May 31 we said our good-byes to wonderful Banff and headed up Hwy 93 N (Icefields Parkway) to Jasper. This stretch of road between lake Louise and Jasper is one of the most scenic drives in North America, in the center of the Canadian Rockies.
Our first picture opportunity was not far away, the Peyto Lake, a turquoise glacial fed lake (aren’t they all?). The mountain range is spectacular and very close to the road.
We saw our first black bear of the day and continued on to Mistaya Canyon were we took a short hike. The river has worn a deep, twisting gorge into the limestone bedrock, and tumbling boulders have created potholes and a natural arch in the canyon sides. I don’t think you can see all that from the pictures but it's very deep and a bit scarry.
We continued on and saw another black bear when all the traffic had stopped. The bear came right out into the road in front of the cars. I was mad when I saw the car in front of us throw some food out the window to the bear to get a better photo opt. People are crazy to will do anything to get a picture but don’t even think about the fact these bears are WILDDDD! We took a couple pictures, what can I say.
It was beautiful sunny and warm (45F) day and as we got closer to Jasper the water in the rivers seem to get lower and lower. Since Jasper is in a large marshy valley called the North Saskatchewan River Valley, we figured there was just too much area that the water had to cover. The mountains just kept going and were farther away and there was less snow on them.
We passed the Columbia Icefields Discovery Center which boasts about its Glacier Skywalk. What a joke!! I’m not sure how much people had to pay to walk out 900 feet onto a glass platform to see the canyon but we definitely weren’t going to be one of them. We may come back some other day and take a picture and show you what we mean.
It’s now a glowing 58F and we have arrived at Whistlers Campground, just 2Km outside of Jasper. We are not too impressed with the campsite, but who cares when you are in an RV. We quickly got settled and ran into town to the local Visitors info. We also stopped at a fishing store to get our National Park fishing license. Fishing is supposed to be great with easy catches of rainbow trout, bullhead trout, whitefish, and Pike.
Jasper is totally different than Banff, and I prefer the area around Banff. Jasper has many very nice expensive touristy shops, and a ton of places to eat which are also expensive. On our first night into a new town we always eat at one of the local restaurants. They all serve great food but the wine is expensive, about $14 for a 9oz glass. We enjoyed our meal and took a quick drive out to one of the lakes that we will be fishing at tomorrow. The fishing store was correct, there are lots of fish right now. Let’s hope we catch some tomorrow.
We had a slow start this morning and didn't get the boat loaded and ready to go till about 1:00pm. That actually worked great for us. The morning was a bit drizzly and wet but the afternoon was beautiful. We took our boat and fishing gear to Talbot Lake, about 48K from Banff. We were told we would catch Pike and White Fish. The Lake was so much fun. It wasn't very deep and I did see 1 Pike. We trolled around the lake using these big frogs like spinner baits, Graham hoped to catch a Pike. We both got bites on the frogs but Graham is the only one that actually caught a Pike. These fish are long skinny and very colorful, with very sharp teeth. Good going Graham! The lake was aqua blue and very calming. We were on the lake till about 7:30pm when we finally stopped fishing. It was a great day, but not over yet. We got our swim suits and went to the Miette Hot Springs. They were sooo much better than the Banff hot springs. They are quite a ways out of town so there weren't too people in the pool. Again, the hot spas feel great. We weren't done for the night. We had to go into town to celebrate Graham's catch. It was about 9:30pm and I was determined to be out to see the sunset. 10:06 it finally went down. Unbelievable!!
Back to camp where we saw more elk. The female elk are birthing right now and there are warning signs all over camp about how aggressive they are. The neighbors dog barked and whined all night and kept me awake. The next day we found out that the man and his two dogs were out walking around camp and they came upon a mother elk and her baby. The dogs went crazy and the elk started after the dogs. The man dropped his leash and started to run back to camp, but one of the dogs stood his ground. The elk kicked it and stomped it. The elk came running after the man so fast that the man had to pound on an RV to let him in until the elk left. The man left early the next day to take the dog to the vet. Pretty crazy stuff! "You betcha, eh!"
Today is a rainy wet day but I don't mind and I don't think Graham minds. "You betcha". We are downtown at some internet café updating this blog. It's a perfect day to do it. Tomorrow we hope to go fishing again but this time for trout. Wish us luck!
The boat is in the back of the truck and we are ready to catch fish today. The drive to Maligne Lake was long but we did see a few animals. This time we saw a fully grown black bear up in a tree, and a bald eagle sitting on her nest with 3 baby chicks waiting to be fed.
Fishing at Maligne Lake was a bust (boo hoo) It was very cold outside and the lake had white caps on it. Plus the lake was huge, the second largest lake in Alberta. We were trying to catch trout and didn't even have a bite, although 2 two guys in float tubes right next to us couldn't keep fish off their lines. Maybe the difference is that they were fly fishing and we were using rods. Graham tried everything but no luck, but the mountains again were spectacular. Coming home we saw some mangy female mountain goats.
There is lots to do in Jasper, but it wasn't stuff we wanted to do. We were ready to leave Jasper behind and headed for Grande Cache.
The landscape on the way to Grande Cache was so different than what we have been seeing. The road was in very bad shape. The road was cut straight through the trees, so the only thing to see for hours were trees, and they were skinny juniper trees. They were not big trees. We didn't see a single animal, not even a bird. The big industry here is logging and many, many trees throughout the hills have been logged. It was a boring trip.
Since Grande Cache was only about 4 hours from Jasper, we had time to play golf at the Grande Cache Golf & Country Club. It was a surprisingly difficult 9 hole course (only 118 slope) but it had lots of hills and trees and water. I was out of breath just walking to my ball. The scenery around the course was breath taking. Since it was a nice warm day, the course was very busy, but since they are open till 11pm, we booked to play at 6:36PM. We finished our 18th hole at 10:30PM. You can see how light it still is outside. Weird!! Also, we had to carry bear spray with us since there were grizzly bears on the course. (We didn't see any) The course was in fairly good shape considering it's under snow 6+ months out of the year.
Tomorrow we move to uncharted territory. We have no RV sites booked till we get to Alaska. If we see a town that looks interesting, we can stop and explore.