© 2011 jemma

Jasper

Our Jasper adventure began with a drive. A drive to Jasper itself, all the way from Lake Louise. It would take us about three hours or more and we had half a tank of petrol. Lucky our awesome Ford Fusion which began with 21 km and ended up with almost 4000km by the end was efficient enough for us to make it the whole distance. Lucky, because there wasn’t any petrol on the Ice Fields Parkway.

We had read about, been told about and probably dreamt about what we would see on this pathway. It was going to be one of the best drives we would do in the Canadian Rockies. It began with us freaking out about the petrol situation, and ended with us making it the entire distance. We saw glacier after glacier. Mostly what they call hanging glaciers. Some were HUGE and some were not so huge, but all were equally as impressive as the next.

The mountains were amazing, breathtaking and yet all different. Some were covered with ice falls and some were covered in avalanches. One had even crossed the road a few days before we came along. I am amazed at their power.

The best thing we saw however would have to be the Columbia ice fields. It is like driving through another world. Suddenly the road is ice. On either side of you is ice. The wind is ice…cy and in front of you, all you can see is an ocean of ice flowing (well its frozen but it looks like it is flowing) through a valley, with nothing living on either side. Incredible. It is like you are standing on the surface of an ice planet.

From there the road winds through the mountains towards the town of Jasper. The weirdest thing being that the snow was melting, or melted in most places unlike Banff and Lake Louise. We had finally reached spring. We were all very excited!!

The next day was Saturday. We had the whole weekend to explore the beauty that surrounded us. Jess wanted to move to Jasper pretty much on the spot.

Our first stop was Pyramid Lake, which is named after a mountain which coincidently, is shaped like a pyramid. Like most of the lakes we had seen so far, Pyramid lake was frozen and the small village itself was closed for the season. All this though, didn’t stop how beautiful it was. We even explored pyramid island, a small place accessed by a bridge. Although at this time of the year it is not needed so much as you can just walk over the ice. We wanted to see a bear, but alas there were none.

From Pyramid Lake we wanted to go to Maligne Lake and Canyon. We followed the road…a road… pretty much the road we thought we were meant to go on, and went an hour in the wrong direction. That’s right, we were heading to Edmonton. Before we realised the mistake (The GPS’, not ours) we had seen Athabasca Lake, big horned sheep on the road, an old homestead and a place called Pocahontas. We stopped for lunch in old Poca, which was the name of an old mining town, and went for a hike to the falls. Instead of making it to the falls, we realised the path was far to dangerous to be walked and turned back. Lunch was good though, and we could go in the old vault they used…creepy!

We then retraced our steps and found the correct road to the canyon. There were signs everywhere telling us to watch out for caribou, although we didn’t see any. Unfortunately, they are a dying breed in Jasper, and only six have been seen in the park in the last 4 years. From 600. We did however see deer and elk hanging out.

We got to the canyon, and didn’t know exactly what we would see. We walked (slided in some cases) down the path (of icy doom) to Bridge number 2. It was incredible. A rapid that is frozen the whole way down, waterfalls and all. We walked all the way down towards the bottom of the canyon, and saw so many of the amazing frozen waterfalls. How on earth can water freeze like that?

It was down the bottom of the canyon that we saw a way of being able to walk onto the frozen river. Usually they run tours or Ice walks, along the frozen Maligne canyon, however to save $70, Jess and I eagerly clambered down the slippery surface, to the second slippery surface. Chontelle on the other hand went to find another more suitable location to come down and join us. Probably the safest option.

We walked, Jess and I – by this stage Chon was lost and had to fend for herself – around the frozen falls, to a point where we were comfortable with. We talked to others down there to ask of we were in fact allowed to be doing this and they assured us it was ok. They also recommended we use cramp-ons, which we swiftly ignored. They told us of a mystical cavern (probably just a regular one) up further that we must see, so we went back to find Chonny, who we had indeed lost. We called and called and convinced ourselves that she was alive, and walked all the way up the hill to the car, only to find… no one.

Jess waited while I called and walked all the way back down again – running. On my return, I saw Chon calmly waiting on the seat and Jess oblivious to her whereabouts. Reconnected, we continued our adventure to Maligne Lake. One of the most photographed lakes in the world. And I’m sure it is…in summer time. It is ok. Frozen and white and unpopulated. We had seen so many by now, I will leave it at that. Wearily we returned to base for the evening.

Next morning Jess and I went for a jog. A great way to start the day. Plus it was cold and grey, who could ask for more. We began the day by driving out to the Fairmont in Jasper – this time based on a hunting lodge, with subsequent lodges surrounding it. It was nice. Jess said he would like to stay there, I said maybe when we are 60.

We then went back to Maligne Canyon, with backpack and picnic, ready to defeat the ice canyon – no cleats needed.

It began well. Chon showed us where she had gone down on the ice the previous day and I will admit it was a hell of a lot safer. We slipped and slid our way through crevices and across the ice to get to the waterfalls. They are amazing. Especially up close, and especially if water is flowing through the ice.

We explored, and Jess nearly broke his leg trying to climb up some ice. We clambered over ice ledges towards to cavern. It was the most incredible thing I have ever seen. We stood – well crouched – behind a frozen waterfall. Not a small waterfall either. You could see and touch every watery detail. Amazing.

We wanted to go further, however to get there we would have needed gumboots. Jess piggy backed me a little ways – because my shoes are lower, not because I’m weak, – but it was to no avail. The ice was melting, and to be honest, the water was cold and I didn’t want to swim. We went back and ate our picnic on the river bank. Oh, I should mention that we made our own path back, following the river, which included some difficult climbing down waterfall manoeuvres, which in hindsight may have not been wise, but was fun all the same.

We then drove an hour out to Mt Robson, the highest peak in the rockies!! We were so excited, and when we got there it was so cloudy and you could not see the top. I guess it doesn’t help when it is so high it creates its own weather systems. So we drove all the way back again.

So that concludes our Jasper weekend.

The next day we drove all the way to Kamloops for the night, and then on to Vancouver. For the record, Jess and I have spent 3 nights in Kamloops and he hates it. I have chosen a picture of Helmcken Falls for this blog. It is nowhere near Jasper, but in Wells Grey provincial Park on the way to Kamloops. I just thought it deserved a mention.

Ciao 🙂