Abraham Lake in Alberta’s David Thompson Nation is the most important reservoir within the province. Water is backed up behind the Bighorn Dam (in-built 1972) on the North Saskatchewan River. There’s a fascinating phenomenon that occurs each winter when methane fuel bubbles derived from beneath get trapped within the ice on the lake. This creates fantastic patterns and results within the ice. The ice bubbles are considered derived from decomposing natural materials submerged when the reservoir was filling. There may be a part derived from pure fuel (of which Alberta has a lot) seeping by the rocks underlying Abraham Lake. No matter the supply, you possibly can see successive layers of methane ice bubbles trapped because the ice thickens. This photogenic flourish is commonly captured on Instagram.
I questioned if it was definitely worth the sometimes-harrowing winter drive alongside the Icefield Parkway to see the Abraham Lake bubbles. On a current winter journey to Jasper when the driving was good, I made a decision that it was the right time to make the 30-minute detour from Saskatchewan River Crossing (an hour’s drive north of Lake Louise), to see them.
When you’ve by no means accomplished the drive on the David Thompson Freeway (Freeway 11) you’re in for a deal with. It’s a magnificence and on a winter weekday, visitors is non-existent.
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Is it definitely worth the drive to see the Abraham Lake bubbles?
Now that I’ve seen the ice bubbles, I’d extremely advocate a visit. However I’d do the journey a bit of otherwise.
Ideally, I’d keep within the Nordegg space (solutions beneath) so I may catch dawn or sundown. If that didn’t work out, I’d purpose for Lake Louise (since I stay in Calgary) so the early morning or late afternoon drive can be shorter. When you have been coming from Edmonton, I’d head for Jasper or Pink Deer the evening earlier than.
On the day I visited, the temperature was near 0°C, so regardless that I didn’t put on a number of heat garments, I used to be snug. Nonetheless, I ought to have put some handwarmers in my pockets because the wind was biting. It didn’t take lengthy to get chilly palms – with gloves coming off and occurring each time I took a photograph. You additionally burn by digital camera batteries shortly within the chilly and handwarmers work properly for retaining them heat.
I’d additionally convey a tripod subsequent time, as a result of the wind is so loopy that it may be arduous to maintain the digital camera nonetheless. I’ve heard of individuals’s tripods (and cameras) going crusing! Train warning and take into account bringing a weight in your tripod.
The place are the perfect viewpoints?
There are a number of spots the place you possibly can see the Abraham Lake ice bubbles. All of the stops described are alongside Freeway 11, additionally referred to as the David Thompson Freeway. The gap between Preacher’s Level and Allstones is about 30 km.
When you’re driving from Saskatchewan River Crossing, Preacher’s Level is the primary cease you come to on Freeway 11. It’s a well-liked spot with an honest sized car parking zone that I perceive can get fairly busy. The great thing about this place is that there are a lot of shallow sections – so you possibly can see the grass and rocks beneath the floor. I definitely may together with some large stress ridges. Watch out for weak ice near shore because of the North Saskatchewan River.
Cline Touchdown is east of Preacher’s Level. It’s a superb place to go to early within the season. However due to its location, the winds can’t clear the snow as soon as the ice will get snow coated.
The Stomach of Abraham is near a newly constructed car parking zone with a washroom. It’s about 5-10 km west of Windy Level and a terrific spot to search for massive, clear ice bubbles. This space is the place you would possibly need to go skating if the situations are good.
Allstones Cove is the closest viewing spot to Nordegg. There’s a trailhead and a path right down to the lake. Take pleasure in each a terrific view of Abraham Lake and a few cool trying ice formations. It’s really helpful that you simply benefit from the ice formations from shore.
Windy Level gives a implausible view of Mount Mitchener however keep away from occurring the ice between Windy Level and the dam because the slope right down to the lake may be very steep.
How are you aware if it’s a superb day to go to?
The Abraham Lake bubbles are greatest visited from early January – as soon as the ice is secure sufficient to stroll on, till mid- late February, although some years if it’s chilly sufficient, the ice bubbles final into March. You’d positively need to get a learn on situations earlier than doing the drive to keep away from disappointment. Visiting after a giant snowstorm wouldn’t be a good suggestion. Alternatively, if its been windy for days, the ice can have been swept clear.
When you’re on Instagram you possibly can attempt to get actual time data by trying up hashtags like #explorealberta, #abrahamlake, #icebubbles, and #abrahamlakeicebubbles. Don’t hesitate to touch upon the picture and ask for an replace on situations. I discover most individuals are useful.
