Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ben's Stag in Jasper

Trip Date: July 2010

Ben and Jess would be getting married in August of 2010, so we decided to throw him a bachelor party up in Jasper National Park.  We'd been tossing the idea around about a men's only weekend camping trip, or a "meekend" as we'd nicknamed it, and what better way to kick it off than with a stag party?  I was meeting the guys up in Jasper, so I thought I'd stop at the Columbia Icefield on my way.

The Columbia Icefield is approximately 315km northwest of Calgary along the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93).  The icefield is the largest in the Canadian Rockies with an area of 325 square-kilometres.  The ice is anywhere from 100m to 365m thick and it receives up to 7m of snowfall annually.  The icefield feeds six major glaciers (Athabasca, Castleguard, Columbia, Dome, Stutfield, and Saskatchewan) and is surrounded by some of the tallest peaks in the Canadian Rockies, including Mt. Columbia, which is the highest point in Alberta.  The icefield was first reported in 1898 by J. Norman Collie and Hermann Woolley after the two completed the first ascent of Mt. Athabasca.  

Athabasca Glacier of the Columbia Icefield
Mt. Andromeda and the toe of the Athabasca Glacier
Snow Dome and the Dome Glacier
Mt. Athabasca and the North Glacier
After a brief stop at the icefield I continued on to Jasper and met up with the rest of the guys.  We had a hike planned for that afternoon.  Jasper is about 415km northwest of Calgary along the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93).  We decided on the Cavell Meadows Trail as well as the Path of the Glacier Trail for our afternoon activities.  The Cavell Meadows Trail is a 7km round-trip hike with about 500m in elevation gain, while the  Path of the Glacier Trail is 1.6km return with only 70m gained in elevation.  The hikes give spectacular views of Mt. Edith Cavell as well as the hanging Angel Glacier.  We also got to see the Cavell Glacier and Cavell Pond up close and were lucky enough to see pieces of the glacier calving off into the water below.  It was really neat to watch it all happen!

Mt. Edith Cavell as viewed from the parking lot
Sorrow Peak also viewed from the parking lot
The hanging Angel Glacier
The boys, minus the Haugrud brothers
Mt. Edith Cavell, Angel Glacier and Sorrow Peak.  Notice the small Ghost Glacier on the left side of Mt. Edith Cavell.
We spotted this Caribou standing on a nearby ridge
The Bachelor!
Cavell Glacier and Cavell Pond
Large chunks of ice floating in Cavell Pond
We also wanted to do some white water rafting while we were in Jasper for the weekend.  Maligne Rafting Adventures would be the company guiding us down the Fraser River.  According to their website the rapids are up to a Class 3, so we should be in for some fun.

Ben wearing his special rafting gear!
His buddy the giraffe
Listening intently to safety instructions
Launching onto the Fraser River in the shadow of Mt. Robson
The bachelor party boat
Beginning the rafting adventure
Apparently we do more posing than actual paddling!
Rearguard Falls.  We didn't actually run this waterfall, we had to portage around it.
Hitting some rapids
Taking on a little water...
...luckily we had Benny as our own personal splash guard!
Time for a cold swim because we weren't wet enough already!
Due to a pretty extensive fire restriction within Jasper National Park at the time, we opted to stay at William A. Switzer Provincial Park instead.  The park is about 100km northeast of the town of Jasper along Highway 40 and was much quieter than if we stayed within the national park.  We stayed in the Gregg Lake Campground, which is one of three in the park, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting a quiet place to camp.  

Gregg Lake
Lily Pads on the lake
We survived the First Annual Meekend adventure!

In August 2012 the Ghost Glacier, on the north face of Mt. Edith Cavell (see photo above), fell off and landed in the Cavell Pond below.  Here's a brief description from the Jasper Trail Alliance Facebook page, "Madame Cavell just couldn't take it anymore.  Sometime in the night, she said bye, bye to the Ghost Glacier.  It relinquished its irresolute clutch on the north face of Cavell and plunged into the lake sending a tidal wave of displaced water, rock, ice, debris, and mud.  This unbelievable force consumed, gobbled, and covered the Path of the Glacier Trail, parking lots, and outhouses."  The photos are unbelievable.

Where the Ghost Glacier used to be
The road leading to the parking lot
What remains of the parking lot

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