Our three nights in Jasper National park were stunning. It is a truly beautiful place, and if I had my choice, I would rather return again to Jasper before returning to Banff. Less crowds, plenty more to see.
1. Wide open camping area with Elk roaming about
2. Walking on the Athabasca Glacier and rappelling into a crevasse, extra warm gear provided
3. Hiking Beauty Creek to Stanley Falls – unexpected wonderful hike and river crossing
4. Hiking in Maligne Canyon, and eating macaroni and cheese on the shores of Maligne Lake
5. Seeing Athabasca falls, Sunwapta falls and Peyto lake
6. Gorgeous weather, sunny skies, incredible lake colors
7. Evening dinner with Simina, Mustafa and Sabina Siddiqui
1. Elk-in-heat banshee screams all night-long
2. Cold and rainy morning on the glacier – got better in the afternoon
3. Shattering iphone screen at Beauty Creek, $25 screen protector
4. Colder than comfortable mornings and evening in the tent
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Friday Sep 23 - After and night of listening to elk mating calls, we woke up to an extremely chilly morning, had a quick breakfast, and drove (1 hr) to the Athabasca Glacier for our Glacier Trek (4 hr, $175 pp). After the trek, we drove back to Jasper and stopped to hike the Beauty Creek trail (2 hr). We spent the rest of the evening after dinner in a hotel lobby, stealing the wifi and getting some work and studies done.
Saturday Sep 24 - After another night punctuated by elk screams, we drove to Maligne Canyon for a hike along the river (2 hrs), then drove to Maligne Lake (1 hr) for the views and for a 4-box macaroni and cheese lunch (2 hrs). We returned to Jasper and found the Jasper train station to be a lovely place for an afternoon of wifi consuming tasks.
Sunday Sep 25 - We packed up camp, and headed south to our next stop in Banff (2 1/2 hrs total driving). We made numerous leisurely stops along the way at Athabasca Falls (1 hr), Sunwapta Falls (2 hr), Peyto Lake (2 hr). We pulled into the Tunnel Mountain Village camping place ($30/night) in time to set up and then meet our friends the Siddiquis for dinner and an evening stroll through downtown Banff.
1. Wide open camping area with Elk roaming about - This was as close as we got to nature and wild animals on our entire trip. The meandering Elk actually owned the place, and we were just guests. They came sometimes too close for comfort. Especially at night.
2. Walking on the Athabasca Glacier and rappelling into a crevasse, extra warm gear provided - This was an extremely cool experience. We had tried to do this in Juneau on the Mendenhall glacier, but it didn't work out, so our dreams were realized here in Jasper. The company gave us some additional rainjackets and boots and gloves, gratefully. And we set out with 5 other guests across the moraine fields up to the glacier itself. We strapped on little boot ice spikes for the ice trekking, and coninued up the ice. We walked for probably 2 miles on and around the ice, past glacier streams and rivers and crevasses and ice plains. The drop into the crevasse was as cool as it gets. We see lots of beautiful places, but new and iconic experiences like this are fewer and further between and all the more exciting.
3. Hiking Beauty Creek to Stanley Falls – unexpectedly wonderful hike and river crossing - This little gem was recommended to us by the glacier guide. It wasn't listed on any of the park materials as a worthy day-hike, and we would have driven right past it. But we were thankful for the heads up, because it was a delightful, picturesque hike that I would in turn recommend to everyone. The stream cut deep into limestone cliffs, with waterfall after waterfall along the route. We walked along the stream for the entirety of the hike, and we delighted with beautiful scenery at every turn. This was one of our favorite hikes of the trip. And we only saw two other groups the entire time. Jacob and I took a shortcut on the way back, and had to traverse some marshlands, and ended up wading across an icy river to get back to the highway.
4. Hiking in Maligne Canyon, and eating macaroni and cheese on the shores of Maligne Lake - This was also a beautiful hike, much more popular and much more crowded, with slightly more dramatic vistas. But one missed the solitude of Beauty creek. The lake was also beautiful, and we spend a long lunch hour boiling pan after pan of water to satiate our craving for macaroni and cheese. It even tasted better with camping substitute improvisations (vegetable oil for butter, and boxed coconut milk for fresh milk)
5. Seeing Athabasca falls, Sunwapta Falls and Peyto Lake - We had skipped some of the sights along the icefield parkway during our drive to the glacier earlier in the week, so we stopped on our drive to Banff day. Totally worthwhile visits every one. Peyto lake was especially stunning.
6. Gorgeous weather, sunny skies, incredible lake colors - After our first drizzly day on the glacier, the weather cleared and we had blue sunny skies for the entire week. This made views of the snow-capped mountains especially pleasing. We were super-fortunate for our weather week.
7. Evening dinner with Simina, Mustafa and Sabina Siddiqui - These friends we knew first in the Netherlands. They had moved to Calgary and graciously offered to come up to meet us in Banff for dinner. It was a great reunion to keep a friendship going.
1. Elk-in-heat Banshee screams all night-long - Those male elk, deep into rutting season, were seriously loud and obnoxious animals. My first hearing of the sound was like terrifying ghosts in the woods. But one got used to the yelling, even if it kept us up at night.
2. Cold and rainy morning on the glacier – got better in the afternoon - The rain on the glacier comes with the territory, and luckily the extra clothes helped us to be warm. In fact, more sun probably would have given us worse sunburn. As it was, we all got tinged.
3. Shattering iphone screen at Beauty Creek, $25 screen protector - Poor Megan tripped on our hike and shattered her iphone screen. It is still useable, but downright annoying and unsightly.
4. Colder than comfortable mornings and evening in the tent - Camping is supposed to be cold, so we got the real deal. No one was TOO cold, but there were some periods in the evening and morning of slight discomfort. Better clothes would have helped.
Fall Semester 2022
Here we go again! Our 8 Suitcases have been whittled down to 4 suitcases as we take a four month world trip with our two youngest kids, Megan and Jacob. From Canada to Europe to islands in the Indian Ocean and finally to South Africa, from Sep to Dec 2022, here are our travels and experiences.