Secker Goes Globetrotting
2nd Jul 2012 - 3rd Jul 2012
The road to Jasper was paved with Bears, Elk, Mountains Lakes & Glaciers
Firstly, I'm sorry for the short hiatus from updating my blog. I just got behind in the last month of my travels and it's now been a month since I touched down at Heathrow and apart from being a wee bit busy adjusting to being home has also been challenging. I am hoping to plough on with the blog and get up to date as soon as possible. Thanks for your patience. Or in some cases impatience (*cough *cough Mum).
And the blog continues...
Another early start today! My alarm was set for 5.55am (to allow for a small snooze while B used the bathroom) but alas at 5.53 I was awake. Robbed of 2 minutes sleep. Gah!
I'd offered to drive for at least the first leg of the journey and off towards Jasper we went. Just after Lake Louise, we joined Highway 93, renamed the rather romantic ice fields parkway. We were already impressed with Banff but as the scenery unfolded we were overwhelmed with beautiful sights. Shame that it was raining and a bit cloudy but it showed a different shade of the mountains I guess. In the sunshine they would be breathtaking beyond belief. We decided to leave the scenic stops for the way back as we wanted to get to Jasper at a good enough time to see the town and do the tramway/cable car.
We were driving relatively early in the morning and there were barely any other cars on the road. Highway 93 is known for wildlife spotting so I suggested we make a game of it. The values went something like this:
Goat or sheep = 1 point
Elk or deer = 3 points
Medium or small Bear = 5 pints
Big bear = 8 points
Moose = 10 points
I was at a disadvantage being the driver so we made it a game over the 2 days.
It was still quite early in the morning and so we weren't sharing the road with anyone. All of a sudden we saw a bear. A medium ish (to be honest ive not seen a big bear so I can't compare but it looked medium sized) chewing away on some bushes by the side of the road. It came up so quickly I didn't have time to react and it was also such a surprise that he was there we all agreed to carry on. In hindsight I should have gone back.
We were excited that we might see some more now.
This one is debatable. All of a sudden mum shouts out that she saw a bear. None of us saw it. She said it was a brown face in the trees. Well, so far on that journey I'd seen what looked like bears but were logs (bear logs), moose (moose logs) and well more logs that looked like they MIGHT have been a 10 point animal. They're a bit like logodiles that I saw in Borneo and Australia (logs that look like crocs!).
Thing is, my mum is a terrible liar and is pretty darn honest so we decided to award her the points. If it had been my dad, no chance he would have unanimously been awarded those points!
Next sighting were mountain goats. Not as exciting as bears. But we did see some deer. Dad got those points.
We did have a quick stop for a photo opportunity over the valley we'd just come through.
The closer we got to Jasper, the more we could see of the Glaciers that make up the Columbia Icefield. Totally awesome.
We pushed on to Jasper, I'd continued to drive but the last half hour was really hard. Window down was the only thing I could do to stop the eyes from drooping. Completely my own choice though, dad had offered but at the time I didn't feel tired.
Late morning, we made it to the jasper tramway. This cable car took us high up into the mountains and we were provided with an aerial view of the Jasper township as well as the surrounding mountain ranges. The cloud was still a bit low but we could still see plenty to be impressed. Once at the top, there is the option to walk further up to get more of a 360 view. Dad opted out, mum and Brenda went a little way but I wanted to go to the top. It's the sort of steep hill walking I'd been doing in NZ and was keen to get the juices flowing. Oh how I underestimated how steep it was and how much my fitness had taken a nose dive in the last two weeks. It was pretty hard going and I'd also underestimated the altitude. On my second rest stop - not even half way up, it hit me and I had to sit for a while and catch my breath. And then there was the biting wind and rain the higher up I went. I made it to the top and the views were amazing.
I met the others in the warmth of the cafe and tucked into some soup. Yum, just what I needed.
We carried on into Jasper, once we'd returned down in the cable car. Which none of us really enjoy that much, but none of us would miss the views so what can you do?!
We pulled up to yhr hotel and mum and I jumped out to check in and sort out where to park the car. The receptionist couldn't seem to find us in the booking system and I said well I booked through hotels.com if that helps. She asked what the name was again and this flicker of something went over her face and I realised what I'd done. Sure enough, she said oh I wonder if that's the booking for yesterday. Something made me think it was and sure enough the email confirmation said the day before. Oh dear lord what was I going to tell the others?! For some reason I just thought it was not the 2nd July. They Gave us a bit of a discount on the rooms for that night which was nice of them. I wondered how I managed to get around the world...as did the rest of the party I'm sure. Absolutely annoyed at myself we checked in and everyone was very nice about my expensive mistake, which in a way made me feel worse. We went for a wander into Jasper. We were on the look out for the official shop of the Mountie police, having double checked their website to see where the stores were so B could get something for someone back home. We couldn't find it. We found the building it was supposed to be in but the shop was something totally different. We asked and it turns out the shop shut a few years back. Helpful up to date website that is!
