I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Views at the glacier

Athabasca Glacier

Our tour group had a hike from the bottom of the glacier, but I wasn't feeling great that day and opted to take a coach up to the top of the glacier instead. This was its own adventure, going up steep grades and down even steeper ones, and then directly on to the ice.

Columbia Icefield

This is the largest icefield in the Rockies, more than 125 square miles. It straddles the Continental Divide and both Banff and Jasper National Parks, but because of the mountains surrounding it, it's not really visible except from an airplane.

What you can see are its “toes,” the glaciers that spill out between the mountains. The glaciers here are seen from the Icefields Interpretive Centre, across the highway from the most visited of the toes, the Athabasca Glacier.

More pine beetle damage

An otherwise idyllic picture from Pyramid Lake in Jasper.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Postcard shot

I'll probably resume Rockies blogging tomorrow when I'm less grumpy, but here's a lovely mountain, seen from the Icefields Parkway, in the meantime.

Those reddish trees in the foreground add a nice color contrast, but unfortunately they're brown because they're dead. Even in the Canadian Rockies, winters are no longer cold enough to keep the pine beetles in check.

Astronomy Tuesday

Here's a rather minimalist image of Neptune and its moon Triton, as seen by Voyager in 1989

I'm recuperating from gum surgery yesterday. It had been many years since I'd had Novocaine and I'd forgotten how unpleasant it is attempting to rinse when your mouth is for some reason on the other side of the solar system and the comm links aren't responding. The cab driver who brought me home afterwards quite understandably heard my attempt at “43rd and Tenth” -- or Or Er An Nt as they say on Neptune -- as “Second Avenue” and headed East instead of West.

But I made it home eventually, and so did my mouth, although it appears to have brought Neptune with it -- at least something of approximately that size is now living in my left cheek.

Image credit: NASA Planetary Data System

Sunday, July 28, 2019

And the end of the canyon

And still more Maligne Canyon

Still more Maligne Canyon

More Maligne Canyon

Maligne Canyon

This was one of my favorite places.

Maligne is a slot canyon, up to 160 feet deep, and at some points only a few feet wide. There are a series of bridges over the water and the views are dramatic.

Sunday bird blogging

Apologies, again, for the quality. This nest was way down one of the steep walls at Maligne Canyon in Jasper, and I wasn't carrying a long lens with me. But you can see the beaks of the two young ravens lounging inside and I can never resist babies.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

There are always some people who are apparently immune to the cold

It wasn't exactly Arctic on top of the mountain, but it was at least 25 degrees colder than it was down in the valley and very windy. Hats and gloves were not out of the question; there wasn't enough hot chocolate in the world to make me stroll around in shorts and flip-flops.

Wildflowers and lichens

Some of the life that manages to flourish at the high altitudes.

Top of the mountain

I only went part of the way up the trail behind the tram station, because we didn't have much time and also because it was extremely windy and I preferred to spend the last ten minutes of our visit inside drinking hot chocolate.

The tram

Looking back from the top of the mountain.

It was only a ten minute ride, but this picture gives a sense of how high up the tram brought us, way above the tree line.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Two more views

You can see a freight train in the valley in the picture on the left.


Another view from Whistlers Mountain, looking down at the town of Jasper. Our lodge was on the lake to the right of the town.

Continental Divide

This is the view from the top of Whistlers Mountain, looking towards the Alberta-British Columbia border. The mountains are called the Victoria Cross ranges (all named after recipients of the Victoria Cross) and form part of the Continental Divide.

We took a tram up the mountain; trams are not my favorite thing but the views were definitely worth a little acrophobia.

Blondes have more fun

This is the only grizzly we saw, in Banff, and we never got an unobstructed look at it.

Fortunately that coloring made it very easy to follow.


None of my animal pictures are very good, because I was always taking them from a bus or a train -- and, as in the case of these bears, often with a crowd of idiots in the way.

But these two are probably the best -- two bear cubs and an elk, in Jasper National Park.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Still more cool cool water

Might as well finish the set. This is Moraine Lake, in Banff National Park, and stones in Lake Beauvert in Jasper.

More cool cool water

I was going to save this one for Saturday reflections, but I love it too much to wait. Another picture of Lake Beauvert, with reflections over the stony bottom.

Cool cool water

I was endlessly fascinated by the amazing clarity of the lake water. Sometimes I thought I could see every single stone all the way to the farther shore.

Here's a tree submerged in Lake Beauvert in a light rain.

Urban poetry

Leaving Vancouver on the Rocky Mountaineer.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Glacial green

One more view from the Rocky Mountaineer -- a preview of coming attractions glimpsed through the trees.

The beautiful emeralds and teals of mountain lakes is caused by rock flour, or glacial flour. I got to dip my finger in a sample; it's a very fine powder the consistency of baking flour or talcum and though it's a dull muddy gray in color, when the particles are suspended in water and the light reflects off them you get these amazing colors.


It's almost impossible to get decent pictures from a moving vehicle, but I'm glad this one came out -- a forest starting to recover from fire damage.

Fires are part of the normal cycle of a forest's life, devastating as they are. There's so much about our natural world that's being harmed by climate change, and so much of it beyond our power to fix, that it's reassuring when you see rebirth like this, as though Mother Nature is saying, I got this.

Into the Rockies

Two waterfalls

In two very different landscapes.

The photo of the unnamed waterfall on the left was taken the first day on the Rocky Mountaineer, in the sere desert mountains. And on the right is another picture of Pyramid Falls. Everyone on the train, and the Rocky Mountaineer website, called it that but when I first looked it up online, I found an entry in Wikipedia for Pyramid Creek Falls, which seems to be the same waterfall -- difficult to see except from the train tracks, and trains slow down so their passengers can get a good look at it. As ours did.

Whatever it's called, it's beautiful.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019


Some of the bighorn sheep we saw outside of Kamloops.

The Thompson River

The Thompson River was clear and blue, running through brown desert mountains.

Following two rivers

The route from Vancouver to Kamloops follows two rivers, the Fraser and the Thompson. This is the Fraser, sludgy with silt and reminding me of a Frappuccino.

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