Thursday, July 28, 2005 -- Angel
Glacier and Mount Edith Cavell
This was our one full day around Jasper, and it dawned looking, well,
But there's no controlling the weather, so you just decide what to do
about it. The clouds pretty much ruled out long-range scenic
vistas, so we decided to go for some short-range ones and drove up to
There are a zillion pictures of Angel Glacier posted on the web.
You can of course find them with a Google Image Search on "Angel
But most of those pictures focus on the Angel, as if that's the only
thing to see. Not so!
There are actually two glaciers involved, three if you're
generous. Angel is a hanging glacier that forms in a cirque on
the mountain above. Down below, formed by snow falling off the
mountain (and in truth, some ice falling off Angel), is the Cavell
Glacier. It sits in the bottom of the valley, tucked up against
the cliffs, and calves directly into a small lake called Cavell
Pond. A third small chunk of ice, Ghost Glacier, hangs on the
side of the mountain off to the side.
The glaciers, the lake, and the cliffs are easily accessed by walking
trail from a good parking lot equipped with, if memory serves, no fewer
than 4 toilets with people lined up anyway. Apparently this is a
It certainly was when we arrived -- in fact we were most greatful to
the nice man who attracted our attention and pointed to a parking space.
In addition, there are several miles of well maintained trail with over
1500 feet elevation gain. Doing one of those seemed
like a good plan. (It also worked out quite well, not to hold you
Here's the overview, with the sign in the parking lot explaining how
very much larger the glaciers were during the "Little Ice Age" a few
hundred years ago. In the background we have Angel Glacier (upper
right), Cavell Glacier (center left), and oops, no lake -- that would
be just below the Cavell Glacier if we could see through the rubble.
Here's a shot from the upper part of the loop trail that accesses the
glaciers. The lake is still just barely hidden behind the piles
A bir farther along the trail, the lake comes into view. If you
click this one and make it full size, you can pan along the
lakeshore to see lots of people. There are even some intrepid
souls, or perhaps just innocent or stupid, exploring the
caves at image right. That would be where the ice of
the glacier is completely covered by rocks that have fallen from the
cliffs above. The signs recommend against this, of course, but
hey, it's their heads.
From a bit higher on the mountain, with some additional clouds starting
to roll in, it was like this.
Heading up the trail...
An earlier display -- at Peyto Lake Viewpoint, I believe -- said that
there were three kinds of heather in this area. On this hike
there were three very different forms, so maybe we got them all!
Approaching timberline, I shot this full-spherical panorama. (As
usual, press-and-drag to control the rotation.) The three people
were just some folks who were coming down as I was going up. They
seemed delighted when I asked permission to take their picture.
You can see that the weather is getting a bit dicey by this point.
Here is a shot of Angel Glacier from somewhat above treeline. You
can start to see how cracked the ice is, nearing the outer edge of the
cirque that the glacier forms in.
Here's a closer telephoto view. Click and make this full size, to
study the cracks.
Shortly after shooting the above pictures, it started to rain and I put
the camera away. We still wanted to get to the top of the trail,
so we kept heading up. Then we started to hear thunder, but we
kept heading up. The thunder got closer, and we saw a bit of
lightning, and after a while the top didn't seem quite important enough
to mess around with, so we headed back down. Cold wind with
rain. Quite pleasant if you're in the right frame of mind.
My kid tells me that some crazy guy up there was seen facing full into
the wind with his arms raised in exultation and the rain running down
his face, laughing like a maniac. I would like to have seen
that. (Alas, there were no mirrors handy...).
Coming down, we heard an icefall. I already had my camera out and
ready, so I was able to get several shots. The fall looks little
here, and I'm sure it is, in comparison to the big ones, but from the
sound of this thing I would not be surprised if a ton of ice were
involved. (Let's see, that's only about 35 cubic feet - so 4x4x2
feet, trivial - unless you get hit by it. To see a couple of
pictures of a larger fall, look at this web
page. It's in Dutch, but the BabelFish translation describes
the fall as a "small snow avalanche".)
Here's another overview shot, approaching the bottom as the sun came
There were still lots of people visiting the lake then.
Many of them were getting personally involved with the ice. This
little girl was by far the cutest of the lot!
Then we drove back to Jasper to spend the night.
From our hotel room, we were treated to the very strange site of
mist rising from bare patches of ground across the valley.
All I can figure is that those patches got a bit warm during the day,
so that when they got rained on they kicked the water back up as
evaporation, and temperature/humidity conditions were just right to
turn it back into mist. Probably happens often at some places,
but I don't recall having noticed it anywhere else.