Ice Cave Adventures

Ice Cave Adventures

Chelsea Scott

The Northern Life

That Canadian Girls Blog

Nestled into the mountains of Alberta, Canada, on the border of the iconic Jasper National Park and the world-famous Banff National Park, there is a hidden secret. A place thousands of years old, where you can gaze into the past, where you can reach out and touch a piece of world history. There is a cave made of ice of the purest blue, ice that has shaped our world and that is part of a now quickly receding glacier.

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Most people who visit the Columbia Icefields do so in the summer time; they park at the Discovery Centre across the highway and take the Snow Coach ride up onto the glacier, travelling in first class comfort to set foot on the glacier, to ooh and aah at standing on a moving river of ice. And while yes, I have definitely done that, and yes, it is a pretty cool experience, it is definitely not the best way to experience this incredible environment. What if I told you that you could explore INSIDE the glacier? That you could walk into something that is a piece of real history. Because you can; I have.

I would like to note, right here and now, at the beginning of this piece, that glaciers are incredibly dangerous places, where you should not travel unless you have the proper training, experience and equipment. One fall into a crevasse, and poof! You’re gone. So when travelling in and around the glacier, make smart, low risk decisions.

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Aside from the Snow Coach tour (the above mentioned bus tour to the top of the glacier), there is another great way to experience the Columbia Icefield: park your car across the highway from the Discovery Centre and hike the ‘Toe of the Glacier’ trail. This trail takes you across a breathtaking landscape, where moraines tower over you and the ground is littered with erratics and alpine plants and wildlife. As you can see in the photo above, this landscape makes us humans look, and feel, tiny. I love the feeling of standing in a landscape that dwarfs me. It makes you realize just how very big this world is.

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So in the winter, if you walk the road down to the lower parking lot, you will see a trail where people have crossed the debris field at the bottom of the glacier and it leads up to the foot of the glacier.

As you approach, you will notice a couple hollowed out sections in the foot of the glacier. I walked over first to the ones on the right, just to check them out. While these are not actually caves, it’s incredible to see the glacial ice up close. It is the most incredible blue color, something that no photograph can really do justice to.

Being able to reach out and touch something this ancient is an absolutely incredible feeling.

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Out of the three hollowed out sections, one is actually a cave. There really aren’t words to do justice to the cave, so instead I would like to show you.

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The entrance is really nothing remarkable, its not until you get closer that the light starts to catch the ice and light it up.

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For the entire approach to the cave, the wind had been tearing over the glacier and had been in our face and whistling in our ears. When we reached the cave and climbed inside, the abrupt silence was almost louder than the wind had been. There was no natural noise in the glacier, except for small creaks and groans from the ice mass.

 

Up close, the glacier was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen; there was almost a lacework of air bubbles and frost inside the otherwise perfectly clear ice.

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Standing inside the glacier was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. It was so much more awe inspiring than just riding a bus to the top of the glacier, taking a selfie to say I was there and then leaving. I worked for this, I hiked through a mix of mud, ice and snow and I slid down a glacier on my butt to get to this cave and it definitely did not disappoint.

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Should you ever want to visit the glacier, make sure to check conditions with local park authorities, and remember, the ice caves aren’t accessible in the summer!  No matter how you visit the Columbia Ice-fields, you are sure to be blown away and leave inspired.

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Chelsea Scott calls Alberta home where she is an KES Kananaskis Emergency Services Firefighter and guide for Kananaskis Outfitters. You can follow Chelsea’s outdoor adventures on her “That Canadian Girls Blog” and The Northern Life Facebook page. Chelsea describes herself as an adventure enthusiast who is madly in love with wild landscapes.

