Glaciers and Gloom

One of the natural attraction highlights from our Alaskan RVing adventure was the day trip we took to the top of Salmon Glacier. Literally, I do not recommend making the steep, narrow, winding drive all the way up from Hyder, Alaska to the Salmon Glacier summit with your RV or trailer–though others clearly do it.

I’ll let Rene publish her rant about global warming and disappearing glaciers, but I will share some of my thoughts and photos from the spectacular sights we saw while driving the Icefields Parkway.

Salmon Glacier
Salmon Glacier, from Summit Viewpoint

I’ve always wanted to visit Jasper National Park and Banff. More specifically, I wanted to see for myself how beautiful the scenery was since first hearing about it decades ago. Well, we visited, check that off the list. But we didn’t see much since the skies were so smoky due to  the 700+ wildfires burning throughout British Columbia.

Smoky Banff Skies
Smoky Skies over Banff

Still, we did get up close and personal with Athabasca Glacier.

Athabasca Glacier Toe
Athabasca Glacier Toe

We’ve never paid so much to boondock in a parking lot, and we were not alone. But the close proximity to the Glacier made for some great views and a nice hike, regardless of all the smoke.

Before the rain and hail that caught us on the walk back to the Columbia Icefields Visitor Centre, the smoky skies made for some less than spectacular photos.

Still, no photos do do this place justice. It must be seen to be experienced.

The simple fact that these glaciers are disappearing cannot be ignored.

The date signs marking the location of the glacier toe over the decades get closer together as you approach its current location.

Athabasca Glacier Toe
Final Approach to Athabasca Glacier Toe

I can’t help but think how the increasing population of this planet–and the corresponding increase in the number of visitors to these places–have a serious impact. I find it ironic how hoards of tourists crowd the visitor center smoking their cigarettes before waiting in line to pay hundreds of dollars to board an all terrain “Ice Explorer” that drives them across the glacier surface spewing exhaust into the air…

Ice Explorer Waiting Line
Ice Explorer Waiting Line

But there I go digressing on my own rant. I’ll just say, do these people really need to discard their Styrofoam cups and plastic bottles on the ground in such a sacred place? And, do they really need a plastic psychedelic Bald Eagle figurine made in China?

Personally, I preferred walking to the glacier toe and appreciating the ground we walked on, and reflecting upon how it had been covered by ice for millennia…even if we did pick up after others along the way.

Glaciated Rock Formation
Glaciated Rock Formation

If you think I’m ranting, just wait until you hear from Lisa Simpson Rene…

LISA: Listen, people, how can you stand there eating snacks and being children when the world’s glaciers are vanishing? We have to do something about it. Glaciers are nature’s alarm clock, and it’s time for us to wake up. Can there be any doubt that the culprit is greenhouse gas, produced by man?

— Lisa Simpson: March 6, 2005 Simpson’s Episode “On a Clear Day I Can’t See My Sister

Boondocking at Columbia Icefields
Boondocking at Columbia Icefields Discover Centre

FYI: There is no cell service at the Icefields, so we were once again happy to get online with our RVDataSat 840!

Historical CO2 levels
Historical CO2 levels based on NOAA ice core samples.

Compare this data with increasing global warming symptoms.


Before anyone comments with an opinion about global warming being a hoax, or politically driven, or implying that recent climate change is not the result of human impact, please: get the facts and review the evidence before you embarrass yourself.

All feedback is welcome, though vitriol and idiocracy will be treated as spam. Thank you.

