by Marcy Lee McLellan
If you’ve ever been to the Canadian Rockies, you’ll understand why I have such a love and fascination for this beautiful and natural playground. I refer to the Rockies as my back yard. For the last two decades, I’ve had the opportunity to choose a lifestyle career of guiding adventure tours throughout Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay National parks. On a geological time scale, 20 years is nothing. Never the less, it’s still a significant amount of time to witness change in this unique environment. Mother Nature is powerful; we observe her strength through fires, floods, snowstorms, intense ultra violet rays and high winds. Perhaps the most notable change I’ve seen here in the Canadian Rockies is the ever-evolving Athabasca glacier.
One can access this glacier easily from the Columbia Icefield parkway on the border of Jasper and Banff National Parks, making it one of the most visited glaciers in North America. The combined effect of climate change and human impact are two theories for why this glacier continually recedes more then 10 meters per year. Even on a weekly basis, there are visible changes. As summer progresses, the sun heats the ice and water runs off, forming circular funnels that drill holes through the ice; a glacier feature called Moulins or mill wells. As well, crevasses and ice tunnels will form along the sides and toe of the glacier.
While many things have change over the years, what remains consistent is the awed response of an Austin Adventures guest when they come to the Canadian Rockies. It’s wonderful to see the looks on their faces the first time our guests see the jagged peaks and the brilliant turquoise hues of alpine lakes, which are the end result of glacial activity. From all the years of guiding travelers from all corners of the world, it is a joy to see the Canadian Rockies through their eyes.
In a nut shell, two decades of guiding is: co-guiding with more than 20 like minded adventurous peers; each year observing the mountain flowers bloom and turn to seed; watching the grizzlies raise their young and witnessing a glacier with a depth as tall as the “Sears Tower” slowly diminish. Seasons come and go but one thing remains the same; the Canadian Rockies will always amaze travelers and they will continue to astound future generations.
It is not only fun to be a Canadian ambassador, but my appreciation for “my backyard” has increased tenfold. One day it is my hope to adventure with you in the Canadian Rockies.
Until then, happy trails – EH!!