If you wish to take the guesswork out of a go to, you possibly can ebook a half or full day tour with Pursuit Adventures. Danielle, the proprietor says folks at all times underestimate how lengthy they’re out on the ice. She tells me that some folks really feel like its been minutes, not hours that they’ve been out exploring. Guide a number of days upfront to keep away from disappointment. She will likely be operating excursions, whereas situations are good, into March 2021.
What’s the perfect time of day to see the Abraham Lake Ice Bubbles?
For probably the most dramatic photographs of the Abraham Lake bubbles, purpose to be on the lake for dawn or sundown. At dawn give your self some further time – as you’ll be driving at the hours of darkness in winter, maybe in an space you’ve by no means visited earlier than. You’ll need time to search out the parking areas – and get arrange. It can be arduous to gauge street situations forward of time.
Don’t fear in case you miss dawn or sundown. Actually anytime, however proper after a snowfall, remains to be a spectacular time to go to.
Security on Abraham Lake
The very last thing you need to do on a winter go to to Abraham Lake is go for a swim. In response to the Pink Cross the ice must be at the very least 15 cm thick for strolling alone and 20 cm thick for skating events. The thicker and bluer the ice the higher! Gray ice is the least secure because it signifies that there’s water current.
You must also keep away from any space that’s near a river or creek coming into the lake. When you see shifting water, beat a hasty retreat. In early winter and spring, be notably cautious of snowy sections that could be overlaying up skinny ice. For security’s sake, keep near shore.
Icers or microspikes turn out to be useful, particularly because the lake isn’t flat – and there’s a stunning quantity of up and down on stress ridges.
The David Thompson area is distant. You usually gained’t get a cell sign; the climate can change in a heartbeat and the driving will be icy. Make sure you carry a well-stocked emergency equipment in your automotive that features blankets, further meals and drinks.
Earlier than you head to Abraham Lake, make certain you’re ready with heat, wind-proof clothes together with a heat hat. I’d take an additional pair of winter socks, a number of hand and toe heaters, icers or ice cleats – and even a pole in case you fear about your stability.
For clothes I’d advocate a down jacket as an underlayer and a windproof prime layer.
When you fear about being out of contact, take into account getting an InReach – however you higher have a plan and know the right way to use it.
Discovering Abraham Lake and the ice bubbles
When you’re driving from Jasper or Banff, take the Icefield Parkway to get to Saskatchewan River Crossing. Head east on Freeway 11 for about 32 km to achieve Preacher’s Level. Over the subsequent 20 – 30 km there are quite a few viewpoints and areas the place you possibly can entry the ice.
When you’re coming from Pink Deer it’s a couple of 2.25-hour drive on Freeway 11 to achieve Allstones Cove, roughly 200 km to the west. Drive one other 30 km to achieve Preacher’s Level.
The place to remain the evening earlier than
For the perfect location, proper on Abraham Lake ebook in at Arum Lodge – a easy however clear place I stayed at years in the past in the summertime.
In Nordegg, try Expanse Cottages, a couple of 30-minute drive away.
Another choice in case you’re driving from Rocky Mountain Home is the very pretty Prairie Creek Inn, one of many Charming Inns of Alberta.
There are a number of wonderful choices in Lake Louise. It’s a couple of 90-minute drive away.
On the increased finish is the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
Baker Creek Mountain Resort, simply exterior of Lake Louise can be a terrific alternative if you’d like a quiet cabin by a frozen river with a fireplace pit expertise.
The Lake Louise Inn can be a superb mid-range alternative and the Lake Louise Alpine Hostel can be an inexpensive possibility.
In Jasper, I extremely advocate the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge for a premium expertise.
Pyramid Lake Resort, a couple of 10-minute drive out of city, can be a terrific alternative. And on the town, I’d recommend Bear Hill Lodge.
The place to get fuel and meals within the winter
Earlier than you head to Abraham Lake, be sure you have a full tank of fuel. Replenish in Lake Louise, Jasper, Nordegg or Rocky Mountain Home. Within the winter, you can’t get fuel in Saskatchewan River Crossing.
Make sure you convey snacks together with cold and hot drinks with you. There are a few locations to choose up meals and drinks in Nordegg and plenty of alternative in Lake Louise Village and Jasper.
Additional studying on issues to do inside 90 minutes of the Abraham Lake bubbles
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