Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Day 5 in Canada: I'm on a glacier!!!

This morning, we got up early and walked around Jasper for a bit. It was crisp and cold, the skies were a bright blue and I couldn't stop gawking at the Rockies. Jasper is really a very small resort town, I found it absolutely charming myself.

We grabbed a quick breakfast at Subway's. A sub at Subway's is our standard fare during our travels. They're much cheaper than a full meal at a restaurant, they're quite nutritious and they can be very filling.
During this trip, I was introduced to a Canadian institution - Tim Hortons. It's a Canadian chain which started out by selling donuts and coffee to the morning crowd. Started by an ex-NHL player, the chain grew and grew and now it offers a lovely soup and bagel breakfast as well. I suppose it is to Canucks what mamak stalls are to us Malaysians. There is a Timmie in every town and village and I loved our meals there. I told Dear Hubby that if I should moan "Tim.... Tim..." in my sleep from now on, he shouldn't get too worked up because I'm just lusting for the donuts.

After breakfast, we hopped back into our car. Destination Cochrane, Alberta. But before that... the glacier! We drove down south on the Icefields Parkway. Yes, it's as cold as the name sounds. But did I care? No! I'd been checking out brochures before we left and was pretty disappointed to find out that it would cost something like C$95 for a ride out onto the glacier in a erm... I dunno what you call it.. snow explorer truck? Oh well, the website calls it a Snocoach. Wow. That's pretty expensive.

But Dear Hubby obviously knew other ways of getting out onto the glacier. We drove up to this bit where you could actually walk up to the foot of the glacier! Awesome or what! I was out of the car the moment we parked, all excited and ready to go. It didn't matter that I was dead close to freezing my fingers off. I pulled my toque tighter on my head, zipped up my jacket and took Dear Hubby's hand as we headed up the gentle hill before the glacier.

The walk was mostly up gravel and rock. There were streams everywhere and I dipped my fingers into one. Brrr... cold! No wonder, it was water from the melting glacier. Some bits of the trail were snow and me, being a tropical baby, had no idea that snow can just give way under your weight. I sank up to my calves in snow in some bits and I thought, Hmm... just like ais kacang!

I had to take a wee break to catch my breath. Hey, if you had to lug a 19-week-old baby in your belly up that hill, you'd take a break too! The trail has markers that show where the glacier used to be in previous years, going back to the 1800's. It's quite scary to see how much the glacier had retreated and if that wasn't a lesson for global warming, I don't know what else is.

When we finally got to the foot of the glacier, there was a rope there with a sign that said DO NOT CROSS. Well, I hadn't flown 18hours and hiked up that hill and froze to death just to be stopped by some rope and sign, so I followed Dear Hubby and ducked under the rope. I don't even know why the rope is there because everyone else was doing the same.

And there I am - I'm standing on a glacier!!! Woohoo!!! If I were a lad, I'm sure I would have written my name in pee on the snow. :)) We saw others hike further up the glacier but I didn't want to risk the trip, not with our Little One dependent on me to keep him safe. So we just stayed at the foot and took pictures of us on the ice.

The walk downhill from the glacier was a great deal easier and slower. I'd been so eager to get on the glacier I must have really zoomed up the hill. When we got back to our car, I looked back at the glacier and I couldn't believe that we'd gone that far. I'm so stoked I got to stand on a glacier. You don't think that it's possible, right.. glaciers are supposed to be high up and cold and one just doesn't go, "Hey, you wanna hike up to a glacier?" Well, in Columbia Icefield Parkway, you can do just that. All you need is a car to get you there, money to pay for the park access ticket and your legs.

I was on a high for the rest of the way. We would be driving past Banff to stay with friends in Cochrane for the night. The plan was to come back to visit Banff the next day. One more night in Cochrane and we would point our car westwards again and head back to Vancouver. We're almost halfway through the holiday and I'm having the greatest time of my life.

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