Not sure whether the Canadian Rockies house more glaciers or waterfalls, but today we walked along one of the more spectacular examples of the latter: Athabasca Falls. Yes, the falls share the same name as the glacier we walked on previously. The name comes from the Cree, one of the largest groups of First Nations People in North America, meaning “grain or reed here and there.”
The falls were formed as the glacier receded from the area now known as Jasper National Park. The falls are currently fed by the runoff that continues off the Columbia Icefield.
Side Bar: Indulge me please for once again my research on a subject has taken me to a whole world of waterfall classification that I never knew existed. There are many ways to categorize a waterfall, the most obvious being by shape. For example:
PLUNGE: :As its description implies these waterfalls fall more or less straight down from a very high starting point. Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park:
BLOCK: Also called RECTANGULAR, for its shape as it cascades over a long depth, such as Bow Falls:
TIERED; Mamy streams, as it evidenced by this waterfall we passed on the road to Banff – not sure of its name:
Many waterfalls, such as the unnamed above, as well as Athabasca Falls, have combinations of these shapes,, so there is a more definitive classification based upon the volume and force of the water itself as it falls. This logarithmic scale is quite complicated, but this is what it looks like:
Based on this, the Athabasca Falls are considered Class 5 waterfall for its immense water flow power and volume due to the glacial water forcefully passing through a narrow gorge.
Interestingly, the tremendous force of the water creates, what is, in my neighborhood a scourge and a destroyer of car tires – the pothole.