Well, it has been an interesting couple weeks. Last week, hubby and I decided to take a trip out to Jasper to get some fresh mountain air. That we did.
Sunday: Arrive in Jasper, the long way via Edmonton, due to poor driving conditions on Highway 93. Book a guided ice walk tour. Sleep. For like 10 hrs. We were both exhausted from the previous week which involved lots of fun things, but resulted in significant energy expenditure.
Monday: 9am Ice Walk. Beautiful! It was relatively warm, and not too busy as it was the last weekend of the season. The large ice formations at the top of the canyon were melting quite a pit, and each day the risk of big ice chunks falling increased. It was slippery in spots, but all in all a safe casual walk. Our tour guide Trish was informative and amusing. Headed back to town, grabbed some lunch and a nap, and then headed back out to explore. We drove along Maligne Lake Road. We were promptly greeted by a couple bald eagles (we weren’t able to get any shots) and a gorgeous Red Fox. Jamie got some fantastic shots of the Fox, which he will post on Flickr. We kept on driving up the road to see if there were any good snowshoeing treks. We found one that looked ok, but it was getting late so we just threw on the gators (yes, dad – the gators you bought for me in JUNIOR HIGH!) and did as much as we could in plain old hiking boots. Baldy Hills is a nice 10=-k uphill loop, apparently the views are fantastic! We turned back at about the halfway point.
Tuesday: After some recommendations for pristine snow for snowshoeing, we decided to trek Medicine Lake. It’s a dried lake bed with a small meandering river through it, with perfect snow. I figured the lake was maybe 3k long. I was wrong. Oh, I was wrong in so many ways: 1.) snowshoeing is not easy, 2.) Medicine Lake is much longer than 3k, 3.) Snowshoeing in heavy, wet snow is a lot tougher than nice dry, hard snow. At 5.5k, knowing that the end of the lake was still ~2k away, we decided we should head back. I was exhausted and had to pee.
Side note: I have some kind of fear of peeing anywhere but a toilet. Flashback to a snorkeling tour I took in Belize – I held my pee the entire3-4hr trip, which also included lots of sangria and ceviche. As soon as we docked, I sprinted back to my hotel room on the beach. I remember the local caribbean dude yelling “where you goin’ so fast, girl?” and I was made and screamed, “I HAVE TO PEE!”. I met Jamie and my father in law at the entrance of the hotel room, pushed them out of the way, and, well, no need to explain. That evening at dinner with the tour group, I learned that everyone just pees in the ocean. Huh.
Anyway, I had to pee in the bushes. I don’t even know why I am including this in my blog post, but I cheered afterwards – I felt like I conquered something extra that day. Snowshoeing, and peeing in the bushes. We finally made it back to the parking lot, and enjoyed a sandwich on a park bench, looking back at our tracks in the snow. We didn’t do much that evening, but I must say – the beer at dinner was the best damn beer I have ever had.
Wednesday: We decided to take it easy, maybe drive out somewhere and do a small walk. Unfortunately, due to the beautiful weather, the entire length of Highway 93 from Jasper Townsite to Saskatchewan Crossing was closed. Maligne Lake Road was also closed. Luckily there are plenty of hikes that start right in town. I picked the Old Fort Pointe hike, and added a few extra km’s from another hike onto it to make it a nice couple hours walk. Unfortunately, when you add deep snow, ice, and poorly marked trails into the mix, things take a bit longer. So, we were exhausted from yesterday’s Snowshoe Expedition, and then were exhausted by the deep snow and maneuvering over the ice… it made for a long, tiring, 4 hr hike. about 3/4 of the way through, we came to a nice hill that we figured would have great views up top. We started the steep but short ascent and were greeted by a family of rams. 1 specifically angry ram. We backed down. Finally made it to Old Fort Pointe with a beautiful view of the town of Jasper and the Tonquin valley. I could also see the parking lot which made me happy. We headed back, got some homemade fudge (mmm), and took the rest of the evening pretty easy.
Thursday: We headed back to Cowtown. Again, we had to go home via Edmonton – Highway 93 was still completely closed, and who knows for how long. We met a friend in Edmonton for lunch, so the detour was worth it. Once we passed Red Deer, we were greeted with the wonderful Snowstorm and got to drive the QE2 in that nightmare, then Stony Trail, and then home.
It was an absolutely fantastic trip. We were exhausted, but we really got to see a lot and we did a lot.