Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Jasper: Trail Ride, Hike, Bike until you see a bear, then take a boat.

Spirit Island, Maligne Lake, Jasper, BC.

Yesterday I took a 3 hour trail ride around the Pyramid Lakes just a few kilometres north of the Jasper townsite. It was delightful and I am not even sore today. That could be because I had a self-driving horse who walked perfectly behind the leader.  My participation in directing the horse was not required.

Today the sun was out again which was lucky for me!

I walked the short loop along the Valley of the Five Lakes which is about 7 km south of Jasper along the Highway 93 Icefields Parkway.  This was a low effort, high reward experience.

After lunch I hopped on my bike to travel along some of the lakes found just south of town.  This was all fine and dandy until while biking on a short section of road, after having been on a trail, I see a rather large brown or black bear emerge from a trail I was about to go on and amble across the road. It was about 50 m ahead of me.  This is all well and good when in the truck but NOT when I am on a bike. I had actually just pulled to the side of the road to consult the map.  That was fortuitous otherwise I would have been greeting Mr. Bear as he crossed the road. No thank you.  After that I rode with my whistle in my mouth cheerfully blowing it every 10 metres.  I felt like a nerd but was not interested in any more bear encounters - no matter how minor.

In the later afternoon I headed 50 kilometres out of town to Maligne Lake.  Yes, 50 kms down a paved yet somewhat slow road.  This is good to know when you pay a fortune for a photographers boat tour that departs at precisely 4:30 pm.  At 3:20 pm I noticed the website said, "Give yourself 1 - 1 1/2 hours to drive here".  Oops!  Well, I made it there by 4:05 pm so all was well.

Tomorrow it is time to go home so here are the shots from yesterday and today.

Mt. Edith Cavell, the now broken Angel Glacier.  This was the only shot that I salvaged from Facebook as I deleted all of the photos off my iPhone in a hurry the morning I went trail riding without checking to see if I had downloaded them all first. Dummy.

I see some sun!

Valley of the Five Lakes - Lake #1

Lake #2

Lake #3

Lake #5

Cycling along the Athabasca River. 

Remember that bear?  It crossed the road right were the blue car is. . .. 

So, now I'm biking like this.  Nice. 

Lots of cute accommodation in Jasper.  

Trying to drive nicely as I rush to Maligne Lake. 

And, we are off. 

The docks on the edge of the lake that allow you to look at Spirit Island. Regular tours stop here for a very well-time 15 minutes.  Ours stayed for 1 hour. 

A nice little herd of Elk grazing in the campground. 

Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Icefields Parkway - Highway 93 Lake Louise to Jasper

Blue skies, mountains and fake looking lakes all day long. 

It has been 17 years since I have been down the Icefields Parkway.  In 2000, it was as a teacher supervisor with an Outdoor Ed class on bicycles. I can't believe we biked this route! I must have had my head down the entire time because I have little recollection of the stunning beauty of this place.

I hit as many pull-outs as humanly possible with the Gypsy Wagon.  Note to self: Sunwapta Falls is not a friend of the Gypsy Wagon. Nothing like driving along with cars parked on both sides of the single-lane road while tourists jump out from between them at every turn. Made it out of there without banging into anyone and without seeing the falls. Oh well, that is the way it is when choosing to tow a trailer along this route.

My campsite for the night was at the Pocahontas Campground about 40 kms east of Jasper.  I expected this to be home for the next three nights. Sadly, there was no cell service and not a lot of trails to hike here. The helpful check-in clerk at the campsite swiftly re-jigged my reservations and found me three nights in the Whistlers Campground right outside of Jasper with full hook-up starting the next day. Someone must have cancelled. My lucky day.

Remember the 'forgetting to fill up when Mr. Thirsty is alone'?  Yes, here I am in another tight squeeze at the gas pumps. This one wasn't all that bad.

Herbert Lake, 6 km up the Parkway.  Reasonable parking for an RV if you are early in the day. If the lot was full pulling a U-turn might not happen.  There was an early morning lap swimmer in the middle of the lake. Brave!

Here we go. More mountains than I knew what to do with.

This might be Hector Lake looking at the Waputik Icefield?

Same place, different angle. 

Still at Hector Lake, just a kilometre down the road. 

Peyto Lake is not RV friendly at all; however, you can turn around and get out again. Sometimes you just have to make your own parking on the side of the access road. 

Peyto Lake. 
In case you thought I was all alone at Peyto Lake, this is what you have to patiently wade through to get to the railing. Lots of happy tourists. 

Ah, my dual-cam weight distribution/sway control doing its job.  When turning the bar pops out of the holder to allow the bar to shorten. As the truck and trailer straighten again the bar pops back into the holder. Nice!  Here I am parked with a slight twist. 

Mistaya Lake and Aries Mt. at 90 km/hr. 

Parker Ridge Parking lot with the Saskatchewan Glacier in the background. I was supposed to stop here to hike for 2 hours but this was not a fit for the Gypsy Wagon. The pull out was full. Onward!

Hanging out at the Athabasca Glacier with the Gypsy Wagon 'cause we are fancy like that.

Around the corner is the Columbia Icefields Centre.  The Athabasca Glacier is in the centre. It used to reach the highway but is receding at an alarming rate over the last 100-150 years. You can walk, a long ways now, up to the foot of the glacier for free or pay dearly to ride a big wheeled bus right out on to the surface of the glacier.  I thought the view from here was mighty fine. 

Click above to see a video of the Columbia Icefields' Glaciers. I am rambling on about how many people there are and how expensive it is to ride a bus on to the glacier which is just a big hunk of ice.

A new money grab. There is a large glass walkway protruding from the highway about 2-3 kilometres north of the Icefields Visitor Centre. I am not sure what they are seeing that I am not seeing. You cannot see the glacier from here. What an eyesore.

Ah, back to the mountains. 

Another pull out for another glacier that I cannot remember the name of.  I am becoming a pro at crossing lanes of traffic to get back on the highway. Driving north to south makes the pull outs much easier. Oh well. I think this was Stutfield Mountain. Huge banks of hanging snow across the valley. A happy RV stop. 

Athabasca Falls. 

Click above to see Athabasca Falls. 

Back on the happy highway travelling east of Jasper towards the Pocahontas Campground. 

I landed one of the bigger sites in this park.  It is on a hill side in very dense forest.

No Service. Me no likey. When you travel alone - having cell signal is reassuring. And, gives me something to do after touring.