Deb and I drove the Banff to Jasper highway in the summer of 1993, visiting places where I'd worked in my teens and twenties.  We stopped at the Columbia Icefield where I'd been a tour guide to Japanese, American, Canadian and German visitors.  We had the dogs with us.  We camped, and awoke one morning to snowfall in mid-July.

    The Athabasca Glacier is irrefutable proof positive of global warming. In the twenty years since I worked there, the glacier has receded a couple of kilometres.  Standing in the spot I'm photographing from, I would have been encased in more than twenty feet of ice twenty years earlier.

This was my first brindle Great Dane, Cleo.
In my day, I used to give the adventure ride of their life to eight tourists at a time in this wonderful old Bombardier half-track, looking down sink wells and crevasses, close to the ice, bombing around on the ice with a hilarious spiel that always generated monster tips for me and unforgettable memories for them.

In 1993, Deb had to ride in this slow,  air-conditioned bus, listening to the drone of a bored tour guide speaking into a microphone, insulated from direct experience of the highlights and thrills of the glacier.  I refused to go on this ride.
         Part of my guided tour spiel, twenty years earlier: upon passing a sign of a penguin with blood dripping from its beak, posted beside a crevasse by a fellow guide, 
    "That?  Oh, that's the Albino Penguin.  They hide in the crevasses.  Yes, they're hard to see.  They're the same colour as the ice, of course, being albino, and they generally only come out at night.  They're responsible for the loss of the glacier - you know that it is receding, don't you? The Albino Penguins sneak out at night down there at the toe of the glacier, and chew on it to keep their beaks sharp.  A little each adds up, night after night.  The glacier gets about six feet shorter every year. 
    "Dangerous?  Oh, very dangerous, indeed.  Did you notice the blood on his beak?  When visitors fall down one of these crevasses, they are never found again.  We believe they are quickly consumed by the voracious Albino Penguins.")

    When Deb and her fellow passengers got off the bus at the turn-around point, they got to stroll around for a short time on one of the upper steps of the glacier, which pours out through the pass ahead of them from a huge bowl formed by a ring of high mountain peaks.  Twenty years earlier, Japanese tourists would bring bottles of whiskey to mix with glacier ice chips, to toast their arrival at this spot.  It was a great tradition, and the tour guide was required to share the toast.  At eight tours per day, it could get a bit dicey if there were too many Japanese tour groups on your schedule.

We passed this lake on the drive down to Rocky Mountain House.  It looks like a doctored picture postcard, but this is truly just a photograph. It looks just as we saw it with our own eyes on that day.  Spectacular.

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