Monday 24 December 2012


My Alberta trip  cont…

From Lake Louise (I’ll write about it sometime), we drove our Chevy to the Athabasca

Glacier, a most scenic drive with mountains and turquoise lakes. Traversing the terrain away from civilization so to speak. For a minute I panicked when I found our mobile phones refused to connect in that wide wild expanse of wilderness, lost sort of … Talking about being cut off from the world so to speak my brother  knew nothing of the 9/11 holocaust  since he was  enroute to the Jasper National Park, he said. However we were armed with everything to ward off an emergency. I caught my breath every time I came across a board signaling Avalanche prone area. With continuous  drizzle the chances of an avalanche were very bright! We did see a small one on the road where the Avalanche clearing vehicle was already there clearing the spill! That talks a lot about administration of the place.

A little  unnerved but reassured, also  the beauty of the moment was too much of a distraction to mull over expected disasters, we went onward. Traversing the Canadian Rocky landscape was indeed a visual icing on the cake! It looked so unreal, a 3D movie! picture perfect!

Around every corner was a photo opportunity. With the innumerable photos we took we sure would have gone bankrupt had we to buy the photo rolls thanks to the digital camera , kudos to the inventors! We captured the awesome vistas of  mountain peaks and mountain tops (we were told that there is some difference between the two!) and glaciers and waterfalls. The ice plastered on the black mountains had different patterns , one particular one is etched in my mind so taken in I was that did not photograph it and pity I am not an artist else I could paint it .Well I’ll try to paint it with words …As we were nearing our  destination it seemed to me that on a black canvas couple of km long  painted with white was a women lying full length on her side  with her hand under her chin and her mane of black hair falling over her shoulder.. a face with a perfect couture … an upturned nose and all , of a beautiful women…    the strains of  the song, Author of beauty God on high ,this is for you that I sigh, the heavens are blue proclaiming to you the beauty of God the creator!.. came to my mind.

Unbelievably  indescribable scenes. The sunbeams changing their irradiance to create unique pictures… custom made for each tourist!  Smoothly we eased  in the parking lot of the rest area the wooden building that houses the information tourist  centre. From the Ice field visitors centre, I could see the glacier It looked like a mass of white sheet cold in the slight drizzle unfriendly and aloof.. that’s it. I thought to myself what a fuss Puru had made for this piece of ice. In order not to douse his excitement I put some excitement in my tone and oo’ ed and aah ’ed while he was buying the tickets to actually walk on the Athabasca. While we were  still standing in the queue it was announced that it was time for the bus to go …the next  set and the last ones to go were after an hour . We rushed and   climbed into the waiting bus took our seats behind the driver having a million questions in our heads which we thought we’d find out later from Google but we were pleasantly surprised when the driver turned out to be a guide as well, he gave us a detailed description about the geography of the whole terrain  .He showed us the now redundant bus that ferried passengers to and fro the glacier .It had tank like chain tyres . While we were all shaking rhythmically on the bus  because of the undulated road, he extolled the virtues of the bus at length . He showed us  the lateral and vertical Moraines it seemed so simple I remembered having burnt the midnight oil learning and drawing them for the geography test .A ride up here is a must for all kids ..just being here will make them experts. He informed us that this  ice river was as thick as the  length of Eiffel tower, snaking a few kilometers through mighty rock spires and turrets shrouded in so many folktales and history .He told us that the Athabasca was receding every year and he talked about the lake made  in its wake! So engrossed we were that the bus stopped and there I was all ready to step on the glacier, only to be told that it was further ahead and it was beyond the scope of the bus so were asked to get into another waiting bus. The red  bus had huge broad tyres. I literally shouted my fright when we started on a absolute vertical descent.The lovely young lady driver oblivious of the heightened adrenal of her passengers started a soci-economic geography lesson. It was like being on a huge roller coaster in an amusement park. Soon I got drawn into her enthusiastic description of the place. She pointed out that the centre gets submerged in snow in the winter months. In the spring it takes about 10 days to get it back into working order. She told us about it shrinking and expanding. She knew the names of the mountains surrounding the area and a whole lot... of the explorer who discovered the glacier ,someone who chalked out the route ,..some ancient folklore connected to some  nook and cranny  …before long we stopped a little away from the proud Canadian Flag marking the spot where a couple of  buses were waiting for their passengers to enjoy the experience. As she opened the Aero plane like door for us to deboard  she cautioned us to be within the area ear marked with colourful plastic stumps  beyond which safety was a question mark. Pointing to the narrow stream of running water she dispelled any fear harbored by the passengers about  carrying some foreign bacteria by saying that she’s been drinking out of it for the past two years giving us the green signal to taste it .

As we set foot  on the Athabasca a feeling of landing on the moon crossed my mind  I for one can tell you how Neil Armstrong must have felt .This is it !I thought !Wow! to be on the pristine pure holy ground and almost slipped .The snow was like in the refrigerator when it needs defrosting .It was so slippery quickly my brother came up with a solution to the problem take very small slow steps …soon we got a hang of stomping around taking small steps .I squealed with delight, energy surging in my whole being , being here was the stuff of legend ,fresh snow ,pure white delight of sunlight and flight ,laughter and  grit. We saw many of the tourists slipping and falling but getting up and walking around not wanting to waste even a moment of the twenty minutes that were given to us to be there. The whole place was full of sounds of happiness…happy yelling, resonating  happy laughter, children screaming with mirth, slipping, falling or simply rolly pollying, romping around! Believe me all the adults had the child in them activated. We were all kids atop the Athabasca.!!!!!

The scene near the tiny river lute resembled a holy spot where the people were sprinkling the water on their faces ,some were filling the water in their bottles ,some of us were scooping the elixir  with our cupped hands, drinking pure natural glacial/mineral water, well…feeling blessed after sipping the nectar.

Saw the Brewster Ice mobile in a new perspective ,it sure is a beauty item …red and proud. Proud  of the fact of  making  it possible for so many people to have a unique experience …an impossibility without it’s service! Took numerous photos inside it, beside it, under it…Kudos to the inventors of the ice mobile(find out who designed it?)Posed for a picture  holding  the Canadian flag as mark of thanks to the Canadian Tourism department for the foresight to making it a safe tourist attraction!

Soon the lady conductor and driver, rolled in one, started the bus, time to go .We all settled in our seats. To her question… ‘Any questions?’ I asked her about any accidents? my mistake believe me –the grotesque gory stories that she fed us while traversing the mountainous terrain ….my feet slammed on to imaginary brakes  for the fear that anytime the bus could fall off the steep incline! In the backdrop of that sweet, well modulated, melodramatic voice, which I chose to block  words like – crevasses- tourist disappeared- found after years …seemed as if just sleeping… gulped by crevasse…never to return…filtered in nevertheless . Our return journey continued smoothly with a commentary of true spine chilling stories connected with the Athabasca.  Athabasca who had given us  joyous times could be monstrous too! Dr.Jekyll  Mr. Hyde category I am sure!

Even as I am writing this ,the Information/Visitor Centre at the Athabasca Glacier must be fully clothed in snow. The hibernating Athabasca opened an eye to see the much loved entourage of Saint Nicholas going off to distribute gifts of joy and hope to the world settling down again  ...happy in the thought that it will  awake to  delight the tourists once again in May!

Zzzzzzzzzzzzz that’s Athabasca in deep slumber!