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Nunatak at Highwood Pass

A cache by tbladvisors Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 07/28/2010
1 out of 5
1 out of 5

Size: Size: other (other)

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Geocache Description:

Please note the seasonal closure of Hwy 40 between December 1 and June 15. This makes the Highwood Pass and this EarthCache inaccessible during that time.

Nunatak (from Inuit nunataq) is a word that has been used in western European languages since the 1870s.

Nunatak [Inuktitut, "lonely peak"], is a MOUNTAIN rising above the large continental ice sheets and not covered by the glaciers or snow. Nunataks were first described from Greenland but also occur in Antarctica and Canada. The term is also used for any nonglaciated area, highland or lowland, which was surrounded by GLACIER ice. Such nunataks may have been biological refugia where plants and animals survived QuaternaryGLACIATION and from which they dispersed as the glaciers melted. Lifeforms on nunataks are frequently isolated by the surrounding ice or glacier creating unique habitats. This controversial "nunatak hypothesis" was developed to explain strange biotic distributions in Canada and Scandinavia.The bedrock knob rises above the surrounding glaciated area and may resemble a horn because both are too steep on the sides to support ice. They are generally angular and contrast with the surrounding areas that were effected by the glaciers.

GZ is the Highwood Pass parking lot from which the Nunatak can be easily viewed. You have come this far so take some time and stroll the marked trail at the north end of the parking lot and proceed to the viewpoint at N 50 35.918 W 114 59.410. This is where the plaque that is shown in the picture below is situated. The trail also has other plaques describing the surrounding fauna and other interesting facts about the area. Besides it is the only way to determine the answer to question 2 below.

The Highwood Pass at 2,230 meters (7,316 feet) is the highest paved road in Canada. Mount Rae, at 3,223 meters (10,574 feet) was named by John Palliser after Dr. Rae, the famed Artic explorer who determined the fate of John Franklin's fateful mission . It is neither a striking or beautiful mountain but very popular with hikers and climbers as it is one of the highest peaks in the Park.

While in the area take a stroll or a hike the many marked trails and enjoy this most spectacular area in the Rocky Mountains. Please note that this area is very sensitive to activities and hikers must stay on the designated trails. In granting permission for this earthcache, Alberta Tourism, Parks, Recreation requested that geocachers stay on the designated trails and that no items are to be removed or left at the site. There are numerous designated trails so there is no reason to stray off into the surrounding area.

Cachers should take advantage of the Information Centres that are located in the Park at The Barrier Lake Visitor Center on the north end of Highway 40, Peter Lougheed Visitor Center on the Kananaskis Lakes Trail and the Elbow Valley Visitor Center on Highway 66 just west of Bragg Creek town site. Contact numbers for these are at

To log this cache:

1)Email the owner with an estimate of the elevation gain from the parking area to the summit of the Nunatak.

2) Email the owner with a description of the construction of the trail to the placard shown above.

3) Post a photo of your GPSr with the Nunatak in the background if you can. Not required!

4) Email the owner with a comment on how the material below the Nunatak differs from the Nunatak.

Thanks and Enjoy

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