4) $PLATFORM=1; else $PLATFORM=2; } elseif (preg_match("/MSIE (\d)/i",$HTTP_USER_AGENT,$v)) { $browser="msie"; if (($version=$v[1])>4) $PLATFORM=1; else $PLATFORM=2; } elseif (preg_match("/Mozilla(?:\/|\s)(\d)/i",$HTTP_USER_AGENT,$v)) { $browser="navigator"; if (($version=$v[1])>4) $PLATFORM=1; else $PLATFORM=2; } else { $browser="other"; $version="unknown"; $PLATFORM=2; } } ?> The Icefields Parkway & the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge

The Icefields Parkway & the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge
The Drive Along the Icefields Parkway

by Norm Goldman

Pardon my slang when I say, "you ain’t seen nothing yet "until you have motored along The Icefields Parkway, sometimes referred to as "the wonder trail" and one of the most scenic mountain routes in the world stretching from Banff to Jasper in the heart of the Alberta Rockies.

As we drove along this incredible parkway I wondered how it felt during the height of the economic depression in 1931 to have been employed as part of a relief project, and paid the paltry sum of twenty cents a day to use picks, shovels, horses and a few tractors to construct a single lane gravel road extending 143 miles through some of the roughest terrain in Canada. It took nine years to finally open this highway that today is one of the most popular and scenic in Alberta, and which over a million people drive on each year.

Driving through the snow -capped parkway requires a special pass, as its primary objective was and still is to provide a scenic drive and not a transportation corridor. In fact, you will not see any large trucks on the road, although you will see many tour buses, RVs, cyclists, and if you are fortunate much wildlife. After all it is their home you are entering and it is not uncommon to come across over two hundred and fifty species of birds, grizzlies, black bears, coyotes, wolves, elk, deer, mountain goats, bighorn sheep and many others wandering around the glacier-fed rivers, flowing streams, thundering waterfalls, or near lakes, rivers and valleys. They may even be taking a leisurely walk along the parkway so be very careful if you do come in contact with these animals and remember to stay a fair distance away. If you are driving this parkway during the winter months beware that this is avalanche territory and from time to time the roads are closed.

The name Icefields Parkway is very appropriate, as you will be able to view the seven mesmerizing icefields or large upland glaciers and approximately twenty- five small ones dating back to the ice age.

You won’t want to miss the most famous destination along the parkway, the one hundred and twenty five square mile ice cap known as the Columbia Icefield -one of the largest accumulations of ice south of the Arctic Circle, and a remnant of the huge icefields that at one time covered Alberta.It is this glacier that feeds rivers flowing into the Atlantic, Pacific and Artic Oceans.

Favorite stopping points along the way, and ones we enjoyed and strongly recommend are: Bow Summit that is the highest point along the parkway and probably provides you with the one of the most magnificent mountain panoramas in the world, Peyto Lake, Sunwapta Falls, Athabasca Falls, Hector Lake, where you will discover a typical lake formed in a glacial basin, Upper Waterfowl Lake, Weeping Wall, and Hector Lake, where you will discover a typical lake formed in a glacial basin. The highlight of our drive was experiencing the Ice Explorer Ride or "snocoach" that brought us up to the surface of the Athabasca Glacier.

At one time the Athabasca Glacier and the Columbia Icefield formed an enormous ice sheet carving the landforms of the Rocky Mountains. As our driver guide informed us, today this glacier moves at a pace of two inches a day or fifty feet a year down the mountain valley.

The "snocoach" vehicles with their huge wheels are able to ride the surface of a glacier, and trust me when I say it is quite a thrill to ride on the surface. These tours are open from the beginning of May to mid-October.

You can also experience the glacier on foot; however, it is highly recommended that you do so with an experienced guide, otherwise you may find yourself falling into a crevice.


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