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Yellowstone National Park

posted Sep 8, 2012, 7:39 PM by Michael Schwarz   [ updated Jul 10, 2016, 2:02 AM ]

Back in the USA after a fabulous summer in Alaska and Canada. We are missing our wildlife and beautiful scenery so we decided to make a quick stop at Yellowstone National Park.  We entered through the North entrance at Gardiner, MT at the North entrance. We did a whirlwind 2 night 1 day tour (not enough time).

Our first sight inside the park was a herd of goats.  You can't tell from the picture but they were standing on a cliff face.  You wonder why they don't topple off.

We stopped at the North Entrance Visitor Center.  This is the administrative center for the park and they have a Justice Center, Post Office, hotels, shops and restaurants.

Just up the hill is the Mammoth Hot Springs section of the park.  You feel like you have entered a land on another planet.  Smoking pools and colored landscape from thermophiles living in the different temperature pools.

Walkways wind in and around the different hot springs

The different colors show thermophiles in different temperature water.

Yes, that is boiling water bubbling up from holes in the ground.

Our next sighting. Buffaloes on the side of the road.

In the car and down south next stop is Upper Geyser section. A vast expanse of smoking bubbling geysers.

Signs all over the place warning of scalding water. People have died from falling in!!! Yikes. The smell of sulphur floats in the hot steamy air

Back in the car and head to Old Faithful.  It erupts every 44 - 120 minutes.  We were lucky and arrived 15 minutes before it went off.

1st it starts to smoke and rumble and spit. Then.....

Thar she blows!

Each eruption lasts 2-5 minutes

There is a walking path behind Old Faithful with lots of weird formations to look at.  We got to see Old Faithful a second time as we were taking our walk.

Some geysers erupt frequently and some not so much. This 1 spit a little while we watched.

If you click on some of these pictures to make them bigger you see more detail. They look like wormholes filled with bubbling water.

The colors are very intense

These next 2 pictures are my favorite. These holes are full of boiling water.

Back in the car we head west and start back north for the next stop.

Time to head back to the campsite. More buffaloes

Yellowstone - We'll be back.

Hasta La Vista Baby . . . Servicia awaits!

Lake Louise

posted Sep 7, 2012, 6:11 PM by Michael Schwarz   [ updated Jul 10, 2016, 2:02 AM ]

Our last stop on our Alaska/Canada trip was Lake Louise in the Banff National Park  area.  I think that we were a bit surprised at the number of people that were there, especially after the solitude of Alaska.  The 1st day there we drove up to the Lake and couldn't get near the parking lot. We went back the next morning around 9:00 for a hike.  Much better.  We started out on our 9 1/2 mile hike (round trip) to the Plain of the Six Glaciers Tea house.  Of course like all of our hikes it was to the top of the mountain.

Chateau Lake Louise- about a mile down the trail

Chateau about 3 miles up the trail

A Pika.  He is gathering food for the winter. They nest under big rocks near a grass source.

Chateau about 4 miles up the trail. Hazy out. You can't tell but the water is really blue.

Ah, the Tea House. We ate the lunch we had packed but we had dessert and coffee there.  The only way here is up the trail we just hiked. The supplies are hiked in with the staff and some on horseback.  No water or electricity. The staff stay up on the mountain for a 5 day shift and then hike back down.

View of the Tea House another 1 and a half miles down the trail. Might as well go an extra mile and see the glaciers up close. What's another couple of miles!!

There's the glacier.  We could hear thunder like rumbles while we were hiking. Turns out it was pieces of the glacier falling off the edge of the mountain.  We heard it several times but didn't get to see it actually fall.

See the big crack?

Back from the hike this is the view of the lake and the Glacier standing in front of the Chateau.  Should have taken the picture this morning because it was cloudy and hazy by the time we got back.  The picture does not do it justice.

Cocktails await...

