Day 08: Majestic Canadian Rockies

We awoke to bright and sunny skies, which was a real treat so we’d be able to see the Rockies upon approach.  Because we had arrived to Edmonton under dark and rainy conditions we decided to tool around up and down the sleepy Sunday morning streets of downtown before driving out to the West Edmonton Mall on our way out of town.  At 110 acres it is the largest mall in the world and includes a humungous waterpark and ice-skating rink.  I think with that much room it would have been fun to put in a Bison Loop and if they took out the store redundancies there would be plenty of room.

Hello, Rockies!

Hello, Rockies!

Eventually we made it out of Edmonton on the Trans-Canada #16 (TC16) west and proceeded to the main event:  mountains.  The 4 hour drive was pretty, with rolling hills of forests before *BAM* there they were:  Canadian Rockies.

We entered Jasper National Park gates and prepared to be moosing, bearing, bighornsheeping, elking, deering, and peeping for almost a week.  We had our work cut out for us.

Soon we turned south off TC16 to take the 17km dead end road, which had the distinction of being the curviest road since we’d entered Canada, to Miette Hot Springs.  At the Hot Springs you can go into a giant pool full of the natural mineral water.  Jim, however, announced defiantly several times that he had no intentions of getting wet.  Ok, fine, but I wanted to see what was down there.

Falls? What falls?

Falls? What falls?

Our first stop was to Punch Bowl Falls where, oddly, the short path to the falls viewing point led to a wall of trees.  And the green kinds that have no leaves.  We listened to the falls for a moment before moving on.

Our next stop was at the Ashlar Ridge viewpoint, where we oohed and aahed a bit before continuing on to the end of the road.  While Jim held steadfast to his staying dry rule, we did park in the big lot and wandered down to the headwaters of the sulphur springs.  When we got back to the parking lot there were 2 bighorn sheep loitering around.  No one else seemed to be batting an eye that they were there.  Man, where do you live where this is normal?

Hanging out, parking themselves

Hanging out, parking themselves

As it was getting later in the afternoon we pressed on via the incredibly gorgeous TC16 to the townsite of Jasper (past more bighorn sheep) and our accommodations, the Bear Hill Lodge.  We were going to be staying in a cabin, ready to camp again in our big wooden tent with kitchenette and full-service bathroom.  But wait, before we could get there we were side-tracked by not one, but TWO elk alongside the road.  We were officially in large ungulate country.  As an aside, later at dinner the waitress said she was walking home the other night (downtown Jasper) and an elk was walking down the sidewalk toward her.  Lucky!  And as an aside aside, the proprietor at the Bear Hill Lodge said last week a bear came walking through between the cabins.  Um, yes, please!

It took no time at all for us to settle into the cabin before we headed to town for dinner at Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria.  Dinner was delicious and then we came back to the cabin to plan and plot our strategy for the next day.  And if today’s brief introduction to Jasper was any indication, we would need our cameras at the ready.


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