Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Icefields Parkway - Athabasca Falls by bike

You can only get here by foot, and only if you've stayed off the path 

beaten by hundreds of thousands of car-and-tour-bus passengers before you. The Athabasca Falls are about 30km south of Jasper on the Icefields Parkway and they ~ and the deep, pot-holed chasms and channels that the mint-blue water has cut ~ are truly spectacular.

But as dusk sets in and the sun's light gets golden ~ as the three parking lots empty of RVs and buses ~ what really moves Michelle and I to silence are the square rocks that form a rough beach at eh Falls' downstream, where the frothing water turns placid green and ready to begin its flow northwards to the Arctic.

The small beach area has become an impromptu sculpture park. Inukshuks have sprung from the ground ~ handmade towers of balanced flat rocks. Some are tall, with surprise round elements, some are short with double pillars and hearty cross-slabs. there must be at least fifty of them, created by wanderers, artists and sight-seers who know and love Canada's West Coast.

We solemnly step around the waist-high formations, as if we were touring a cathedral. Mount Kerkeslin towers over us to the east, and is reflected in the pool of water.

We've chosen to stay in this area for the night and step across the road to return to the Athabasca Falls Hostel. It's past 5pm now, and Madeleine should be back to open the cookhouse and put some logs into the stove for some evening warmth. View photos.