We have had a PACKED three and a half days in Jasper National Park in Alberta Canada! Let’s get straight to the fun!
On day one, we pulled into the campground, got out of the truck to go in to register, and the first sound to greet us was an elk bugling! September and October are the elk rut, and there were elk all over the campground with the males not shy about making their presence (and intentions) known. It was so cool to hear them calling out throughout our stay. The males can get a little grumpy, though, and there had been several instances right before our arrival of them using their antlers to make holes in vehicles that mistakenly got between them and their females, so we were sure to keep our distance! We were pretty excited to be here, so after getting set up in our site, we headed right back out to hit the visitor center and then drive to nearby Lakes Edith and Annette for a short walk before it got dark!
Day two took us on a hike to Cavell Meadows in the Mount Edith Cavell area of the park. It was a narrow, twisty road to get there, and the hike was no walk in the park, but it was totally worth it. The views we had all along the way of the mountains, Angel Glacier, and the lake at the bottom were stunning! We also saw a couple of pikas along the way which can be a rare sight. These guys didn’t seem as skittish as the few others we have seen in the past, though, so they must be pretty accustomed to seeing people. It has been quite a while since we have done much hiking, and some areas of this trail are pretty steep, so it was a challenge, but it felt great to get back on the trail!
On day three, we chose yet another challenging hike. This time we drove 64 miles down the stunning Icefields Parkway to the Wilcox Pass trail. This trail felt like three hikes in one. The first section passed through a thick forest with a muddy trail full of tree roots to trip and slip on. Then, it opened into a rocky alpine area that took us to the top of the pass at 7,775 feet. Finally, a steep ascent took us to the top of Wilcox Ridge where there is a phenomenal view of the Columbia Icefield including Athabasca and Dome Glaciers, a meltwater pond, the Icefields Parkway, and more mountains than you can imagine. It is a truly spectacular place. It was also spectacularly windy and cold. It even snowed on our way up, so while we would have loved to spend hours taking in the view, we only spent a few minutes before we could no longer feel our hands and had to start back down!
By day four, after two days of such intense hiking, our legs were tired and an “easier” day was needed. So what did we do? Yep, we went hiking. It was definitely an easier day, but not what we would call an easy day. We opted for several shorter trails, but there were still obstacles and hills to conquer. Our main hike of the day was to Valley of Five Lakes, where we saw, you guessed it…five lakes. These are no ordinary lakes, though. They are stunning! We will never get used to seeing lakes with such vibrant colors, and it will certainly never get old! Then, we drove to the Miette area of the park where we took the short Pocahontas Mine Trail. We deviated a bit to an overlook of the valley, then enjoyed exploring the mine ruins along the lower trail. Finally, we took a really quick walk through Maligne Canyon. We stopped in the evening to avoid the crowds, and just hit the highlights since it was getting late. We have been to Maligne Canyon once before on a previous trip, so we don’t feel like we missed out too much by rushing through!
This Jasper visit has felt like a whirlwind! As we said, we have been to this park before so we thought four days would be adequate to allow us to see some new sights at a leisurely pace. As with most national parks we have visited, though, we left feeling like we could have stayed another week and it still wouldn’t be enough! For now, though, Banff is calling our names. Jasper…
Until next time!