Thursday, October 14, 2010

Banff and Jasper Trip, Part 6: Mt.Edith Cavell

    Another part of the on going series of my trip to Banff and Jasper National Parks in Alberta during September. This next phase of my vacation was filled with a lot of traveling and some delightful views of some of the most beautiful spots in the world. As a photographer, and a visitor I found the trip rewarding, but one of the most important things to remember is to take your face away from the viewfinder sometimes! You can miss a lot, and not really enjoy yourself if you don't. I still have a lot to cover, so let's get started.

    For the second half of my third day, I headed down the Icefield's highway (93) and cut off onto 93A, which gives you access to Mt.Edith Cavell. The drive from Jasper to 93A isn't very long, 5-10 minutes at the most, but you do need a National Park day pass to head down that part of the highway. Highway 93A was just repaved from the north side, till just a mile or so south of the Edith Cavell road, where it becomes extremely ruff. Edith Cavell road is also freshly repaved, making the 15 minute drive up the hills to the mountain very easy. The road itself is extremely curvy and has many tight switchbacks, so the speed limit on the road is 40km/h for a good reason. The drive is worth while though, because the view is stunning!

The Lower Trail Head

    Edith Cavell has to be one of my favorite stops along the Icefields Highway, because the landscape is so rugged. Only through photos can I show that though, so I'll keep the words to a minimum. 

The Base of Edith Cavell Is In Sight

The high elevation makes this a tiring hike, because it is harder to get enough oxygen, so older people should take it easy going up. The lower trail isn't overly steep, but the high trail is extreme steep and shouldn't be attempted by anyone who isn't in good physical condition.

The Base of Edith Cavell and the Glacier Fed Lake

    The scene at the base of Mt.Edith Cavell is stunning, so it was too bad that I couldn't see the peak due to the cloud cover and mist. I suspect arriving later in the afternoon might have solved that, but I didn't have time to revisit this location. The glacier fed lake at the base is completely covered by Ice most of the year, but for a few months of the year you can see the scene as I did. I took some photos of the ice, due to some interesting patterns in it.

 Glacial Ice On the Lake Beneath Mt.Edith Cavell

There were some people climbing on the ice, which is a dangerous game to play, because just above the lake is the Angel Glacier. During my time at Edith Cavell you could hear parts of the Angel Glacier shifting, which sounded like long drawn out claps of thunder. 

The Angel Glacier

It is easy to see how the Angel Glacier got it's name, all you have to do is look at the shape. Water from this glacier heads down the valley from Edith Cavell into Cavell Lake and then finds it's way into the Athabasca River.

Looking Down Towards Cavell Lake

    From the vantage point of this last photo you can see how steep the lower trail is, as the height is somewhat deceptive on the way up. The cloud cover started to break at this time, but was still clinging to the peak of the higher mountains, so I never saw the peak of Edith Cavell during my visit. Some of the trees that you can see in today's photos have been growing for a long time, even to get to the size that they are. The growing season in Jasper National Park at this altitude is only one or two months of the year. Due to the warming climate though, that may not be the case in a few decades; at some point in the future this currently open hillside may be covered with an evergreen forest.