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.
Athabasca Glacier is one of the five major glaciers feeding from the Columbia Icefields.
The triple cascade of the Athabasca Glacier.
Those dots on the glacier are people and the giant sized ice buses.
Raeski kicks the tires.
Legend says that drinking the water from the Athabasca Glacier will add 10 years to your life. Hey, it’s worth a shot.
Brr. The wind is blowing down from the Columbia Icefield as Wooly and Raeski pose for the camera on the Athabasca Glacier and it’s cold!
Another glacier flowing from the Columbia Icefield.
The Columbia Icefields feeds a glacier sliding down a mountain.
The Dome Glacier is one of the many ‘minor’ glaciers feed by the Columbia Icefield.
Denial doesn’t slow it or stop it. Facts remain unaffected by opinion and political rhetoric. By 2030 the namesake glaciers the park is named after will have all melted. When I look at the pictures I took on our travels last summer I am saddened with the knowledge that soon all that may be left are images like these of Glacier National Park.
After working two decades in science and research fields, Wooly finds the practice of construing opinion as scientific fact misrepresentation at best and using statistical outliers to promulgate bogus science that promotes a hidden agenda an even more abhorrent practice.
Enjoy these pictures and please consider we have the privilege of experiencing the real thing, something future generations may be denied. Which plants and animals will survive after the glaciers melt?
I will leave you today with these final thoughts. Allowing the most serious issue humanity has ever faced to become a political football is wrong. Doing the right thing for future generations will require honesty and sacrifice by virtually every human being on the planet. What legacy will you leave to your grandchildren and great grandchildren?
Having a Park Ranger friend has its advantages. With over 700 miles of trails, choosing a hike in Glacier National Park is made easier when Peggy shares her favorite. Of all the trails we hiked this summer, this was our favorite.
Approached from the eastern side of Glacier National Park; Iceberg Lake’s five mile trail starts with a section park rangers affectionately and appropriately call the stair-master. After huffing and puffing up the stair-master the trail levels and the rest of the hike is filled with stunning panoramic views that accompany each step.
Bears are abundant and hikers are encouraged to be noisy. Many people wear bells but isn’t that like ringing the dinner bell for those mostly hairless squishy things that are pink and tender in the middle? In seriousness we were given an informative tip for bear encounters on the trail. Essentially bears are lazy and use the trails because of the easy walking. If you encounter a bear you should do two things; make a lot of noise and get off the trail. Climbing uphill is recommended because you are getting off of the bear’s path and counting on his laziness to continue on the trail leaving you alone. If they follow you up it’s time to break out the bear spray.
Glacial fins, ancient sea-beds lifted up into mountains, and finally carved by glaciers ages ago tower above you. Flowers are blooming and color fills the meadows and valleys. Cresting over a ridge a small lake comes into view below the flower filled slope. Yet the trail passes by up another hill and then you see it. Ice filled turquoise waters surrounded by massive rock walls and the trail leading to the shore’s edge.
Ironically passing clouds photographers normally desire are shading the lake turning the
brilliant colored waters to dark blue. As we eat lunch we watch patterns of sunlight breaking through the clouds and passing over the lake spot-lighting the brilliant colors only rock flour laden waters can produce. A large whale shaped block of ice reflects brilliant blue as the sun’s rays pass over. The frigid water’s siren song calls until
you are compelled to dip a toe into the water. A teenager creates a memory he’ll never
forget as he jumps into the water. In a flash he’s out, wrapped in a towel and shivering.
Birds serenade us as we take in the beauty. Every direction reveals nature’s majesty and we are thankful for the 1910 decision to preserve the land for future generations.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Mark Twain