Thursday, June 23, 2005

Wabasso Campground, Jasper National Park

Mt. Edith Cavell.

A campsite here at Wabasso Campground is $19.00. I have the feeling if I keep heading south, camping will be as expensive as a motel.

Cooked some Thai noodles to have with my Miss Vickie’s Lime and Pepper Potato Chips (so bad, but so good!)

Jasper has been a pain to get through – I'm brought to a halt so often by the magnificent scenery! Incredible views. Unfortunately, the park is transected by a major rail and trucking freight corridor at its northern end.

But here at the campground, the only man-made sound is a noisy fan on the restroom 100 yards away.

Late in the day, I took a side trip up to Mt. Edith Cavell, an amazing monolith. There is a hostel high on an adjacent mountain, providing access to this wild backcountry. A surprising number of campers had driven up the road to a parking lot at the end.

Two trails depart the parking lot and provide different perspectives of the mountain. The upper trail is still closed. I followed the lower trail out near the base of Mt. Cavell. On its north flank, the Angel Glacier forms a large bowl, or cirque; its “wings” break over a sheer cliff. The glacier connected to the floor as recently as 1978, but now water cascades from the glacier to the valley floor.

The trail led through the rubble left by the receding glaciers, where over the past 50 years a forest of dwarfed spruce trees has begun to sprout. As the sinking sun shown through breaks in the cloud, the light was constantly changing. Wandered beneath the mountain for a long time. Occasionally, rock could be seen, or perhaps just heard, tumbling from above. At least once, a thunderous sound echoed throughout the valley, an avalanche high above, out of view. A magical, but potentially hazardous natural cathedral.

Angel Glacier spilling over from a mountain basin.

Mt. Edith Cavell and the Ghost Glacier clinging to its face.

Flanks of Mt. Edith Cavell, with snow avalanche cones, and the Cavell Glacier at the lower right.

The Angel Glacier.

Edith Cavell was a British nurse during World War I. She refused to evacuate from Belgium when the Germans occupied it, and continued to care for both German and Allied soldiers. After it was discovered she was helping Allied soldiers escape, the Germans charged her with espionage and she was executed.

Cavell Glacier, Jasper. The ice chunk on the left, which fell from the Angel Glacier high above, was 8 to 10 feet high.

Bonsai forest of, primarily, Engelmann Spruce.

A bonsai forest lives in the moraine at the foot of Mt. Edith Cavell. This tree is only about 18 inches tall.

A Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel. A grand name for this tiny creature.

He sneezed.

Now for the "art" shot. Lichen.


This morning in Grande Cache, I got up at 9:00, but was very slow to move. Rain had soaked things overnight. It was cold and windy, but the sun was trying to break through. Workers were heading off to the oil and gas fields. Showered before noon and was off just after. Started back toward the power plant I had passed last night, but rain showers blocked my way. I didn’t want to re-soak things.

Highway 40 was not nearly as torn up as I anticipated, based upon the campground manager's warnings. All along the route, logging access roads entered the highway. Some had signs from “Devon Canada Corporation”, one of the largest independent oil and gas companies. Almost all the exploration and exploitation seems to go on "behind the scenes," behind a curtain of trees. Is it out of aesthetic consideration, or is there perhaps a need to conceal the magnitude of the desecration? We are all complicit, and I realize this as the miles glide under my wheels.

Unclear concept. If the cars and trucks running through the middle of your sanctuary don't get you, the hunters will.

Weyerhauser is alive and well in Alberta too. The diverse forest is being cleared and replanted with fir and pine.

Weyerhauser is doing its thing in Alberta, clear-cutting and replanting in a monoculture, what appears to be pine and fir. I ventured off on one logging road to get a closer look. They are making wholesale changes to the character of these forests. This MUST come at an environmental cost.

This better shows the mixed forest that's being replaced by "crops" of trees.

Reaching Hinton, I was very surprised at the horrendous traffic. Trucks, tourists, contractors. I expected to find a small town, not a major rest stop.

At "Tim Horton’s", I gassed up and grabbed a toasted chicken sandwich and Coke. At a bank in town, I withdrew CAD$200.

Turned west into Jasper National Park. The town of Jasper is a very popular resort, like Whistler, but more quaint, with a European flavor. Filled with tour buses. The short time I was there, I heard numerous visitors speaking German. Went to a bakery. Noticed the oldies soundtrack, similar to "The Keg", but there were only young kids working here. "Who chooses this stuff?"

At a Petro-Canada station, an informational sign explains the breakdown of gasoline costs: 17% refining and marketing; 2% profit; 42% crude; 39% tax. It's amazing oil companies can succeed on 2% profit. Somehow I think "the facts lie." Aren't they in fact paying themselves (i.e. their subsidiaries) for the crude, the refining, the marketing? Is there not profit built into each process? Are we consumers so gullible?

Jasper National Park. In many places, the mountains are thrust upward 45° or more.

Jasper landscape

Athabasca River


Laura said...

**an informational sign explains the breakdown of gasoline costs: 17% refining & marketing; 2% profit; 42% crude; 39% tax. It's amazing oil companies can succeed on 2% profit.**

I think it's actually a 2% profit that the GAS STATION makes on the sale of gas. There are gougers that make more, by jacking up the prices. But you'd be surprised to know that the gas stations actually don't get charged that much less than what they charge the customer. When I worked for the oil company in California (we simply did distributing to construction company sites, gas stations etc), depending on if they were purchasing Branded (Exxon, Shell etc) or Unbranded (generic) gas, would affect their cost. Unbranded obviously being cheaper. For instance, if we wholesaled the gas to them at $1.59 a gallon, we the consumer were probably paying around $1.70 or so for it. Ahh those were the days! :)


timtraveler said...

Thanks, Laura for the clarification!