The Icefields Parkway – The Columbia Icefield
Banff & Jasper National Park, Alberta
The Great Road Trip of 2015
The evening before, I spent my time running around near the Columbia Icefield, the largest Icefield in the Rockies, as the weather once again gave me false hope of clearing for sunset. When it didn’t I retreated to camp, just a quarter mile from the famous icefield. Finally, just after a nice dinner around the campfire, some heavier rain forced me to further retreat to bed in the car. No matter – the forecast was clear to partly cloudy for sunrise the next morning so I was optimistic.
When I woke up, I wasn’t cold. I could tell the temperature had really dropped as I wiggled out of bed and in to my driver’s seat to open the door. It didn’t move. Still groggy, it took me a minute to realize the whole car was covered in a layer of ice – I had to put my shoulder in to the door to force it open and when I turned on the engine to get the heat going, it read 14°.
I was only six days in to my 12 day road trip and at that point, I was kind of over it. When I planned the trip months before, I had envisioned the picture-perfect adventure with sunny skies, golden hours, and starry nights to shoot. Instead, I had seen precipitation every day and I was constantly cold and damp. With so much of photography hinging on “good” light, I wasn’t getting the shots I had conceptualized either. I was in amazing places, but constant flat gray in the images of those places just isn’t appealing – not a compelling image. And I wasn’t hiking or biking because of the weather (and yeah… grizzlies too…) – I was spending much more time in the car driving than I ever thought I would simply getting antsier by the minute.
As I drove south back towards Banff, I felt defeated. I had already given in to myself that I’d just go find a nice hotel for the night and try to get re-energized. And as the downpour began again outside Saskatchewan River Crossing, it reaffirmed that I needed a warm bed and hot meal.