Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Canada Road Trip (Part III): Jasper National Park

After our river safari and our black bear spotting, it seemed like we couldn’t go anywhere without seeing the hulking black bruins. We’d seen eight, including a mum and cubs,  by the time we’d pulled into our lodgings in Jasper a few hours later.

 Jasper is, in a word, stunning.

And similar to Yellowstone, there is wildlife everywhere. These elk did a nice slow saunter across the highway; no hurrying for them!

This coyote was also taking its sweet time.

Whenever we travel with kids, I have to readjust my expectations for what we can accomplish during the day. It takes twice as long to get out the door, somebody is always hungry, and long strenuous hikes just aren’t in the cards. 

We settled for the tourist-heavy Maligne Canyon hike but went all the way down to the bottom in an attempt to get a few good hills under our belt. Our little Emma is no longer so little! I’m going to have to switch her round to my back pretty soon.

"Daaaaaddy! My legs are broken! I need water and snacks. And for you to carry me. "

 This kid has it made. 

A bit about the canyon:

The Maligne River system was considered by the French Canadian fur traders and their native guides as a bit mysterious.

The river, up near Maligne Lake, flows in a mighty torrent. When it enters Medicine Lake (named in reference to bad medicine) it does so with great volumes. It does not, however, appear to flow out. Indeed, through the summer months Medicine Lake disappears until, in mid autumn all that is left is a thin channel that itself disappears into the shoreline.

The Maligne Valley is riddled by the most extensive "karst" system in the world. A karst system is a geological formation of caves above and below ground level. In the case of the Maligne Valley, no one knows just where water from Maligne Lake goes.

When traced by dyes it has taken anywhere from half a day to a week for the water to make the trip from Medicine Lake to Maligne Canyon, a distance of about ten miles. Even then, the dyes didn't show up at only one final destination. Dyes turned up in the Canyon, Lac Beauvert by Jasper Park Lodge and in several of the other lakes between.


Family selfies just got a whole lot harder, thanks to kids up top and at waist level. 

There she is (looking slightly disgruntled):

We drove down to Maligne and Medicine lakes, stopping for a picnic lunch along the river. 

You’ll never guess who got himself soaking wet. Seriously, the kid is part fish.

The ever-disappearing Medicine lake. Notice the two black specks in the foreground. Bears everywhere!

One of my favorite pictures of the trip. The water color was an unbelievable jade green.

Here’s a better shot of the water:

Afterwards we took the Jasper Tram up Whistlers Mountain for one heck of a grand view. It also happens to be seven minutes of bumps in a small space with 20 of your closest friends. Definitely not Chris’ idea of a good time. 

He was a trooper though. Everybody was glad to exit the vehicle upon arrival. Be sure to wear warm clothes at the top; there’s still a bit of snow and it can be dreadfully windy. 

The views make it worth it, though. Spectacular. 

This is pretty much Ben’s every-day, normal level of excitement. 

Jumping off rocks on the side of a mountain? No biggie. 

Top of the world. 

The summer season is fairly short in Jasper so bears have to make the most of the warm weather. Almost every bear we saw was foraging. This one was stocking up on dandelions by the roadside. 

He couldn’t even be bothered to look up. 

We stayed at the Patricia Lake Bungalows which were perfect for kids: a nice dock, rental boats, playground, hot tub, and a lake that was begging to have stones chucked into it. 

Ben and I went down to the dock one evening for some stone throwing and were having a grand time right up until a bear popped out of the brush right next to those rowboats. Never boring ‘round here, that’s for sure. No pictures of the bear; I was too busy sprinting over to my kid. Don’t mess with this mama bear. :)



If You Go:

A few notes about Jasper. Make your lodging reservations at least three months in advance as things fill up quickly. We paid $200 CAD for our stand-alone (nothing special) cabin. I just about keeled over at the price but that’s the norm, not the exception. Expect the same for Banff as well. Towns outside the tourist areas like Canmore and Field will be much more reasonable. 

Canada Road Trip 

Part II: Bears and Boats
Part III: Jasper National Park

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