Posted by Van on Tuesday Jun 21, 2011

At the end of our day traveling up the Icefields Parkway, we stayed at a Jasper National Park campground. The next day, June 18 (happy birthday, Brother!), we explored Jasper. Jasper was a very nice little town; it was surrounded by snow-capped mountains. And it was busy. It was full of cute, alpine houses and felt a lot like Banff, but a little less touristy.

From Jasper, we drove west to Prince George. I have never seen so much untouched, contiguous forest in all my life, as on that four hour trip. It was simply amazing. Aside from the road and the occasional rest area, there were few signs of man. No houses, no farms, no crossroads, nothing. There was one town somewhere in the middle, McBride, and even that was quietly nestled into the pine forest.

Along the way, we spotted two black bears and a fox. We stopped for lunch at a rest area. Jean made homemade egg mcmuffins, and they were wonderful! Another shout-out goes to our pal, Lori, who the kids praise for introducing them to this and so many other culinary treats.

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Athabasca Falls

Posted by Ellie on Tuesday Jun 21, 2011

After the cool grizzly bear we continued up the Icefields Parkway. We drove along the Sunwapta River and then the Athabasca River. We went to Athabasca Falls. When we got there we put on our tennis shoes and groaned. We walked though a small forest until we came to the Athabasca River.

Athabasca River, on its way to the Arctic Ocean

We walked along the river to a bridge and we looked at the waterfall. It was roaring down. We also saw a rainbow. We could feel the mist. After that we went across another bridge. Mommy said she was going to go start dinner. After that we walked though a forest and came to another lookout. We listened to the waterfall for a few minutes and then we went down in this small canyon. We were surrounded by rock walls. We went to this pit place. Dad says it was called a pothole. It was like a small swamp with dirty water. After that we went to another lookout over the waterfall. It was roaring and then it became a calm river again. We looked at the color of it and then headed back. It was frosty blue, like Bow Lake.

Athabasca Falls

We passed the roaring waterfall on the way back up. When we got back to the RV we had pasta, the kind that Lori made. It was really good.

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Athabasca Glacier

Posted by Stella on Tuesday Jun 21, 2011

June 17, my family went to see the Athabasca Glacier. When we first got there, I saw a mini lake. I don’t think it had a name but it was still pretty. [Editor’s note: These were the headwaters of the Sunwapta River, bound for the arctic ocean.] Then, beyond the lake was a huge chunk of ice. I don’t mean huge like the size of my head, I mean huge like 20 football fields. Maybe even 30. Yeah, probably 30. So anyway, Dad said it was a glacier. Athabasca Glacier.

We took a short hike up a hill so we could get closer to it. Ellie, Greta, and I ran ahead, and Ana hung back with the parents. We beat them by about five minutes, and it seemed like forever, but finally they came. We walked a little farther, out to where the rope was. The rope was there to stop people from walking out onto the glacier. There were signs all over telling the stories of deaths or terrible injuries from falling in crevases or the ice breaking and people falling into the freezing cold water. But don’t worry, we didn’t go anywhere near the ice or the river flowing underneath it. We were on land that was about 20 to 50 feet from any ice. We were safe, and we had a nice time.

So when we got back down the hill, we raced back to the RV. I was the first one to touch it. When we were all loaded up, we parked across the road in an RV slot in the parking lot for the Icefields Visitor Center and hopped out. We all walked up the stairs to the building. It looked huge, but when we stepped inside, it seemed tiny. I don’t know why.

Right now, Dad is reminding me what we learned in there. Dad says that a glacier is an ice river, and the Athabasca glacier is about 4 miles long. He says the glacier moves down the mountain a few inches per day. So, in the picture below, the glacier on the left is 4 miles long and moving slowly down the mountain. The steep parts are like an ice waterfall, and they are called icefalls. In the visitor center, there was this big 3D map that Dad told us to look at. He said that on the top of all the mountains was a huge bowl-like valley. That valley was filled with ice and snow. It is called the Columbia Icefield. It is so big that it covers all the mountains around it and drops a dozen glaciers down from it. Athabasca Glacier is one of them. So do you remember how big I said the glacier was? 30 football fields? Well, the Columbia Icefield is about 125 square miles. So that would be about 60,000 football fields! I told you it was huge!

Athabasca glacier flows down from Columbia Icefield in the left valley, Dome glacier flows down the right. Snowdome is up on top, in between them. The icefield extends back on the other side of the mountains.

So Dad says that there’s something called the Continental Tri-vide, or apex, or something like that. I think it sounds better than the triple continental divide, don’t you? Well, on the Continental Tri-vide, if a raindrop or snowflake falls on it, it can go to either the Pacific, Atlantic, or Arctic Ocean. There’s a place on the Columbia Icefield called the Snowdome. The top of the Snowdome is where the apex of North America is located.

We had a fun time at the visitor center and to make it better, as we were leaving, we each got a Canada National Parks passport, and a butterscotch-flavored candy cane.

