Last night’s nature was a qualified success: we weren’t attacked by bears and missed out on the elk, but we saw both the white-tailed and mule deer. We also enjoyed the company of a completely obsessed juvenile black bear, who refused to be distracted from his dandelions and cheerfully crossed the road behind us to forage on the other side. The hit of the evening were the ground squirrels, who sat up goggling – at the coyote who had decided on taking a couple for an early supper.

The bonus, making up for the lack of moose, was the scenery around Medicine Lake and Maligne Lake. The contrasts in even thirty minutes of driving was surprising and the swift river was a constant companion.

I’m writing this on the bus to Lake Louise, a trip that has turned out to be fantastic value. Not only do we have a jovial driver who is a Jasper local, but we stop regularly on the way to the Columbia Icefields.

We walked in to town to get muffins and coffee for breakfast before boarding the bus. A motley collection, mainly from the Commonwealth, got on.

First stop was the Athasbaska Falls, which shook the ground but – as the sun started to come out – provided some spectacular pictures. The whole area was about five degrees colder than the surrounds, cooled by the spray from the freezing river. We would follow the Athabaska almost to its source, at the toe of the glacier.

We traveled along, with David’s dry and informative commentary captioning the steadily rising mountains. None are as impressive as Mt Robson, at the north of the park, which is well over fourteen thousand feet, but the height rose to ten thousand and, by the end of the trip, we would climb up to nine.

Mt Edith Cavell rose on our left, named in 1916 amidst the popular revulsion after her execution. According to David, there is a mountain named for her on six continents – bizarre! And facing it is another mountain named after a Canadian VC executed in the Second World War, something to do with a ferry called the Brussels? This will need googling!

Endless Chain range rose opposite Winston Churchill on our right – the previous night we has been on the other side of Endless Chain at Maligne Lake. We drove up through amazing scenery and beside the river, stopping occasionally to marvel, until we arrived at the twin glaciers: Athabasca and Dome, site of the Glacier Centre.

The Centre is part of a massive operation. It’s only open six months a year (it’s minus 40 to 60 degrees in winter) and is very high tech. Coaches run you across the highway and up the side of the mountain over the morane until one gets to the terminal. Brewsters have 23 ice buses that set them back over a million each – top speed 12 km/h but capable of climbing the 35 degree incline up to the glacier. We had a unique chance to stand on the ice-field above the glacier in the sunshine, but we weren’t quite ready for the chill off the peaks.

Dome Mountain is a triple watershed: according to David, it’s the only place in the world where you can pee and pollute three oceans. Four major and a number of minor glaciers come off the ice-field, but there are hundreds of glaciers in the Northern Rockies. The Athabaska is not as old as one might think: there were forests on the slopes only 8,000 years ago. Yet the whole area is basically wilderness and looks primordial.

Next stop was Lake Peyto and its turquoise glacier lake, complete with generic film crew. It had to be a beer commercial. Bow Lake and Bow Glacier, Crowfoot Glacier, all followed as we came down the last kilometres to Lake Louise. We farewelled the bus and walked into our slightly rustic but very picturesque Deer Lodge. It’s not the Fairmont, but we’re not on Getaway!

It has been an extraordinary day, the most scenic in many days of travel.