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Looking for Mars in the Rockies

July 3, 2018 Tuesday – Martian Analogues in the Canadian Rockies, Alberta, Canada

Victoria to Calgary road trip 2018

After having an early breakfast in my hotel room for the second day in a row, our tour bus leaves early bound for the Canadian Rockies. This all-day tour is hosted by three geologists (and RASC members) who share their knowledge about the landforms found in the Canadian Rockies, and how this geomorphology can be used as an analogue to the surface conditions found on Mars. We are all given handouts authored by our hosts, with scientific  references, diagrams, and notes. We also have Dr. Tania Harrison along on this tour, our banquet speaker who talked about finding water on Mars.

After making a quick shopping stop in Cochrane, we drive through Canmore and through the Canadian Rockies north to Banff. Along the way, our guides point out alluvial fans, erosion, rocky glaciers, snow fields, and other analogues of features found on Mars. There is snow falling as we drive over the Glacier Parkway summit. We have a rest stop at Saskatchewan Crossing on our way to the Columbia Icefield, part of the Athabaska Glacier. I visited here in 1968 and remember the tongue of the glacier being much closer to the road. There are markers showing how the glacier has retreated over the years, as we walk up to the tongue of the glacier.

We return to our hotel quite late, so I drive a few who were also on the tour and myself to Nick’s Steakhouse and Pizza, where we have a nice dinner along with excellent service.

Mt. Rundle, the Bow River and Cascade Mountain to the north
Mt. Rundle, the Bow River and Cascade Mountain to the north
Mt. Lady MacDonald, Highway 1 just north of Canmore, the Bow River, Three Sisters Peaks, south end of Mt. Rundle
Mt. Lady MacDonald, Highway 1 just north of Canmore, the Bow River, Three Sisters Peaks, south end of Mt. Rundle
Cascade Mtn - westbound through the Rockies
Cascade Mtn – westbound through the Rockies
Looking back at Massive Peak from the           Vermilion Lakes viewpoint
Looking back at Massive Peak from the Vermilion Lakes viewpoint
Mt. Rundle and  canoeists on Vermilion Lakes
Mt. Rundle and canoeists on Vermilion Lakes
Mt. Norquay in the clouds from the Trans-Canada Highway
Mt. Norquay in the clouds from the Trans-Canada Highway
Aluvial fans of ice, snow and rock
Aluvial fans of ice, snow and rock
Joe marvelling at the snow in summer
Joe marvelling at the snow in summer
My tour group at the snowy Bow Lake rest stop
My tour group at the snowy Bow Lake rest stop
Aluvial fans of ice, snow and rock
Aluvial fans of ice, snow and rock
Raven near the bus at the snowy Bow Lake rest stop
Raven near the bus at the snowy Bow Lake rest stop
Aluvial fans of ice, snow and rock
Aluvial fans of ice, snow and rock
Icefields Parkway winding through the North Saskatchewan River valley
Icefields Parkway winding through the North Saskatchewan River valley
Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls
Columbia Icefield
Columbia Icefield
Sightseers on the Columbia Icefield
Sightseers on the Columbia Icefield
Columbia Icefield, from the Discovery Centre
Columbia Icefield, from the Discovery Centre
People on the trail to the toe of the Columbia Icefield
People on the trail to the toe of the Columbia Icefield
Joe in front of the Columbia Icefield
Joe in front of the Columbia Icefield
Hikers on the  Columbia Icefield
Hikers on the Columbia Icefield
Glacier on a mountain above the Columbia Icefield
Glacier on a mountain above the Columbia Icefield
Hikers returning from the  Columbia Icefield
Hikers returning from the Columbia Icefield
Upper reaches of the Columbia Icefield
Upper reaches of the Columbia Icefield
Cirrus Mountain in the clouds with waterfalls
Cirrus Mountain in the clouds with waterfalls
Aluvial fans of ice, snow and rock
Aluvial fans of ice, snow and rock
Dolomite Peak in the clouds
Dolomite Peak in the clouds
Mount Andromache in the clouds
Mount Andromache in the clouds
Castle Mountain in the clouds
Castle Mountain in the clouds
Rainbow over Cockscomb Mountain
Rainbow over Cockscomb Mountain
The old Moon at Noon over the south end of Mt. Rundle
The old Moon at Noon over the south end of Mt. Rundle
Castle Mountain, the Sawback Range, Mt Ishbel and the Bow River
Castle Mountain, the Sawback Range, Mt Ishbel and the Bow River
Castle Mountain, the Sawback Range and the Bow River
Castle Mountain, the Sawback Range and the Bow River
A bird-of-prey flying in front of Castle Mountain
A bird-of-prey flying in front of Castle Mountain
Vermilion Lakes with Mount Rundle, Sundance Peak,  Mount Howard Douglas & Massive Peak
Vermilion Lakes with Mount Rundle, Sundance Peak, Mount Howard Douglas & Massive Peak
Castle Mountain from a rest stop north of Castle Junction
Castle Mountain from a rest stop north of Castle Junction
A kayaker on the Bow River with the Rocky Mountains (Mount Yamnuska)
A kayaker on the Bow River with the Rocky Mountains (Mount Yamnuska)
Sunrise over the Bow River
Sunrise over the Bow River
Sunrise over the Bow River & the Rockies
Sunrise over the Bow River & the Rockies