With a Mountie at the Icefield Center

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Icefields Parkway

Posted by Ana on Tuesday Jun 21, 2011

June 17, we went to Sunwapta Pass. We took some pictures there. We saw this really cool mountain. It had snow on it and I imagined that I was sliding down that mountain. There was a really cool waterfall next to it, but we didn’t take a picture of it.

Crossing Sunwapta Pass. That is the North Saskatchewan River down in the valley.

At Sunwapta Pass, if a raindrop fell on my head and bounced off it could run down to either of the oceans. But not to the Pacific Ocean. If it ran to the river behind me in the picture it would go to the Atlantic Ocean, but if it went to the other side of the mountain it would go to the Arctic Ocean. The Arctic Ocean is at the top of the world.

We found a really cool waterfall. It had three or four waterfallish things at the top and then joined into one waterfall. My dad also saw a big pile of snow along the side of the waterfall that we didn’t realize was there. We got our candy sticks and watched it go down. It was pouring down. Daddy says it was called Tangle Creek Falls.

Tangle Creek Falls

We left the Icefields Parkway. I was sad.

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Title, The Grizzly Bear

Posted by Ana on Monday Jun 20, 2011

We saw a grizzly bear. Of course, we knew not to get out of the car. Somebody else did get out of their car, but not in this family, and he went close to take some pictures.

The grizzly bear was light brown. We thought it might be a black bear because black bears can be brown, but usually they are black. The grizzly bear didn’t roar. I thought it would roar because the guy was getting too close. The grizzly bear walked closer to the guy and started to dig. I thought the bear was cool. I thought the guy was not cool. We sat and watched the bear.

Seeing our first Grizzly Bear

I like seeing animals because they have different brains than us. I imagine I am like those animals. I imagine I am eating grass. Seeing a moose the first time was really exciting. Seeing the grizzly was more exciting. Seeing deer is not as exciting because we have seen a ton of deer.

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Two Stunning Lakes

Posted by Greta on Monday Jun 20, 2011

On June 17th, after leaving Lake Louise, we took a nice drive on the Icefields Parkway on our way to Jasper National Park. It was BEAUTIFUL.

There was still ice on the surface of Bow Lake

First we saw Bow Lake. It was a frosty blue-green, with mountains all around it. I thought it was amazing, but then Dad said we’d see another lake that was ten times as beautiful, Peyto Lake.

When we got there, we got our hiking shoes on ’cause there was a little hike we had to take before we could reach the lake. When we did, I was SPEACHLESS. It wasn’t that big, but the color and scenery around it was gorgeous. It was honestly the brightest blue I had ever seen in my life; it made my blue sweatshirt look like a lame excuse for a bright blue. There were lots of mountains and glaciers surrounding it.

No photo can capture the actually color of Peyto Lake

I marveled at the lake for awhile, and then suddenly I heard a thundering noise that no one seemed to hear except my family. At first it was just a loud, distant BOOM! But then I heard snapping, cracking, tumbling. It was an avalanche, tearing down trees and scraping rocks as it barreled down the mountain! Unfortunately we couldn’t see it since it was on the other side of the mountain, but it was so cool to hear it. SO cool. The thundering sound went on for a long time.

We kept driving and suddenly we saw another RV parked on the side of the road, obviously looking at something. Once we pulled over to join them, we saw that it was… a black bear! We watched it eat for a little bit and then drove on our way.

A Black Bear walking along the Icefields Parkway

Some time later, we saw a whole MOB of cars parked at the side of the road. This time it was a grizzly bear!!! Some fool got out of his car, actually a few fools, and they were trying to take a picture of it. They were SO CLOSE to it, within twenty feet of it. I wanted to shout, “DUDE(S)! THAT”S A GRIZZLY BEAR! HE’S GONNA ATTACK YOU!!!” But of course I didn’t. I let them suffer the consequences.

It was such a beautiful drive!

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Going to Lake Louise

Posted by Ellie on Monday Jun 20, 2011

On June 16 we went Lake Louise. When we got out of the RV it was raining. What a good time to go on a hike. It was cold, miserable, and annoying.

We walked and saw orange fish in the water. We saw one at first. We had to cross a bridge to get across. We walked along side the steam for a couple of minutes and then we reached Lake Louise.

Lake Louise was green and blue together and it made the brightest color you could imagine. We looked for fish in the lake but we had no luck. After that we took turns taking pictures of the parents.

At Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada

There were steps so you could go and touch the water. It was not as cold as I thought it would be. We saw some ice on the lake. It was surrounded by mountains. We saw a glacier at the other end of the lake. We also saw a lodge. I wanted to go and get warm. We looked at the lake one more time and headed back.

We saw a ton of fish in the creek. One looked dead. We tried to get our pictures but it looked like just the stream. After that we went back and got in the warm RV.

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Banff Library

Posted by Ana on Monday Jun 20, 2011

June 16, we went to a library in Banff. We sat down to do time4learning. I brought my math book in and did some math. I got up to take some breaks and Ellie and Stella did sometimes, too. We didn’t have enough time to read. I just looked at the pictures in books. Then I went back to my math. I would do two pages, take a break, do two more pages, and then take a break. It seemed like we would never leave. But we finally did.

Hanging out in Banff, Alberta

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