Not All Trophies Are Made Of Gold | Bear Hunting in Canada

David Frisbie - EvoOutdoors ProStaff

 

I read somewhere that “The core of a man’s spirit comes from new experiences.” Most hunters dream of traveling the world in search of big game. Whether it be a cape buffalo in the great plains of Zimbabwe, or a dall sheep in the mountain tops of Alaska. I am no exception to this by any means…

I find it exhilarating traveling to unfamiliar territory in pursuit of an animal I have never laid eyes on. This addiction has lead me to hunt everything from mountain lion to kudu in my 30 years. Where I am from we have more than enough big game to keep most outdoorsman occupied. Whitetail, pronghorn, feral hogs, desert mulies… just about any exotic game you can imagine. One thing Texas doesn’t offer is BEAR. Since I can’t find one here I decided I would go where I could chase one… I spent last August gawking over pictures of black bears of all shapes and color phases. Reading about them and how unique they really are. I decided that I had to hunt this amazing animal. I spent the next 3 weeks searching for outfitters, calling references, comparing prices, and looking at flights. I finally settled with Marshland Outfitters out of Candle Lake, Saskatchewan and booked my hunt. Then the preparation started…So the first week of June 2013 I found myself in the bush of Saskatchewan, Canada.

First thing was booking my flight, and making sure all of travel documents and reservations were in order. (Always look at your passport expiration date… Haha) Its always a good idea to check the gun laws in the country you are traveling as well. Some charge outrageous fees to import a firearm and others won’t let you at all. (This isn’t an issue if you are a bow hunter obviously.) Luckily it was only a $25 import tax for a  firearm.

After figuring out how I was getting there and back home it was time to start gearing up. After a little research on the climate and conditions I would be hunting, I made a checklist of things I would need. I figure it was going to be colder than a cast iron toilet…not the case at all! Beautiful weather to a Texan’s standards. Rain gear and a thermacell was right at the top of that list though. If you haven’t seen a mosquito in Canada; lets just say they are big enough that they will eat anything that doesn’t eat them first and they are thicker that fleas on a farm dog.

I researched what type of weapon was best too. A general rule I live by, is that the further you get from the equator the bigger the animal is. I was surprised in finding that any basic whitetail setup was plenty for a springtime bear. I talked to the outfitter to get a feel of my shot distances. Then I started practicing. Day in and day out it was practice, practice, practice! Did I mention practice? Every free second I had I dedicated to shooting until I was hitting tight enough groups at 40 yards I felt like I could do it blindfolded. I was taking my 270 WSM as well just for a backup plan. I usually live by the thought that if you have a Plan B, then Plan A wasn’t good enough. But in this case I would rather be safe than sorry.

Finally before I knew it my hunt was here. I was boarding a plane out of DFW to Saskatoon…  Headed 2000 miles north for a hunt of a lifetime. Our days were long… The sun would rise at 4:15 am and wouldn’t set until 11pm or so. Each day consisted of spotting and stalking in the mornings and sitting over a bait barrel in the evenings. I saw moose, elk, deer, and even had a close encounter with a pair of wolves one afternoon.  I watched numerous bears each day but was holding out for that special one. That one that I looked at through the binos and just said “WOW”. Well, that bear never presented itself. On day 4 of my hunt I decided it was time to lose the trophy hunter mentality and shoot something I would be proud of.

That afternoon it was raining off and on. It was even hailing pea sized hail at one point. However, I never wished I was any place else than right there. I watched bears come and go. Then, after 4 hours of waiting I had a beautiful black bear staring right at me. I watched him as he slowly moved through the trees. I found an opening he should come to if he continued on his path. Then I waited. 30 seconds seemed like an hour! As soon as he stepped into my shooting lane I didn’t hesitate. BANG! He ran a few steps and rolled up into a black heap on the leaf covered ground. I dunno if a tree makes a sound when it falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, but I can tell you that I was making more noise than a pissed off mule in a tin barn.

   2013 Canadian Bear Hunt

One of my greatest achievements in my hunting career is that bear. Not because of the size, but because I was so far away from home, in another country, doing it alone. He isn’t the biggest bear but he is MY bear. He is my biggest and best to date and I am proud of him. One thing I do regret is not being able to share the experience with someone at that very moment in time. Someone once told me “Happiness is only real when shared.”  There is something to that I think.

Some people sit around and talk about doing things, or what they would like to do. Then one day, they realize all their dreams have become regrets. My advice, get out and chase that monster bull elk or trophy mule deer. Stop living vicariously through Jim Shockey and Tiffany Lakosky on TV and go fill your own tags! When you want something in life, you just have to reach out and grab it.

“Keep your blades sharp and your powder dry”

 

David Frisbie