Sunwapta Falls

July 26 , 2008

Driving back northward from the Columbia Icefield, we stopped at the Sunwapta Falls where the Sunwapta had already grown from that stream we saw coming out of the toe of the Athabasca Glacier to a roaring river through a narrow gorge.

Sunwapta is a Stoney Indian word meaning "turbulent river". The Stoney's moved through these valleys before the arrival of the fur traders.

One of the things that was hard for me to get used to is the fact that this river is flowing northward - I just automatically presume that river current is southward. But the Sunwapta is a part of the northern watershed that terminates in the Arctic Ocean.

Below the falls the water is completely white with froth as it plunges into a deep gorge.

Very rough water as the Sunwapta flows through this narrow gorge.

Brenda watches the turbulent water just above the falls.

Rod with part of the Sunwapta River above the falls. Part of the torrent over a large rock.

The Sunwapta flows through a dense forest to the falls. Below are part of the rapids above the falls.

Turbulent flow through the Sunwapta gorge.

A short distance north of the Sunwapta Falls we came upon a group of seven mountain goats beside the road. They were not alarmed by my presence or by the cars coming by. The curious thing was that there was hardly anything to eat where they were, so it may be that there was some mineral in the ground that they were after.

You can see that the adults are nuzzling the bare ground, not the vegetation.

Like most of the other animals we have seen, they were molting. But they seemed like fine, healthy animals that were just here for their mineral supplement for the day.

There were three males, two females and two kids in this grouping.

To Athabasca Falls

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