With heads still reeling from the superb drive up the Icefields Parkway (see previous post), we safely arrived in Jasper.
Our research, many months ago, put us wise to the accommodation prices in Jasper. It makes sense really. The town is at one end of the spectacular Icefields Parkway and in the middle of Jasper National Park. Airbnbs were non-existent or very expensive so via booking.com we came across a place called Caruso’s Accommodation which had suites with a small kitchenette. Always a plus when on a budget! We drove past it accidentally a couple of times because we were looking for a motel sort of set up. When we eventually found it, it looked more like a mobile home with logs stuck on the outside.
The room was good though and had everything we needed. Mr Caruso gave us a key but we had yet to complete the booking with Mistress Caruso who ran the joint. From the name, I was convinced she would have dangling ear-rings, a head-scarf and have the ability to read any residue in my coffee cup. I would have to wait to check-out day to see if the preconceived persona was right.
Jasper, itself, is a vibrant place, similar to Banff with lots of excursions, hikes and raft tours on offer with the ever present steady stream of motor homes searching for the elusive camp site with vacancies. As we were “with wheels” we wanted to make the most of getting out to some lakes and trails and see them we did!
Top Lakes of Jasper (in no particular order)
- Valley of the Five Lakes – These lakes, about 8 km south of Jasper, took our breath away and we couldn’t see how anything could compare to the 5/6 km hike to get to them through towering fir trees. But, at this state, what did we know?
- Lake Beauvert – This lake was within walking distance of Jasper. We completed a lake loop trail and ended up at the every exclusive Jasper Park Lodge (in the Fairmont group of hotels). There was a fabulous bar and restaurant looking out over the lake but we opted for their up-market “to go” service and sat on loungers on a pontoon by the edge of the lake.
- Lake Edith – This is a smaller lake nearby. ~There were paddle boarders around but signs warning of “swimmers itch” meant swimming was not recommended.
- Lake Annette – Adjacent to Lake Edith. We completed a lake loop trail and messed about on the pontoon. This lake had a stunning turquoise tint.
- Pyramid Lake – About a 10 minute drive from Jasper. We indulged in a spot of early morning canoeing and a swim in the shadow of Pyramid Mountain. It was one of those magical mornings when we have to pinch ourselves that we really are in the Canadian Rockers, we really are kayaking and swimming in an alpine lake. While we dried off, we met a couple, Sherry and Perry (yes, honestly), who after 5 minutes chit chat invited us to stay with them in Edmonton. We have Perry’s business card so we may look them up. How friendly is that? It must have been Jon’s bathing costume that swung it.
- Lake Patricia – Another stunningly blue lake. I just had to swim again. In fact, I had the whole lake to myself apart from a couple of loon birds. Temperature – it was cool but not bone numbingly cold. I am the dot in the distance – not poor photography I hasten to add, it was to give the concept of scale!
- Maligne Lake – A 44km drive took us up to this popular lake. Popular because it is the largest lake in Jasper National Park, has lake cruises and, unusually for the Park, has a lodge serving meals and refreshments. It was fantastic scenery by anyone’s standards but, in our view, less is more. So the facilities detracted from the beauty of the location. We made one stop off on the journey up there to explore the Maligne Canyon which is a narrow 50 metre deep canyon spewing water through a series of falls and punch bowls.
- Medicine Lake – En route to Maligne Lake the road passes Medicine Lake. The colours again are striking, It is amazing how the different minerals affect the colour of each lake.
- Jasper Lake – I have left the strangest lake until last. Although it is called a lake it is basically a wide part of the Athabasca River formed by run-off from the mountains. Because of this there is no depth to the lake so you can walk the whole 6 mile length and 1-3 mile width in water no higher than your knees. Evidently there is a kayak channel through the middle but even this gets silted up. To aid to the weirdness, on the northwest shore there are sand dunes. These are caused by silt that is dried and shaped by the winds to form these dunes that look so out of place.
To explore a different area (and keep the accommodation costs down), we planned a two night stay 50 miles east of Jasper in Hinton. First though we had to check out with Mistress Caruso. I had been spookily right about the mysterious Mistress Caruso. She was late 60s and spoke with a heavy eastern European accent, was dressed in what I can only call a housecoat. Seemingly without any supporting undergarments. She said, “You good people. You no need paperwork. Why you go Hinton? No good, you go Trabesch”. Nothing more to be said really. We totally ignored the advice and headed for Hinton.
Our Airbnb in Hinton was top notch. Our host, Shauna, was on a camping trip so her Dad, Doug, turned up every now and then to walk the dog, Mario, and make sure we were OK.
We managed to catch a bit of Olympics while we were there. Doug even bet me $5 that Usain Bolt would lose the 100m final. We are $5 better off but he wants us to return in 4 years time so he can have a stab at getting his money back.
Hinton has it’s roots in coal mining and the railroad but now oil and gas is the main industry.
We visited the most popular tourist attraction, the Beaver Boardwalk. This is over 3km of boardwalk above the wetland area where beavers are busy building dams, maintaining their impressive lodge. The same beaver family, and their descendants have lived in the area for over 20 years. They even have their own blog, Beaver Boardwalk Blog, but it needs a bit of the Jonno blog update magic.
My final comment on Hinton must be that Jon had to bite the bullet and lash out on a new pair of trainers. Many miles, or even metric kilometres, had the old faithful ones done but with the threat of more blisters and no grip on the hilly trails it had to happen. Needless to say we got them in the sale and, don’t worry regular readers, they are very similar to every other pair. The only problem now is convincing him to dispose of the old ones!
What a fantastic trip this has turned out to be and we hope you are not “laked-out”. We just can’t get enough even though we have only scratched the surface but still pride ourselves in not dashing from Lake A to B to C. As always, we have lingered and enjoyed the moment despite the temptation with our sporty car. The National Parks of the Canadian Rockies have certainly stolen our hearts so no apology forthcoming for the amount of photos this time.
11.8 – 17.8.2016