July 2017 – We checked out of our room at Sunwapta and headed south to the Icefield Centre. Across the street and up a drive is the parking lot for the
Athabasca Glacier. I had dressed in layers – a tshirt, a base layer, a jacket, hiking pants, gloves, an earwarmer, and my hiking boots. I was given the ok (some people were given gloves or wind-resistant pants) and a pair of crampons to take with me. I signed a waiver about the dangers of being on the ice, and we were told to gather in a group for a safety briefing. We were at the base of the steep incline we had walked up a couple of days before. The guides were very kind in breaking up the walk into halves, giving us details and history about the glacier while we caught our breath along the way up.
Once we were at the base of the glacier, we were instructed to put on the
crampons. This was our first experience with these, and they were amazing. I felt so much more secure withthem on (unlike our New Hampshire experience with ice/snow). The glacier walk lasted a total of three hours, with at least two hours being on the ice. We hiked up to a great view point of the ice fall and then back down. The guide was amazing and very knowledgeable about glaciers. He had worked on several
glaciers, including one in Iceland. Safety was a priority, and he was great at making sure everyone felt secure and went at a comfortable pace. This was a once in a lifetime (maybe more than once, but definitely recommend at least once!) experience, and I recommend it to anyone in the area. This was the first time I had ever seen a glacier, and unfortunately they are fading quickly.
After the glacier walk, we went across the street and ate some dried-out, overpriced food at the Icefields Centre. We then continued south and made a few stops along the way at viewpoints or to see wildlife. A couple of hours later, we arrived at the Lake Louise area junction and decided to head west for awhile.
We entered Yoho National Park and took the winding road up to the Takakkaw Falls. The falls were beautiful but crowded.
Next we visited Emerald Lake. The lake was gorgeous and had nice scenic walking path, but it was crowded as well. We got back in the car and quickly went through the town of Field (looking for a restaurant and some wine butcouldn’t find any). We headed back east and ate dinner at an American/Chinese combo restaurant. It was pretty good and decently priced. Nearby was a liquor store that sold every kind of wine we could want.
We then checked into our amazing cabin at Paradise Lodge & Bungalows. We apparently barely made the check-in time, but the cabins were well-equipped with everything we could need and had modern amenities (walk in shower, flat screen tv, etc).