July 24, 2009
Just above the upper lift station on Whistlers Mountain, we got a full view of the town of Jasper, Alberta below us. Darla, Elyse, Jordan, Ashleigh and Jeff by a convenient rock near the top of the lift.
We had arrived at the Depot and lower lift station soon after it opened for the morning and walked toward the station with the lift at our backs. When we got to the station, we had a wonderful view of Pyramid Mountain on the opposite side of the valley, beyond Jasper.
Above is our wide view of the town of Jasper and the surrounding lakes, rivers and mountains. This view is from just above the upper lift station on Whistler Mountain.
Above is our view to the west from the area of the lift station. On very clear days, you can see Mt. Robson some 50 miles west, but it is hidden behind the hazy clouds in this view. You can see the highway and the railroad heading west through the valley.
At left is the view of the trail we were headed up toward the peak of Whistler Mountain.
We are now strung out on the trail above the lift station. Right in the middle of the view above are Patricia Lake and Pyramid Lake above Jasper. The peak just above the lift station is Pyramid Peak.
Above, Jordan finds a rock hiding place. We watch Ashleigh, Elyse and Jeff come up the trail, and Darla, Brenda and Mark are a little further back. We are beginning to lose Jasper behind the mountain, but we still have a good view of Lakes Patricia and Pyramid.
Although part of the trail was barren, like in the location of Darla and Elyse below, there were patches of beautiful wildflowers.
Above, Mark and Jeff at the top of Whistler Mountain get a wide view of the westward mountains. At right, they have Pyramid Peak in the background. The ground is barren except for the surprisingly vibrant patches of wildflowers.
We stopped for a snack at the top, with the rugged mountains behind us.
In this strange high mountain environment, we certainly saw things we don't normally encounter. Looking southward along the Athabasca River toward the mountains there into a strong sun, I got this fogbow phenomenon that I don't understand. It is definitely bluish toward the bottom and reddish toward the top, so color separation indicates refraction like a rainbow or diffraction like a corona. It would appear to be diffraction, but with this large radius of curvature, it would have to be from extremely tiny droplets. Another remarkable thing was the collection of beautiful clumps of wildflowers thriving in the midst of otherwise lifeless looking rock scree.
Continuing our mountaintop reverie on this clear, cool morning, we walked a bit south on the Whistler peak to look at the mountains south and southwest. Jeff and Jordan built a rock column as a memento, while Ashleigh and I just sort of drank in the scenery, including the clumps of wildflowers.
Such stone columns are referred to as 'inuksuks' after the Inuit practice. They typically did them as a likeness of a person, and those specifically are called inukshuk, for "likeness of a person" in their language.
We headed down the mountain, but this big flat-topped rock on a lower peak was just irresistable. Jeff and the girls climbed to the top, and then Jeff and Mark used it as a prop to produce an image looking like they were just hanging on way up in space with just high mountain peaks surrounding them.
Mark found a pretty convincing location that made him look like he was just hanging out there in space on the top of a rock ledge.
As we neared the lift station, we again had this wide view of Jasper. That was one of the reasons we chose to schedule Whistler Mountain as part of the first day's agenda, so we could get a first-hand view of the features around Jasper. We were to visit most of these locations in the next few days.
I took another look westward from the area of the lift station, and the air had cleared enough to get a tantalizing view of Mt. Robson, 50 miles away, which is the highest peak in the area. You can see it just peeking up in the center top of the picture. The blue haze is still evident, but it is clear enough to see 50 miles.
Although the scattering from the haze caused by shooting into the sun detracted from the beauty of this scene, it is interesting to see the road along the Athabasca River that we had traveled yesterday on the way into Jasper.
Ashleigh's face reflects in the window of our tramway as we descend from Whistler Mountain. Another group meets us on the ascending tramway. We now certainly know what Jasper looks like from above and are ready to explore some more things down on its level.