Day 7: An Icefields Parkway Morning

When I went to bed at the Bow Lake viewpoint on the Icefields Parkway Wednesday night, I had a comfortable feeling that I was almost home. Only another 1,400 miles to go.

A few minutes after 05:00, I went for a bit of a wander to get the blood flowing.
Dawn at Bow Lake, Icefields Parkway, Alberta
What an amazing place to start the day. And I had it all to myself – there was no sound except distant waterfalls.
Dawn at Bow Lake, Icefields Parkway, Alberta
The huge expanse of glass on the front of the motorhome gathered a heavy load of bugs that had to be washed off before the sun same up.
Washing the motorhome window along the Icefields Parkway, Alberta
The view north from Bow Summit at 05:51. I pulled off on the shoulder of the road there for a couple of minutes to soak in it.
Bow Summit, Icefields Parkway, Alberta
I found myself stopping often as the rising sun hit the peaks and glaciers around me. It’s amazing that some of the hanging glaciers stick to those cliffs.
Hanging glacier along the Icefields Parkway, Alberta
Icefields Parkway, Alberta
I stopped at the North Saskatchewan River crossing to get photos looking upriver into the rising run…
Icefields Parkway, Alberta
..and downriver.
Icefields Parkway, Alberta
Icefields Parkway, Alberta

I reached Saskatchewan Crossing Lodge at 6:30, making it a good choice for breakfast. A very basic buffet was $18.50, but it provided the fuel I needed for what I knew would be a long day.

Mt. Saskatchewan. To the right is a spire known as Cleopatra’s Needle, or Lighthouse Tower (marked by the arrow at the top).
Icefields Parkway, Alberta
Parker Ridge.
Icefields Parkway, Alberta
Reaching the Columbia Icefield just after 08:00, I decided to go for a walk up the short trail to the Athabasca Glacier (one of the 6 main glaciers that flow from the icefield) – the trail can be seen at the lower left of the next photo. If I’d ever been on that trail before, it had been decades ago.
Columbia Icefield, Alberta
It’s quite remarkable how far the glacier has retreated over the past 90-odd years. This sign notes the position of the glacier’s face in 1992 – it’s several hundred feet from the current position.
Columbia Icefield, Alberta
There are many signs warning of the danger of going beyond the roped-off area. This one tells the particularly sad story of a 9-year-old boy who went only a few meters beyond on July 4, 2001. He plunged into a deep, hidden crevasse, and died of hypothermia before rescuers could reach him. Strangely, I can find nothing online about this tragedy, using several search parameters. [Edit: one of my readers did find it – the very short report on the death of Naofumi Fukushima, a visitor from Japan, can be read here.]
Death on the Columbia Icefield, Alberta
These people were taking measurements of something.
Researchers at the Columbia Icefield, Alberta
Only a dozen years ago, the glacier was still gouging its way across this granite.
Columbia Icefield, Alberta
When I got back to the parking lot at 08:40, it was starting to get quite busy, and many people were gearing up at this car for an Ice Walk.
Ice Walk at the Columbia Icefield, Alberta
As the highway got busier and wildfire smoke limited visibility more and more, I quit making photo stops. There seemed to be almost as many motorcycles on the highway as there were any other type of vehicle.
Motorcycles on the Icefields Parkway, Alberta
I’d be seeing my son and his family in a couple of weeks, so didn’t even stop in to see them. Right at 11:00, I crossed the Athabaska River on Highway 40 north of Hinton.
Athabaska River on Highway 40 north of Hinton, Alberta
It’s possible to get stuck behind some heavy/slow loads on Highway 40…
Alberta Hwy 40
…but more and more multi-lane sections are being built to minimize those delays.
Alberta Highway 40
I powered through to Dawson Creek, only stopping for a final load of cheap Alberta gasoline at Beaverlodge. At 5:30, my first Dawson Creek stop was at Stuie’s Diner for dinner, then the obligatory “Mile 0” photo – the start of the road I live on, with only 900 miles to go. As you can see, the wildfire smoke had gotten very thick – it was eye-and-throat-burning strong.
My new motorhome at Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway
The wildfire smoke thinned rapidly after Fort St.John, but there was still enough to produce a dramatic evening sun at 8:17, just before it dropped into a layer of clouds.
Sunset on the Alaska Highway
Just before 10:00 pm, I parked at a truck brake check at the top of the long, steep hill south of the Sikanni Chief River. It’s not a great spot to camp, but I expected that this would be a fairly short sleep, and the truck noise doesn’t bother me.
Trucks at a brake check stop along the Alaska Highway


Day 7: An Icefields Parkway Morning — 3 Comments

  1. Oh I was absolutely swooning over these pictures of the Icefields drive! This is one of my favorite drives and yes, soaking it all in is the best way to do that drive!! That is such a nice size RV you and Cathy got! If you guys ever want to sell, let me know, I may have to buy it off you! (A one way flight to Whitehorse followed by the drive back sounds like a good plan to me!)

  2. Buying a motorhome far away from where you live does have advantages. I had a 15-day guarantee on the rig, and I think it’s safe to say that I gave it a good workout to confirm that it’s solid 🙂