Tuesday, September 23, 2014

More Canada Fun

As I sit here in our family cabin in the Uinta Mountains of UT, I'm looking out the window at aspen trees that are turning various shades of yellow, orange, gold and red.  It is magical.  I feel supremely blessed to be here at this time of year, and to have the time to really enjoy the mountains.  I'm disappointed though; no one has sent me suggested superlatives.  Come on, I need the help!

So, more about Canada.  After our long hike to Plain of the Seven Glaciers, we took the next day off and drove to some incredible sights.  Canyons carved from limestone by small, powerful rivers, glacial lakes, glaciers hanging from the most unlikely places in the tops of mountains...it was all wonderful.  Go to Banff...you won't be disappointed.

Then we decided to spend saturday hiking the Iceline trail.  It is in a canyon with one of the highest waterfalls around, Takakkaw Falls.  Its only about 800 feet tall!  That's it behind Sue.  We got a really early start on our hike and it was cold.

But, the very steep climb up through the forest to tree line warmed us up nicely, and we found ourselves on a lovely traversing trail that went up and over several lateral glacier moraines.  Lateral moraine are the piles of rock that glaciers push to the side as they advance.  After the glacier retreats (global warming, you know) the rock piles are left behind for us to hike over.  It was wonderful to be above treelike and enjoy the sunny day and spectacular vistas in all directions.

Glaciers melt, and make the most wonderful cascades and streams, like this one, that allow hot hikers to soak their head to get refreshed.  As is my custom, I soaked mine in this little stream. (that's the glacier up behind).

We came to one spot where people had set up a bunch of rock cairns.  I rebuilt one that was falling down. (yep, that's another glacier up behind!)

Sue was happy, because Sue is most happy above tree line!

At one spot along the trail we saw this little peak that stood out a the edge of the canyon.  The top was only about 2.5 square feet, and it felt like being on top of the world.  That's Sue below showing off her hiking poles.

Our plan had been to do a loop hike, with this tree line part giving way to a walk down through the woods and along a river back to where we started.  But we were having such a great time up high, that we decided to turn around and come back the way we came up, just to spend more time in that rugged, high landscape.  The views were astounding!  Sitting and having lunch at the high spot, I counted 8 different glaciers we could see, in only 180 degrees of looking!  We met nice people along the way from Germany, Calgary, BC and I forget where else.

On the way down we picked and ate huckleberries (sorry bears!) along the way.  When we got to the bottom we did the proper tourist thing and went to the bottom of the falls for a picture. (who is that handsome retiree?)

Here's a magical thing...what the tourists at the base of the falls could not see, but what we saw from our high vantage point on the hike, was that the sun was making rainbows off of the spray of the falls! The colors would move and change...you have to see it to believe it!  

Standing at the base of the falls we took a picture of where we had been.  We were walking along the bottom of the white spot (a glacier) in the middle distance.

This for me was a trip highlight.  The trail at the feet of the glaciers, the panoramic views in all directions (Takakkaw falls is fed by a huge glacial ice field), the beautiful sunny day, and being above  the tree line were all terrific.  It was a long day, and it is great to spend an entire day in such a beautiful place.


  1. Love your blog, Mark! Great pictures (or should I credit Sue?)!

  2. Splendiferous, beauteous, bewitching, majestic, stupefying, breathtaking, statuesque, resplendent, ravishing, pulchritudinous, stupendous, monumental, colossal, immeasurable, prodigious, unparalleled, unthinkable, spine-tingling, awe-inspiring, tremendous, phenomenal, tremendous, and cool. (: