Taking a walk in the Park

Yet another day in Canada’s finest of parks: Jasper National Park. The brochures describe it as the gentle giant. Next to Banff NP it is larger but also a little less developed and more “rustic”. Which means there are less signs, less described trails and, unfortunately, less bears.
Today though, we did see one black bear, which is quite a rarity as the population is much smaller compared to Banff NP, where encounters occur that often in order for very strict bear-rules to apply to hikers on trails: there are numerous trails where hiking in groups of 4 is mandatory!

We started this day off with a drive over highway 93a, the old version of 93, towards highway 16 to get to the road which would take us to Maligne Lake. This meant driving about 30 kilometres over a road which is commonly used by all kinds of game, including elk, bears, mule deer and the likes. Before you reach Maligne Lake, you pass Medicine Lake. This is a little smaller and is only an overflow to the Maligne River; with small amounts of water flowing through the river the lake ‘disappears’ to a stream.

At Maligne Lake, we took a hike to several other tiny lakes (Loraine Lake, Mona Lake) somewhere on the forest, which was a great way to start off. A lovely walk!
After this, we drove to Maligne Canyon to check out the awfully narrow gorge in which the river flows. It is at parts over 30 metres deep and mostly about 5 to 20 metres wide. A really weird gorge to see, but very picturesk!

With those activities done, and having walked about 8 kilometres over rough terrain, we were pretty knackered but dedicated to go see the next highlight: Edith Cavell Mountain. This is a huge 3.5 km mountain with a glaciers at its base. You can even walk up to it and experience the glacier and the melt lake for yourself. This added another 2 km to our itinerary, and made a total of 10km on foot. Wow.

Tomorrow, we are off to Clearwater and Wells Gray Provincial Park, but first: sleep!


A very scenic drive

Driving from Banff to Jasper is a treat. First off, we started on the highway 1a again, like the days before. This time, the catch wasn’t as grand as before, but every animal you encounter is by chance anyway. Our luck probably was completely used up by then. 🙂

Arriving at the end of highway 1a you encounter Lake Louise, after which the most scenic route of all scenic routes starts: Icefields Parkway, or highway 93.
This highway was specially constructed to offer the best views on the mountains in the Rockies as possible and I can safely say, they have succeeded in doing just that. What an amazing drive!

It lasts for about 230 kilometres and is usually a 4 lane divided highway so the drive is pretty easy, yet still the road winds and curves through the small valley between two mountain ranges. (I don’t remember which ones though…)
Halfway through the road, at about 105 km from Jasper, the Columbia Icefield Experience can be found. This is a company offering you a busdrive to and on the Athabasca glacier, at the lowest point of the Columbia Icefields. These fields stretch for about 325 square kilometres, and are thus really really big by any standards. The tickets to the glacier will not come cheap, but the drive and the experience both are really great! We have had a blast, on quite possibly the best day to go. The day before, it rained cats and dogs, and the week before that it even snowed up there!

Of course did we stop frequently while driving on the highway to take pictures of all awesomeness on display, and the most notable stops include: Bow Glacier Lake, Peyto Lake and Sunwapta Falls. All three include a short or a little longer hike from the road to the location of our interest. All really worth the time!