A Travellerspoint blog

The Icefields Parkway

Breathtaking Scenery, A VERY Cold Night and WOW!!!!!

(Saturday, July 23rd to Sunday, July 24th)

It did not occur to us as we pulled into our campsite just off The Icefields Parkway the other night that we were actually going to be sleeping in the company of glaciers. If we had thought it through, we would have planned, packed and provisioned very differently. However, because we did not know, we spent a VERY cold night with wakeful, shivery children, ice block feet and freezing cold noses. We awakened in the morning to cold, damp sleeping bags and the temperature in the single digits (probably around 7 degrees Celsius). Simon was the first one up at about 5:45 and I could hear Zachary and Max begging him to build a campfire.

I decided to leave the relative warmth of my bed to assist in the fire building and Simon and I swapped stories of the nights we had endured in our respective tents (I have been bunking with Michael in the little tent and Simon with the other guys in the big tent). With such low temperatures the previous night, the wood was very damp and it took us close to an hour to get the fire roaring. When Zachary came out to the fire he was so cold he was shaking from head to toe. I put him in his heavy raincoat, a vest and my down vest, pulled him into my lap and tried to warm him. He finally warmed up enough that I could leave him to make a cup of tea with the propane stove.

By that time the other two kids were up and were so ridiculously cold we decided we would pack up our camp as fast as we could and head out for breakfast. We broke camp in record time (we are starting to feel like a seasoned MASH unit) and thoroughly enjoyed the heat in our van on the way to breakfast.

The Icefields Parkway is completely uninhabited, no cell coverage and very few services. As luck would have it, we had been camping within about 15 minutes of a rest stop with a hot breakfast. The cafe had delicious hot food...the most delicious Western Omelette I have ever had...and just to make us a little bit happier, they were playing Ray Charles all throughout our meal. The great food and full tummies completely restored family morale and I think the kids were feeling back on board with our crazy family trip (they were ready to jump ship and catch a ride with the nearest RV a few hours earlier!!!)

With their spirits raised we were able to praise and acknowledge the kids for the seriously hard core camping they had done the night before. As much as they appreciated the acknowledgement they all made it abundantly clear they were NOT spending another night in single digit temperatures or we would have a mutiny on our hands!!!! We promised that we would be sleeping in warmer environs that night and made a plan to make it well beyond Jasper (and the glaciers) that night.

As we were pulling away from the breakfast rest stop we had absolutely no idea of the magic that lay ahead of us on The Icefields Parkway. The glaciers were so beautiful and so astounding it was almost hard to believe they were actually real; massive climbs of sheer rock face, huge crusts of ice hanging precariously off ledges far above our heads and the mark of ancient and untamed beauty as far as the eye could see. The word ‘wow’ must have been tossed around the van at least a thousand times as we drank in the magic and the splendour of such untouched beauty and we were speechless. All I can say is that I have never seen anything like the sights we saw that day and the whole experience truly defies adjectives!

We made it to Jasper by mid afternoon, stocked up the cooler and got some lunch. As we pulled out of Jasper, Simon and I were discussing where we wanted to camp that night. After consulting the map, we decided we would drive for another few hours and then look for a campground (as soon as we pulled out of Jasper we lost cell coverage again so any internet research or bookings was impossible- so weird to be without internet access for days). It was Sunday afternoon and our loose plan was to spend two more nights of camping before arriving in Vancouver (to my brother’s house). As we hatched plans in the front seat, Max called out from the depths of the back of the van asking to see the map and our planned route (which, by the way, was the long way or the scenic route to Vancouver).

After consulting the map Max declared that he did not want to go the long route. He proposed that we take the shorter route through Kamloops and arrive in Vancouver the following day. Michael and Zachary gave Max’s plans the four-thumbs-up and we were in danger of being voted off the island (again) if we did not comply. I had been feeling quite attached to the scenic route so it took me a few minutes to adjust. However, after The Icefields Parkway I figured we had done enough out-of-the-way scenery and any drive into Vancouver was going to be stunning anyway. So it was decided that we would camp in a Provincial Park somewhere around Kamloops that night. However, before checking out campsites, I was required by my glacier-shy children to check the predicted night-time low in Kamloops...turns out it was to be a balmy 18 degrees so we proceeded with happy kids and our new Plan A.

As I close this portion of our journey I must share the ‘we’ to which I have been referring during this missive...Simon and I are the ‘we’ in terms of the members of the family who were wowed by The Icefields. For most of the drive all three kids had their heads in books, DVDs, iPods and their Nintendo DS games. Every so often we would call out; “hey guys, check this out, isn’t it beautiful?” We would get a resoundingly lukewarm reply from the assembled throng in the back of the van and go back to our own enjoyment of the scenery. They did enjoy getting out of the van every now and again and madly snapped pictures on their respective cameras.

Simon and I were joking that, when asked how the western drive was, the kids would happily respond; “it was great, I finally rescued Princess Zelda, collected all the golden eggs in Angry Birds and downloaded 43 songs in one go on my iPod.”

Oh well...to each their own!!! Stay tuned for Kamloops to Vancouver...

Katie :)

(Don't forget to check out our pictures by clicking on The Icefields Parkway on our map at the top of the page)

Posted by simonge 11:13 Archived in Canada Tagged travel the family glaciers jasper icefields parkway

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