Thoroughly disappointed, we did a trawl of some souvenir shops and then got a drink in a very shady looking place where you got the feeling, if ya weren't a local then you shouldn't be there!
We found a slightly upmarket place for drink 2 and were that impressed we went back for dinner later. I'm glad we did, it was delicious. Possibly even better than last weeks pie. I had lamb shank which was probably the largest lamb leg I've ever seen. There was just so much meat!!! Tender and juicy and delicious....I'm practically salivating thinking about it!
To accompany dinner, dad and I shared a bottle of his fave red wine so after a large helping of good food and good wine we all needed a stroll after dinner.
On display in the town is a steam train from the 1920s so we went to have a look at that. Inadvertently we also ended up in shops because they were open (Dad was of course overjoyed that mum had the opportunity to spend more money!).
We ended up back at the hotel at around 10 but it was still pretty light out given the really long summer days so it didn't feel right to go to bed even though we were all tired and had a pretty early start again tomorrow. So we had a night cap.
We were on the road again in Tuesday by 8. Something I really wanted to do was do a hike on Athabasca Glacier which was about half way back to Banff from Jasper.
Bearing in mind I got the dates for the hotel mixed up, I also booked this trip for the wrong day so I had to pay for it twice. Anyway I could still go and the adults were going to do a slightly less vigorous trip onto the glacier by bus. Dad would have loved to have done the full walk but his knee wouldn't have liked it.
Just as we were heading out of Jasper, we saw a camper can stopped randomly by the side of the road so we pulled over and saw that there were two Elk grazing happily by the side of the road. It was early so the road was pretty empty so we had plenty of space to get a good photo. The one in front was almost posing for us, getting up and stretching out so we could see it in all it's long horned glory. Simply beautiful. The weather started out great but as we headed into the valley, towards the glacier the rain clouds descended.
We made it just in time for my walk to start. After a quick dash from the visitor centre to where it started as we were just on time. Dad left me there to collect me again in a few hours. Thankfully they provided waterproofs as it was still raining and nice that this time I wasn't forced to wear a huge red waist bag.
Having never seen, let alone climb a glacier - here i was climbing my second in as many months! Exciting! Apart from the rain. No chopper this time, this one we can just walk onto.
The lower level was a bit grey and dirty from the snow but once we got further up onto the ice we could see the ice blue glaciers are known for. This part of the glacier is less aggressive than Franz Josef so it was more of a shallow gradient to the climb and no crevasses at all or small holes (phew!). The upper level which would be a full days hike is apparently more like what I had seen at Franz. Our tour guide was actually an Aussie who for the lat couple of years had been leading tours on Franz Josef. We swapped notes of course.
I collected some Fresh water from some of the streams (the adults were all very impressed with how clean and crisp it was when I passed it around later!) and we got the chance to look at various holes from a safe distance. I didn't drop any water bottles into it this time though!
She also pointed out snow covered holes, which are incredibly dangerous and we needed to avoid those while out on the glacier because they often cover deep holes and well you can guess the rest.
This glacier walk was a different type of experience to that which I had in NZ. I still really enjoyed it, it was just different. And have I mentioned the rain that soaked me through and made me very cold?
Thankfully some very thoughtful parents had bought me a hot chocolate, a tuna sandwich and put the seat warmer in the car on for me.
We stopped off at some scenic viewpoints on our way back to "home". Two lovely aquamarine lakes which had the sun been shining would have been a stunning colour, even in the grey weather they were lovely to look at. As it had been raining for the past couple of days the surrounding mountains were streaming with waterfalls which added to the already magnificent scenery!
We came across a bunch of cars stopped by the side of the road so we pulled over to see what the attraction was and sure enough there was what I would say is a small bear idly walking along the side of the road. Dad and I hopped out and went for a closer look with everyone else. We should really have thought before doing that because mum bear probably wasn't too far away!
The Jasper trip was an absolute highlight of Canada and my whole trip. Lots of beautiful scenery and wildlife plus my new obsession of Glaciers aplenty.
After two very long days of driving and excitement We were all a bit knackered. Plus tomorrow was going to be the biggest day of the holiday yet...
P.s. in the "what words can did mispronounce" stakes, today's best was "wellycopter"
|2285 Words | This page has been read 13 times||View Printable Version|