September 11th 1981

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 1
Lake Peyto

That was a big mistake, because it was a cold, cold night.  Val didn’t sleep because of the cold, and I didn’t sleep because I was so uncomfortable, so all in all it was pretty miserable.  Eventually, at about 5, we gave up + crawled into the car, but in the move we lost what heat we’d managed to acquire, so it was pretty useless (tho’ I did manage about an hour’s sleep.)  Up early + away, fortunately without being asked to pay.  Stopped off at the Columbia Icefield Centre, which had splendid bathrooms, with hot + cold water.  Then we drove to the Athabasca Glacier, only a few hundred yards away, + there you could walk right up to the ice-face – it was dirty + pretty uninteresting.  We scrambled up the side a little, but it soon became too steep for us, so we got back in the car, + drove to another spot, less than a mile, from which one could either take snowmobile tours onto the glacier itself (these were really just big buses fitted with caterpillar tracks – very boring) or take a steep trail to get a good view of the glacier + the nearby mountains.  We tried the latter, tho’ only for a short way – it was very steep + very windy.  We drove on, stopping off to buy some postcards. And then at the trailhead to Peyto Lake – we’d bought some pc’s of it, so decided to visit.  The trail was only 1 and a quarter miles, but unfortunately we missed a turn-off along it, and found ourselves going down a boring old road.  It was only when we gave up  + turned back that we spotted the real trail, which was silly of us – it was clearly marked.  That trail was very pleasant, + the lake did turn out to be beautiful, so it was worth it in the end.

Arrived back at the car weak + hungry, so the first stop was lunch, then drove on a bit further where we saw another turn-off for Lake Peyto.  Drove up there, after messing our directions up again, found the viewpoint that the pc’s had been taken from.  Had planned to visit Lake Louise, but it looked too commercial, so headed straight out.  Picked up 2 guys, friendly, + we offered to take them to final destination if they’d share gas.  They agreed, so we drove to Kelowna – about 260 miles.  Headed out of town + found good place to park.

“To lose your way once may be regarded as unfortunate; twice looks like carelessness” to misquote Lady Bracknell.  We really did have the gift, or curse I suppose, of managing to lose our way wherever we were.  Which makes Val’s future achievement all the more remarkable. Of which more at a later date.

But I can’t ignore the date. giving a double perspective on one of the most infamous dates in history, then twenty years before, now twenty years on.  The world is a different place now, doubly so when looking back forty years, and while some things – crisis in the Middle East, most notably – there are other challenges too, not least the threat to our climate.  Twenty years on?  We shall see.

  1. Pamela J Blair

    In 2012 I rode up to the Athabasca Glacier in one of those boring buses with tractor tires. I’m sure the glacier is smaller now than when either of us saw it. Yes, Banff (Lake Louise) was commercial, but a beautiful lake. I wonder if you stopped at Moraine Lake near Jasper. My favorite. I loved the snow and glacier-covered Canadian Rockies. We have a Glacier National Park in the US (Montana?) and they should probably rename it because the glaciers are receding at an alarming rate.

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