Canadian Mountain Wilderness
Yellowhead Highway - between Edmonton and Prince George - is passing the centre of Yasper, the biggest Mountain Canada National Park. This territory forms, together with National Parks of Banff, Kootenay, Yoho and other small reservations, protected area, registered in UNESCO Heritage Survey. So, the unique nature of Rocky Mountains is protected on surface of 23000 square kilometres. Mountain peaks in an altitude, exceeding 3000 metres, covered with snow, where glacier tongues are glittering, are arising above extended valleys. Mountain hill-sides are covered with dark motionless forests. Inside the valleys, extent lakes are spreading, connected with wild roaring torrents.
In small tourist resort community of Yasper, in the centre of the park, which is the first point for visitors, in south direction towards Icefields Parkway, the road is turning aside. This road, with a view to mountain panorama, is bordered with many circular view posts, was obviously constructed with a target, to show the park to visitors in its fully beauty. In south, behind Wilcox Pass, the road crosses neighbouring Banff National Park, passing, at the same time, Athabasca glacier tongue, 5,5 kms long and even 1 km long. This tongue is most powerful headland of 325 kms long Columbia glacier field, the greatest consistent ice shell of Rocky Mountains, the layers of which are 350 metres thick on some places. So, this white surface is bordered with five highest peaks of Canada, including Mount Columbia, the highest mountain of the park (3747 m).
Except Athabasca glacier, the other seven glaciers are arising from this ice field, such as, for instance: Dome, Kitchener or Stuttfield, fully using three greatest river systems of North America, i.e. Mackenzie-River, falling into North Ice Ocean, further, Nelson, meeting Hudson Bay, and Columbia-river, flowing into Pacific Ocean. However, since 18th century, Columbia ice field is systematically stepping back. In east direction, from the middle mountain belt, paralelly to Icefields Parkway, along impressive Maligne Canyon, narrow road is winding. The road leads among steeply rising peaks, passing Medicine Lake (ensnared with legends) towards 22 kms long Maligne Lake. In autumn, Medicine Lake is a scene of quite extraordinary nature play. When Maligne-river, which is a water source for this lake, is frozen over, the lake become completely dry.
At the end of the road, the visitors could admire a side-scene of majestic mountains around Maligne, covered with snow and glaciers. This is the greatest mountain Canada Lake. The lake is 97 metres deep and gleams with uncredible turquoise colour. Rocky Mountains were created 135 millions of years ago, when two continental tables were encountered. Just at this meeting, even 4000 metres high and 4500 kms long coastal mountain range was created, which is spreaded from Alaska up to New Mexico. Anyway, the growth of this mountain range was stopped 65 millions of years ago. So, till now, all mountain springs give their evidency about forces, which are still storming below such powerful broken belt.
Fauna and Flora
In Yasper National Park, rich fauna and flora were preserved. Various biotops on plain land, sub-Alpine as well as Alpine belt are inhabitated with 1200 sorts of plants and 56 sorts of animals. To most extended biotop belongs sub-Alpine belt, situated in an altitude between 1800 and 2100 metres above sea level. The slopes and high situated areas are covered with dense forests, mainly with pine-trees. (Engelmann pine-trees or twisted pines). Under the protection of these trees, the Karibu reindeers, elks, ear-deers or white-cock deers are living. However, hungry wolves, baribal bears, grizzly bears or Canadian lynx are menacing them. To most vulnerable park-biotop belongs Alpine belt in an altitude of 2100 metres above sea level. So, here you can find resistant timothy grass or small polar willow trees survive. These plants serve as a food for camois, thick-horn sheep and marmots.
Text: Denisa Arvajová
Translation: ing. Jan Jonáš
Photo: picasa.com - I-Hsien, wikipedia.com - Albertoaldana, Wing-Chi Poon, Geoffl, Eriklizee, Srimesh, Jon Sullivan, Talhamujahid
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