Saturday, September 3, 2016

Pretzeled Railroads and Fields of Ice

Pretzeled Railroads and Fields of Ice

Just north of the Lake Louise area, we took a brief westward jaunt into British Columbia's 
Yoho National Park to see the Spiral (railroad) Tunnels. 

Back in the 1880's, in their haste to complete the Canadian Pacific Railway line, the managers authorized the construction of a temporary, but very steep, segment over Kickinghorse Pass and down the "Big Hill". It had a grade of 4.4% or 116 feet per mile. After many incidents, derailments and deaths, this section was replaced with construction of the Spiral Tunnels. Apparently borrowed from the Swiss, the concept was to dig a pair of three-quarter turn circle tunnels into mountainsides across the valley from each other. The grade reduced to 2.2%. 
As a consequence, from different vantage points near the tunnels, it is possible to see the front locomotive leaving the upper end of the tunnel heading north, while the caboose enters the lower end of the same tunnel heading south. Look closely in the lower left corner of the photo below to see the single train on two different levels proceeding in opposite directions.

This tourist lifestyle is TOUGH on a body!
(Snoozing biker at a rest stop)

Back in Alberta, another indescribably blue lake, Peyto Lake, north of Lake Louise, entering the Icefields Parkway.

The Icefields Parkway conducts drivers between the Banff Park northward to Jasper town, paralleling the Continental Divide for 230km. The main attraction is the gargantuan, but shrinking Columbia Icefield, with its multitude of glaciers fanning out around it. 

The visitor driving the Parkway sees waterfalls, glaciers, lakes and rivers, brimming with glacier-melt milky waters.

Sunwapta Falls on the Sunwapta River (meaning "turbulent") is within Jasper National Park. It has a drop of 60 ft. and is a roaring 30 ft. wide.

Athabasca Falls, from the river of the same name is even more voluminous and drops 80 feet, tumbling over hard quartzite stone above through softer limestone below, to carve a narrow gorge.

Next, we're bound for the scenic and very popular Jasper National Park, 4200 sq. miles of mostly wilderness; chock full of gorgeous lakes, glaciers, mountains and wildlife.

1 comment:

  1. I hadn't known about the looping railroad there; how cool! It looks like the train is headed right toward that landslide. There is a highway in Korea, near Seoul, that loops like that. Nice photos of the falls along the highway. The Canadian Rockies are so grand! Keep on posting and having a great trip.