14 thoughts on “Glaciers and Gloom”

  1. These climate change deniers obviously don’t live in the Carolinas, or Houston, or Puerto Rico, or the arid west……
    “…the earth…has been changing since it has existed…” True, but rarely at the speed that is occurring now (meteor impacts and super-volcano eruptions aside). And in the past, abrupt changes in climate have always been accompanied by mass extinctions, such as the one occurring even as we speak.
    “What do you suggest….we all kill ourselves and hope it works?” Well no (…but wait, we won’t have to since, as noted above, a mass extinction is underway and will catch up with the human species, hopefully sooner rather than later), but how about electing politicians that aren’t hell bent on rolling back every single environmental protection in the US? How about reproducing less? Having a child is the single most carbon heavy action you can take. How about living more lightly on the planet? Have one child instead of two (better yet adopt a child that is already here and needs a home!), use fewer plastics, take fewer plane rides, eat less meat… No one is suggesting restoring glaciers per se. Rather the suggestion is to quit raping and pillaging the planet so she has a chance to heal herself.

  2. I just wanted to thank you for those beautiful pictures of a place I will probably never see in person. Your photos are spectacular, thank you so much for sharing. I have no opinions to share publicly, I am just enjoying that beautiful scenery. Hugs and safe travels to both of you!
    Jackie 💖

  3. One can see similar effects in Glacier National Park, not only in the decreasing size of the glaciers, but also in the decreasing number of glaciers present, which we experienced when we were there a few years ago. It’s a sad state of affairs, not only that humans have done this to the earth, our home, but that we continue to do it.

    It appears that maybe us not going to BC this year, worked out, even considering the reasons we didn’t make it. Maybe next year, there won’t be any fires and we’ll get to send you some smoke free photos. Thanks for sharing, and we’ll have to pick your brains over a future cocktail hour.
    Travel Safe and enjoy your travels.

  4. Clearly the glaciers have been disappearing as you say, for millennia. Clearly there is climate change. It isn’t new and it isn’t us earthlings that are causing what you see. The earth is way bigger and far more powerful than you imagine… it has been changing since it has existed. How much do you want to restore? How far back, given all the tools and money it would take? Should it be the ice age or what age? Oh, you just want to go back to the northern hemisphere covered with glaciers. If the issue is too many people what do you suggest… we all kill ourselves and hope it works? Start by removing all the warning labels on products, that would be a good start and save a lot of trees and whatever ink comes from.

    • How far back do I want to go Clinton? How about we change regulations so that our earth can recover and return to an era that I can clearly recall, when people didn’t say things like “I don’t remember the sky/weather/rain/snow (take your pick) being this way when I was growing up.” How about an era when the developing world and places with less infrastructure than the U.S. did not suffer the climate change misery caused by first world over-consumption? Because I am only 49 years old and I do remember a time when people’s homes and lives were not ruined by climate change. That might be a good start.

    • Wow. I expected this type of response, so I guess I should expect the comments only to get more ludicrous. I have therefore updated the post with this link from my reply to the earlier comment in hope that at least some of those who disagree with my rant will do their homework to understand that yes, mankind has indeed made a huge difference when it comes to natural global climatic change patterns.

      Thank you for the nudge Clinton!

  5. I agree regarding the litter, the cheap, hokey souvenirs and the “ride” on the glacier. If you want to experience the area, you should have to work a bit for it. However, I am very dubious regarding “climate change”. Too many stories of science facts skewed to a political agenda or notoriety. I think the earth is far more formidable than we assume. Climate change? Of course we need to be respectful, but the FACT is the US  land mass is just over 6% of the world. Our population is 4.4% of the world population. Unless far far more people take an interest in global warming or climate change or the next weather/human related disaster moniker, we are just a drop in the bucket.. just my opinion….

    • “facts skewed…political agenda…disaster moniker…drop in the bucket…”

      That’s funny, and sad. I never once mentioned this is a North American issue.

      I do agree that global climate changes have naturally occurred since the beginning of time. Any logical person, however, cannot dispute the realscience facts” about how the increasing population of this planet, and the increasing impact of our activities upon the environment over the past couple centuries are cause for serious concern.

    • It makes me wonder if the people who claim to be “dubious” about climate change have ever had their lives turned upside down by the destruction it is causing? Perhaps more of the doubters out there should have a conversation with those who have.


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