Happy 150th Birthday to Canada’s National Parks! Generally when one celebrates a birthday, it’s customary for them to receive gifts. Canada however decided to gift the people and invite us all to enjoy their National Parks in 2017. With this amazing gift, a plan was created to visit Jasper National Park, Banff, and possibly Wateron before turning back West to Seattle.
Our trip would lead us a 12 day road trip, leaving Seattle and heading north to Bellingham, before crossing in to British Columbia on our way to Alberta before heading south to Montana and finally back home. On paper, we would drive 1,800 miles, in total we were well over 2,000 miles, all of which included a spunky 1-year-old in the back seat.
Arriving in Jasper, we had overcast skies. Far from the weather forecast that was calling for snow. We found our campsite in the Wapiti Campground and quickly got to work setting up the tent and preparing good. Because everyone knows a road trip and camping means you must eat every hour on the hour. We hung around camp as it was later in the afternoon, stretching our legs from the two continuous days of driving. We loved what we had seen so far just from driving and couldn’t wait to see what our first hike would bring.
Mt Edith Cavell is a popular destination, and for good reason, it’s gorgeous! You can right up close to the mountains, glaciers, and fields of wildflower. For us, in order to see this popular destination, we had to ensure a parking permit due to road and parking lot construction at the top. With a permit secured, we set off from the car under a very light drizzle of rain. This drizzle quickly progressed to snow flakes however as we ascended the paved path towards Cavell Pond.
Having our fill of the ponds beautiful blue hue, we took off and headed up higher to the meadows above. No wildflowers here, it was pure snow, and it was coming down in a some what heavy manner. We didn’t care though, the scenery and freshly falling snow lit up the landscape, giving us an experience that we could never forget, it was full on winter.
Ready to be warm, we descended back to the car, setting off for destination #2 of the day Maligne Lake. We weren’t entirely sure what we would see here, but the 40+ kilometer drive through the canyon was rather pretty and blue skies even appeared! We arrived at the lake and took a stroll down to its shore. People were all over and seemed to be congregating in one area. As we walked closer we saw why, a cow moose was busy eating away in the shallows of the lake! This is the first moose I’d ever seen in the wild, a cool site for sure. As we walked further, we discovered yet another moose, this time a bull as well! Being the smart guy I am, I left the camera in the car, so pictures are iPhone quality only.
Before leaving Maligne Lake, we nearly got to witness a Darwin Award in the making. A tourist decided he was better than everyone else who were carefully observing the moose from a far. He kept running closer and closer, past several “stay back signs”, camera in hand, trying to get that perfect “shot” of the moose. We all stared and watched for at least 10 minutes before he finally got to close and someone spoke up, telling him to back off before he got hurt.
Our 2nd day in Jasper, we headed out for the Sulphur Skyline trail, said to be the trail in Jasper with the best views. The trail itself was nothing to write home about as we hiked continuously up through trees and forest cover. However reaching the top, we were treated with 360 degree panoramic views of the Canadian Rockies directly in our faces. Unfortunately, due to high winds and biting temperatures, our stay here did not last long. Fitz got angry, most likely because he was cold and quickly told us it was time to descend back to the trees.
Off the mountain, it was time to check out our first hot springs, the Miette Hot Springs. Cassie and I were both excited for this experience, especially given the lower temperatures we were facing. However once we all were changed and dipped our toes, Fitz told us again that this wasn’t for him, leaving our stay in the springs rather brief. We couldn’t leave here though without snow flakes falling from the sky for the 2nd day in a row.
We had 3 nights total in Jasper starting on a Sunday. Wednesday morning, it was time to hit the road for Lake Louise. We had plans of getting up early so we could shop for groceries prior to leaving town. Generally packing up isn’t all that bad, but today, Mother Nature decided it was really going to snow! The snow in Jasper seemed to not want to quit, in fact it only got heavier (which also meant more wet) as the morning progressed. We packed up as quick as we could, hitting the road, stopping for a quick peak of Athabasca Falls, and continuing on to Lake Louise, not escaping the snow until just before arriving at our next destination.
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