First stop: the shower. After a quick pit stop, I went for a wander around the town. Jasper is tiny so it didn’t take long. There are lots of restaurants, hotels and tourist shops and that’s about it. The tourist shops have mostly the same stuff as every tourist shop in Canada with a few few books on the rockies thrown in for good measure. There are also more hippy things like stones and crystals. The town is surrounded by mountains so the view is stunning whichever way you turn. After a look around and some food, I had a good sleep ready for a busy day out.
I booked a tour from 9-1pm. The coach took us to Maligne Canyon, Medicine Lake and Maligne Lake with a commentary all the way. We were in bear country and all keen to see one, but it was not to be. Maligne Lake was still mostly frozen, but pretty and full of trout. I most enjoyed Medicine Lake. The mountains looked gorgeous behind the water with their reflections in the lake.
I got off the coach when we got back and went straight to the car hire place to pick up the car I had booked to drive through the Icefields Parkway and down to Lake Louise. It was a long drive, but totally worth it. The scenery was incredible and I kept stopping at look outs for yet another view. Each time I thought it couldn’t get any better, it did. The bright blue sky, green trees and mountains were just stunning, with lots of lakes on the way as well. The ice fields get around 7 metres of snow in the winter. Lots of it was gone, but there were still chunks around the edges and by the waters edge that were around a metre high with the water cutting through so I could see the layers in the ice. The climate seemed to change on the way. It was baking when I left Jasper, but it got cooler as I got further in to the drive. It was around 250km each way. After passing through the Columbia Icefields, the lakes had more ice in them and the mountains were almost covered with snow. I came at such a great time of year to see it all.
Lake Louise, I have to say, was the only let down. I had heard great things from a friend and it is billed as a beautiful place to visit. It was full of tourists, men in hi vis jackets directing traffic and just generally commercial. The beauty, silence and tranquility of my earlier hours was shattered. I stayed at the lake for around 2 minutes if that and hastily retreated.
Now, the route advertised bears, caribou and other wildlife. I drove all the way there and only saw a gathering of mountain goats. The mountain goats were pretty cool with huge curly horns, about 5 or 6 of the, up high at the sign of the road, but I was in the market for a bear. Luckily about 10 minutes from Lake Louise on the way back, I saw a load of cars stopped. I joined the hold up and got to see the cute little guy eating grass at the side of the road. He was bothered by the cars at all. On the road again, I was lucky and was first on scene to see two more. Then two moose crossed the road with little furry antlers, looking smaller than I thought they would be, but the antlers are still growing I think, and I later saw loads of elk without horns running around. All three bears I saw were relatively small and very soft and cuddly looking, next in my list is to see the mamma bears. The internet tells me a man was attacked by a mamma bear right by where I am staying on Thursday night in Squamish, so hopefully I will see some, but from the safety of the car!
My train is going to be super late picking me up, I can’t go far as they don’t have a close enough time estimate or I would have just booked a tour bus somewhere. I am just sitting in the sun with milkshake to read a bit. Then I must make some calls and see what I need to move that was booked in Vancouver.
As a side note, there are a weird amount of crows in Jasper.
The train eventually left Jasper at 830pm instead of 2pm. I had my dinner and managed to get a reasonable amount of sleep – I feel like I have mastered the way to train sleep. I was lucky to have two seats again.
Some inconsiderate idiot decided to start taking photos before 6am with the shutter sound on the camera not on silent. Eventually I went for a cup of tea expecting to find a place to read for the day. I met a nice Vancouverite to chat to, we chatted until the train got to Vancouver at 2ish. The journey went so quickly, it was great. He was to be one of very few friendly locals, as I quickly discovered on arrival that these are a whole different breed to the Torontonians I am used to.