Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jasper National Park

After we passed over the Continental divide we dropped down into Jasper National Park and continued on our stellar drive towards the town of Jasper. Jasper National Park is about the length of Banff National Park, but a lot fatter. It is a huge park, measuring in at 4200 square miles, nearly 1000 square miles larger than Yellowstone National Park.

We entered the park the way most people do, along the amazing Icefields Parkway. We stopped at lots more interesting stops and viewpoints finally closing our drive at Athabasca Falls near the town of Jasper. This site is where the Athabasca River is forced through a narrow gorge and down a 75 foot drop. Although the fall isn't huge, the force of the water is amazing.

I played with the shutter speed on my camera trying to get a nice blurred photo of Athabasca Falls. Turned out pretty good!
At the end of the day we finally arrived to our very comfy hotel in the town of Jasper and promptly decided to go out to dinner. The town site of Jasper is the style E and I really enjoy: views of the Rockies everywhere you turn, a laid back easy main street and lots of outdoorsy types walking around. After dinner E and I decided on a scoop of ice cream, he choose the very Canadian flavor of Maple Walnut.

The next day was beautiful! Stunning! The weather was glorious, clear and beautiful and warm, but not hot. We drove out along the Maligne Lake Highway towards Maligne Lake. The drive was breathtaking. We followed the very eager Maligne River the entire way. This river in a lot of ways reminded me of Yosemite's Merced River. Maligne River was blue, fast, clear and cold.

This photo I took along the Maligne Lake Highway. Just look at those mountains: lovely.
Maligne River cuts through a small canyon at six different points, creating beautiful waterfalls each time.
Once we arrived at Maligne Lake I was in heaven. This lake, the largest glacially fed lake in all of the Canadian Rockies, was just as blue as lakes in other areas, but because it was in Jasper, vs. Banff, it was a lot less crowded. We decided to take a canoe out here too, but instead of only an hour we splurged and purchased a two hour rental.

We left the historic 1928 boathouse and headed up the lake near the North West shore. We were such pro paddlers after our hour earlier in the week, we made good time and soon left the crowds behind. We slowed to talk or take photos, but for about an hour we paddled non stop. Near the top of the hour we decided to check some little lake inlets and scope out the beauty of the forest from the canoe. We found one little inlet that was stunning. Near the back of it a little river danced over small stones ready to join Maligne Lake. Here the forest was so quiet and special. E and I wished we had rented the canoe for the entire day, we could easily see getting off here and enjoying lunch on the beach.

All too soon it was time to turn around and paddle back to the boat house. The forest glided by and E and I were so impressed with our awesome paddling. Back at the boat house we looked at a Maligne Lake map, thinking that we'd made it a great distance, but were stunned to realize that we had barley paddled 1/12 of the length of the lake, this lake was just too large! I think we did paddle at least three miles, however, so we can still think that we rock.

Back on land we went to a little cafe right on the shore and ordered soup and sandwiches. We ate outside, with the most perfect view, and enjoyed lunch.

I loved this chalkboard sign inside the boathouse. We decided to rent the canoe for two hours, but next time we're packing lunch and going for the entire day!
This is a photo of me during a brief rest on our intensive paddle down Maligne Lake.
And look at how perfect the boat house is. This is the view from our lunch spot! Yes, amazing.
This video I took while on Maligne Lake. Anyone who knows me, knows I take pretty awesome videos ;).

Later in the day we decided to take another scenic drive to Mount Edith Cavell, one of the largest and most beautiful mountains in Jasper. We arrived late in the day and the mountain appeared before us. Huge Angel Glacier perched high on the mountain, and Cavell Glacier slowly melted far below. E and I decided to take the short 1 mile loop trail at the base of Mount Edith Cavell, where we got lots of awesome views of both glaciers, came face to face with Cavell pond at the rim of Cavell Glacier where we watched icebergs floating. Also, the waterfall below Angel Glacier took your breath away, all in all, Mount Edith Cavell was spectacular.

Mount Edith Cavell came into view quickly after we took a sharp turn in the road. I was so impressed, I took this photo from the car.
E standing on the moraine near the base of Mount Edith. Notice Cavell Glacier and Cavell pond (with icebergs!) behind him.
Angel Glacier (at the top of the photo), the beautiful waterfall flowing from it, and Cavell Pond with floating bergs.
Another awesome video made by me. E thinks I'm a total dork, especially at the end, but it at least shows off how pretty Mount Edith Cavell was.

The next day we said goodbye to Jasper, turned around, and made the long trek along the Icefields Parkway to Banff. Along the way we stopped a few times and enjoyed all the fantastic views and Sunwapa Falls. Here in Jasper, like Banff, the pine trees go on forever, the lakes are bluer than we thought imaginable, and we just adored it.


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