Waking early, the team drove south back along the Icefield Parkway. On the earlier north bound journey, in the race to get accommodation in Jasper, a number of points of interest were strategically skipped. These were visited on the return trip and included:
- Mount Edith Cavell (the team met an Australian retired couple who had driven more than 10k km in their hire car that they picked up in Vegas. Inspired!)
- Athabasca Falls
- Mistaya Canyon
- Parker’s Ridge
|Icebergs at Mount Edith Cavell
|Glacier behind Parker’s ridge
Just before the Columbia Icefield, Ang, had gone from not wanting to come across a bear to being disappointed with the numbers seen thus far. She said to Simon ‘I really want to see some bears , keep looking into the forest as we drive as we don’t have much time left’. Banff and Jasper National parks were soon to deliver.
|Standard Canadian flood plain
|Yet another Standard Canadian lake
The first animal the team came across was a Caribou. It had run into the middle of a freezing stream to avoid being eaten by a wolf. The Caribou jam it caused had the usual assortment of high powered camera and lens assemblies. One ‘imager’ was kind enough to let the team have a look through her scope. The Caribou didn’t seem too happy and the wolf was nowhere to be seen. An earlier photograph taken by the ‘imager’ allowed the team to see the wolf. After seeing the picture, Simon remarked that “the Caribou seems to have the right idea”.
About 2 km further down the road, the team spotted the next jam. This one was for a juvenile grizzly bear that was feeding on berries. The bear attracted about 30-40 cars and twice as many people. The team observed the bear for a good 40 minutes as it came progressively closer to the road. At one point the safer option was the back of a nearby pickup truck when the bear came within 30m of the road (recommended distance is 100m plus). The team stayed amongst the crowd until the bear decided it was time to go eat a salmon, or that thing bears do in the woods.
|Large bear jam
|Close enough to see the whites of the grizzly’s eyes
|Right on, maul that bush
Back in the car, the team stopped briefly at the Athabasca glacier, then soon after spotted the next bear jam up ahead. This time, there were two black bears, munching on the roadside berries. The advantage for the team was little time was lost as the convenient roadside location allowed photos to be taken from the car. Fading light meant the team was soon driving again. The Icefields Parkway came to an end and the team arrived at Banff. There they slept before the short drive the next day back to Calgary.
|Bears want berries eh?
|Black bear random berry walk
Racing into Calgary, the team attempted to complete an ongoing challenge of the exclusive race – find and purchase unique cowgirl boots for Ang. By the time they had arrived in the city centre and checked the location of western shops, less than 2 hours remained to return the hire car to the airport. Racing through the city streets, shop after shop was checked by the team, but with no success.
Back to the car and then out of the city and on to the airport they went. At this point heavy rain made driving conditions difficult, but the team managed to navigate their way to the hire car drop off. Then it was onto the red eye flight to Montreal, some 3028 kms to the east.
Arriving in the middle of the night, the team took a crazy taxi ride through countless construction sites to Merryl’s place, checking into the pitstop for this leg of the race.