Return to Jasper

Trip Start Jun 12, 2012
Trip End Oct 18, 2012

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Flag of Canada  , Alberta,
Monday, June 18, 2012

Howdy folks,

We got up at 8am from our last night sleeping in a proper bed in Edmonton to get ready and pack the car. After a smashing breakfast, we said our goodbyes and went in search of Julien, a French couch surfer. We picked him up at 10am and gathered our supplies before driving out towards Jasper. The road was much longer at 370kms than it takes from Calgary to Banff and the drive was through more lakes and trees than boring pastures. We decided to stop in Hinton to make some sandwiches for lunch which is just outside the National Park, which thankfully was not raining like some of the heavy downpours we encountered on the highway. From Hinton it was another hour to Miette Hot Springs which lies at the end of a 20km dead end road. Along the way we encountered a black bear eating dandelions on the side of the road and some scraggly looking big horn sheep in the car park. Keen to get out of the car, we got changed and soaked in the nice warm water surrounded by mountains. We even tried our luck in the plunge pool although I came out minus my testicles.

We stopped at a lookout and Punchbowl Falls on the way back to the highway before coming across half a dozen cars parked on the side of the highway. We saw two mountain goats right on the cliff next to the road which is very rare to see them so close. They were also scraggly looking because they were shedding their winter coats, but it was cool nonetheless. We wanted to reach our campground because we hadn't made a reservation and ended up arriving at 5:30pm. Thankfully, there were plenty of spots left as the campground has a massive 780 sites, but only one shower block in the middle! Exhausted from the day’s events, we set up camp, ate dinner and went to bed.

The next morning, we got up early and after breakfast we drove out to Maligne Lake Road to take in a few of the popular sights. We first stopped at a viewpoint that looked over the river valley and then at the popular Maligne Canyon. Even though this was the 3rd time I’ve been here I still learnt something new – the canyon is technically a gorge, just like Milford Sound is actually a fiord. There was so much water flowing through the gorge which was amazing to see and there was only one patch of ice left. We went as far as the 4th bridge and then hiked back up to the car. Next stop was Medicine Lake which was also pretty full compared to last time we saw it in November. There were even 2 pikas darting in and out of the boulders next to the car park.

After being held up by some more bighorn sheep, we eventually arrived at Maligne Lake – the largest in the Canadian Rockies. The water of course here was high and there were plenty of people about enjoying the views despite the inclement weather. Steffie left to go on her Spirit Island lake cruise, while Julien and I did the first section of the Skyline Trail to Lorraine and Mona Lakes which was quite nice. It was pretty short at 5kms and 1.5 hours, but it was good to stretch the legs and take in some scenery. We waited for Steffie to get back from the rainy/hail cruise before driving back into town.

We spent an hour in Jasper walking around downtown before heading up the Jasper Tramway to the top of Whistlers Mountain. It was super windy on the top with a little bit of hail, but we decided to hike to the summit anyway. It was pretty steep and we almost got there before the snowline held us back. There was a nice rainbow and eventually the view cleared enough for a few good shots.

By the time we got down it was 6pm and time to head back to camp and have a shower and get some grub. After dinner we played some cards and around 10pm as we were sitting there and typing this entry at the campsite, I watched 3 female elk running around and chasing each other in some sort of territorial dispute. They got pretty close to the campsite and we even thought about jumping in the car because they were pretty aggressive, but eventually they left and we got into bed.

Next stop Mt Robson, the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies!
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