FALL IN THE ROCKIES

I love the Canadian Rockies.

It’s September now and you just never know what the weather will be in the mountains. While in Banff National Park, the overnight forecast was for rain with snow over 2,100 metres. We woke up surrounded by freshly snow-capped mountains.

We drove north along the Icefields Parkway, the famous link between Lake Louise and the town of Jasper in Jasper National Park. The scenery was spectacular, like a pageant put on just for us. The fresh snow brightened the glaciers and highlighted the rocky ledges and contours of the peaks above tree line. In some places, even the evergreens were dusted with snow.

The sun played hide and seek behind swirling clouds. One minute the peaks were dazzling white, the next the landscape took on a muted wintry glow.

We stopped along the Parkway to hike Parker Ridge. The trail takes you to a view of the Saskatchewan Glacier and the fledgling North Saskatchewan River that eventually flows into Hudson Bay 1,287km away. It’s rated as an easy trail. At 5.1km return it’s a comfortable distance with an elevation gain of 250 metres.

We had run into intermittent snow and blizzard-like conditions approaching the trailhead. It was snowing while we had lunch there.

We optimistically headed out hoping that since the weather was changing so rapidly we would have clear skies by the time we reached the top of the ridge. It snowed the whole time we climbed the slope. The higher we got, the heavier the snow and the stronger the wind.

At the top, there was no view of the glacier, only a panorama of clouds and blowing snow with a hint of a river in the valley below. Glaciers create their own weather patterns. Locals would probably have told us that the glacier would be invisible today.

Regardless, we enjoyed our hike and the wonder of unexpected winter weather. And we delighted in our drive along the Parkway.

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