Reflections and a Bear

posted Sep 3, 2012, 3:05 PM by Michael Schwarz   [ updated Jul 10, 2016, 2:03 AM ]

I've decided to name the remainder of our trip south on the Icefield Parkway Reflections. It was a sunny clear day and not a bit of wind.  As we passed the many lakes the reflections of the vistas in the water doubled the incredible views.

Again I recommend clicking on each picture so it becomes a full screen view.

As we were driving down this hill and admiring the beautiful view (glacier, rugged mountains and evergreen trees) I commented that the only thing that was missing was an alpine lake at the base of the mountain. The closer we got we realized that there was indeed a lake at the bottom and we seeing the reflection of the mountain and trees!

What a great place for a lodge.  No shortage of scenery here.

Lake Morraine. Morraine is the crushed rock debris that is left from the passing of a glacier.  See the pile on the other side of the lake?

The view of the lake is a lot prettier around the bend.  The sun came out and the water turned the trademark blue of a glacier fed lake.

Columbia Ice Field Helicopter Ride

posted Sep 2, 2012, 6:58 PM by Michael Schwarz   [ updated Jul 10, 2016, 2:04 AM ]

The Columbia Icefield is so big that when we saw an ad to tour it by helicopter we decided to go for it.  Neither of us had been in a helicopter before so that made the adventure even better.  We would be flying at 12,500 feet looking down at peaks that are 11 and 12,000 feet, the miles of icefield and the many glaciers it feeds. Can't wait.

Here's our ride

Off we go! The ride was surprisingly smooth (and noisy).
There's our co-pilot


Alpine lake and waterfall

Glacier (lots of them)

We were flying along and suddenly the earth seemed to open under our feet. We come out over a cliff that dropped 4,000 feet to the road below. Yowser!!

The Icefield Parkway

See the moon?

And the sun shining

Mountains as far as the eye can see in every direction.

Look at that alpine lake and the reflection of the mountain. Awesome

I didn't get the camera out fast enough but a big hunk of glacier fell off and down the mountain

Look at that "U". And then we flew thru it. Plenty of room. It's a lot bigger across than you think.

Time to go back.

Ahhhhhh . . . Cocktails await.

Tooling Around the Icefields Parkway

posted Sep 1, 2012, 2:29 PM by Michael Schwarz   [ updated Jul 10, 2016, 2:05 AM ]

From Jasper we headed south down the Icefields Parkway. An icefield is what feeds glaciers. The Columbia Icefield is what you see on this route.  It feeds 8 glaciers, is the size of Manhattan, and is a triple continental divide feeding 3 oceans- the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific.  It is the only icefield in the world that can make that claim.   We thought that after all the magnificent scenery we had already seen on this trip that this last 100 miles wouldn't be able to compete.  Boy were we wrong!

** I recommend clicking on each picture to view it full screen!!!!

Happy to see that the wildlife was still showing itself in this more popular well traveled route.

The more curly the horns the older the sheep.

The 1st awesome sight that took our breath away was the Athabasca Glacier. We booked a glacier tour on a big bus built specifically for going on glaciers called an Ice Explorer.  These buses are huge. If you look closely there is a black dot almost dead center of this picture - that is one of these buses. The glacier is giant. At the bottom of the picture right where the white ice ends and the dirty ice begins you can see some tiny dots. They are people.

You could also sign up for a glacier walk.  See the line of people?

Here's a picture of the top part of the glacier taken from the spot the bus stopped and let us out.

Don't miss the bus. It's a long walk back.

This was on the side of one of the Ice Explorers. I guess Ferrari uses a different logo in Canada, eh? Look at the logo closely.

On the way back to the Icefield Visitor Center we saw a momma goat and her baby hanging out on the side of the hill.

Back on the Icefield Parkway.  Another fabulous glacier. Just gotta stop and take a picture.
This pool of water was so clear and still and the reflection so vivid we did a double take!

Glaciers grind the rock underneath to a fine white flour which makes the water look crystal clear.

Another beautiful (BIG) glacier.

We made it halfway down the Icefield Parkway today.  Tomorrow we continue south to the village of Lake Louise, but for now . . .  cocktails await.

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