The Athabasca Glacier

When Adam and I travelled to Canada we visited the Columbian Icefield Centre along the Icefield Parkway. We were travelling from Banff to Jasper and identified this as a good place to stop for a rest and a cool experience. Our trip to Canada is the only time I’ve needed to pack both my bikini and my hat, scarf and gloves!

The Columbian Icefield is the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies and spans 25km across the continental divide. The average elevation of the columbian icefields is 3,000 metres and the highest point is Mt Columbia. We visited the Athabasca Glacier, one of the most accessible areas, and it was epic.

I booked our Iconic Glacier Adventure tickets in advance online to benefit from a 20% discount (must be booked at least 48 hours in advance). We booked a combination deal which included the Glacier Skywalk (I’ll write about this in another blog soon) and proved cheaper than booking both experiences separately.

Unfortunately, on the morning we were due to visit the centre it was snowing hard and visibility was extremely poor. Looking up at the glacier it wasn’t clear where the snow met the sky and it was a proper white out!

We were a bit disappointed and worried that we were going to have a below average experience. However, after speaking to staff we found out we could change the date of our trip without any additional cost – yey! It turns out you can just turn up on the day and get tickets but then you wouldn’t benefit from the discount.

A couple of days later we returned to the centre amongst glorious sunshine and clear(ish) blue skies. After a short wait we boarded one of the ice explorer buses, one of only 20ish in the world costing millions of dollars each. These buses had huge great big tyres on them and windows on either side providing epic views all around.

P1150416.JPG

We enjoyed a slow and steep ascent along the moraine with some funny narration by our driver and eventually arrived on top of the Athabasca Glacier. We were also told some cool facts such as;

  • once, the Athabasca glacier flowed as far north as the town of Jasper
  • the Columbian icefields feed three oceans in the northern hemisphere; the Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic which makes it unique
  • the glacier is as thick as the Eiffel tower is high…. whaaat????

When we reached the top of the glacier it was vast and the snow was shimmering in the sunlight, we didn’t see much ice due to the heavy snowfall days before.

P1150398.JPG

Adam spotted climbers at the top of a peak – it didn’t matter how hard I looked I just couldn’t see them!

P1150383.JPG

P1150382

P1150381

Thank goodness for camera zoom!

We had some time wandering on the glacier (in the safely marked zones of course) and then the guides dug a hole through the snow and ice so we could collect some glacial water to drink – ice cold!

P1150413

P1150412

A walk on the Athabasca Glacier is a tourist trip for sure and its not cheap but I think its worth it 🙂

Not a monkey after all

This day last year I shattered by elbow.

It was my friend’s hen do and the first activity I’d organised for the day was a trampoline park and ninja assault course. We said to each other we’d be sensible on the trampolines because we didn’t want anyone to have any injuries.

However, disaster struck on the ninja assault course.

We were just about to finish and leave when I fancied one more go on the monkey bars and fell. The fall was approximately 10 feet high onto a crash mat but this clearly didn’t break my fall. As soon as I landed I knew I had done something serious.

After three hours at A&E, a scan and some pain killers I was told that I had shattered by elbow in multiple places and would need an operation.

As maid of honour this wasn’t an option so I requested plaster and morphine for now and would have the operation in a couple of days. I was back at the hen do for afternoon tea at 3pm and we carried on to the meal and drinks that night.

Adrenaline and morphine kept me going until 2am

but wow did I pay for it the next day!

The morphine had gone out of my system and I had no other painkillers. Anyway I made it home and had my operation eight days later with the surgeon telling me my bone was mush!

For three months I was unable to drive, I couldn’t open a water bottle, couldn’t tie up my hair, couldn’t lock my front door – it was so frustrating!

My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t be able to do some of the activities that Adam and I love to do like canoeing, kayaking, climbing, hiking and skiing.

A year on, its been a long journey, my arm still doesn’t fully bend, my wrist doesn’t fully rotate (and probably never will). BUT I’ve been going to the gym to build up my strength and I’ve definitely seen improvements.

The exciting moment for me came at the beginning of June this year on a hen do in Bath. One of the activities was rowing and not many people were confident. I know how to row but didn’t know if my arm would be strong enough.

I volunteered anyway and yey, all was fine!!! I don’t think I could do it for a long period of time but it was good enough for a relaxing boat trip.

Later that month I got another chance to test myself and spent some time paddling a canoe. All was good and I was excited to still be able to do the activities we both enjoy so much 🙂

Although my work has been affected by my injuries, it looks hopeful that my activities and adventures with Adam won’t be. The next test will be climbing and a trip to Norway is on the cards 😍

P.S. one thing I learned from this incident is that Adam can do excellent hair braids – a benefit from all that basket weaving and cordage making!

The Ravens

The best things in life really are free aren’t they! I think I’ve started to realise that more and more lately.

We were lucky enough to go for a road trip through the Rockies last month and it was beyond our expectations. The mountains were bigger that we could have ever imagined and the vastness of the space was almost overwhelming at times.

Unfortunately, with life the way it is right now we are having to cram our adventures into long weekends or a couple of weeks maximum. As a result, things can seem too scheduled as we want to get from one place to the next. I also wanted us to experience as much of the rockies as we could so we booked into activities and visited everywhere we could squeeze in.

As you’d expect, this was all great fun but quite expensive. Despite all our activities one of my favourite moments of the whole trip came from a chance encounter with a couple of ravens.

We were driving from Sunwapta Falls an hour south along the icefields parkway to the Colombian Icefield Center with the intention of going up onto the Athabasca Glacier (it’s worth noting that they let you reschedule if the visibility is poor or you can’t make it).

Around 20mins into the drive our wet rainy start turned into thick snow (in June – gotta love the Rockies!) and a blanket of white appeared all around us. It literally felt like Christmas!!!

It was so picturesque that we pulled over to take some photos and as we got back in the car, it happened. These beautiful big ravens came and sat on a railing less than a metre from me. They had snowflakes on their faces and a keen look in their eyes – they clearly didn’t mind us being there. I got one of my favourite photographs ever and was so excited about seeing them!

It was a truly memorable moment for both of us and when I think of Canada, it’s the picture that immediately comes to mind. That great experience with the ravens cost us nothing, absolutely nothing. A lesson for me I think….

Canoodling at Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake…. it sounds stunning doesn’t it? I hadn’t even heard of it when I first started researching our trip to Canada. I’d heard of Banff and Jasper National Parks and of course I’d heard of the famous Lake Louise but I hadn’t heard of Emerald Lake.

Read More