on in the West with a few people who feel the federal government has no right to protect land for future generations.