Glaciers, Elkses,Vistas, and Hot Springs

“Every Winter the glacier grows about 25 meters. By the end of Summer it’s retreated 35 meters. In a few decades there’ll be nothing left but a lake.” So said our tour guide.

Such a loss seems incomprehensible to me. I’m standing on ice that is 50 meters thick. Ice that fell as snow on these mountains before humans ever walked upon this continent. Ice that in some parts of the glacier is 300 meters thick.

Athabasca Glacier - beyond awe inspiring

Athabasca Glacier – beyond awe inspiring

… I’m getting ahead of our adventures though. This is how it began.

As Widdercat reached official ‘ancient-hood’, she needed daily care, (or at least ¾ of the way around the clock care – in spite of all the pictures I’ve posted of her just sleeping) needed her routines intact, needed, us here. Which we unreservedly choose to do. After she died we needed to get away for a while, have a real holiday, the kind where one spends several nights, away from home, doing touristy things.

Mrs Widds wanted to experience the Banff gondola, and I wanted to see a glacier, up close and personal.

We decided we’d camp (not that sort of camp. The sort that has tents and air mattresses and firewood) our way east until we hit the Columbia Valley, then veer north-east until we bumped into Banff. Stopping at any and all hot springs we could find, because the very afternoon we left our island here, I had an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to see how much longer I can keep these battered old knees of mine going. (With a very long needle he withdrew 40cc of synovial fluid from my left knee – there’s only supposed to be 2cc’s in there at any given time – and with another equally long needle, inserted copious quantities of cortisone into it)

Then we hit the road!

Sunrise across the valley

Sunrise across the valley

First campsite – first morning. We woke before dawn and watched the sun crawl down the rocks.

Our first hot spring. The real thing. Rock pools made with rocks, that got progressively cooler as they reached the river. Lussier Hot Springs  in Whiteswan Provincial park.

Lussier Hot Springs - photo by Jim Clark. Pool hot, river cold, very cold!

Lussier Hot Springs – photo by Jim Clark. Pool hot, river cold, very cold!

It got too cold for our ‘3 seasons’ camping gear, and my knees weren’t taking it well, so we repacked the car with all the camping gear at the bottom, booked ahead for a motel, and (via some more hot springs at Radium) carried on to Banff and Mrs Widds gondola trip to the top of a mountain!

Even now I can't believe I walked this path, with two bad knees and a cane!

Even now I can’t believe I walked this path, with two bad knees and a cane!

See that spaceship looking thing in the distance? That’s a kilometer and a total of 1000 stairs, (up and down, both ways) away. I trashed my knees walking it, but the view and the air at 2500 meters above sea level was exhilarating

Thank goodness there was another hot spring back at the base of the mountain!


13 comments on “Glaciers, Elkses,Vistas, and Hot Springs

  1. krisalex333 says:

    Just glad you did not take off in the spaceship – would’a missed your posts too much! 😉


  2. jannatwrites says:

    Wow, what an amazing view! I’m sorry about the knee-trashing, but it looks like it was a worthwhile experience (though it may be hard to remember that when you get your knees fixed!) I’m glad you got to get away… we all need that every once in a while.


  3. Beautiful, Widdershins! Sorry about the knees, but glad to hear you thought it was worth it anyway. 🙂


  4. jmmcdowell says:

    We saw some glaciers up close in Alaska and at Glacier National Park some years back. I’d hate to think they’ll be gone in the not-too-distant future. It looks like you had a great trip, although I hope your knees are feeling better!


    • Widdershins says:

      We did … The removing of the fluid build-up and insertion of cortisone really helped. I wouldn’t’ve been able to do half the things we did without it.


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