Lake Louise and the Banff Hot Springs
Jasper in the rear-view, winding down the vacation

Jasper, immense, surprising and conversations about bucket lists.

I've been to Jasper once, about a decade ago, with my dad and siblings. We drove up the Icefields Hwy to the Athabasca Glacier, trudge up the path to it and then turned around and drove back to Banff. My biggest memory of it was how long the drive from Banff was. That memory was the stongest I think because it was our first big driving trip with the girls, and we were trying to figure out how our upcoming drive to BC was going to work out. Chris remembers pushing A in the jogging stroller all the way up to the glacier.

As we walked up to the Glacier this time, the girls joked about how few things they will have left on their bucket list when they grow up. Seeing the Rockies, check, walking up to a Glacier, check, Paris, St.Petersburg, check and check. I responded that there were plenty of places we haven't been to yet, China, Australia, New Zealand, South America and they responded, oh I am sure we are going to get to those. I told them, that this just means they will have room on their bucket lists, for colonizing the moon and visiting Mars, or to add experiences instead of places. Zee told us what is on her list now: Scuba Diving, Sky-diving and mountain climbing. We didn't walk on the Glacier as she had hoped but we go really close.

Post-lunch acrobatics

Leaving the Ice fields behind, driving toward the Jasper townsite, we told the girls this was the furthest north they have ever traveled in North America. We drove past some enormous mountains into wide beautiful valleys. We had the makings of a picnic lunch with us, so we entertained ourselves looking for good picnicking sites. We passed several camping sites, and trailheads, and while they looked lovely, I was feeling picky. I was hoping for a site by water. About a half-hour out of the Columbia Icefields, I saw the sign for the Sunwapta Falls. There was actually a restaurant and lodge at that turn off but we drove past them to the falls. The falls were amazing. At the site the Sunwapta River merges with the Athabasca River which originates at the Columbia Icefields. They pour in together into a narrow canyon, and we had could cross the small bridge and admire the power of the rivers, as they carve the stone walls. We feasted on ham and cheese sandwiches, Doritos and cherries before tossing pine cones into then into the gorge.

Reluctantly we climbed into the car and set off for Jasper and the Jasper Skytram. We passed popular and crowded trailheads for the Athabasca Falls and the Valley of the Five Lakes (which I missed read as Fire lakes!) and arrived at the Jasper Skytram by mid afternoon. We bought tickets thankful again for the small discounts packages for families of four available at most attractions. We took a nine-minute ride up to the top of Mt. Whistlers. The top station is about 1.3 km short of the summit, and Z. and Chris made it all the way to the top. A. and I huffed and puffed up 3/4 of the way before deciding the view was impressive enough. We did climb past Park workers who were cleaning out the trail, and moving rocks 2,400 some meters in altitude. I only have the greatest respect for them.

Zee loves dream catchers

Jasper is very compact, pretty town that houses 5,000 year-round residents, but balloons up to 20,000 with seasonal workers and visitors in the summer. It took some work (our gps was baffled) but we found our hotel on the very edge of town. The girls swam in the pool for a hour before we hunted for parking and dinner in town. We had a great meal, while enjoying magestic mountain views and collapsed into bed early.

This morning we are waiting for our resident sleeping beauty (Z) to wake up so we can pick up breakfast, visit a couple of lakes before leaving the Great Canadian Wilderness behind for Edmonton, where I hope to meet up with Mr.Bratt my favorite teacher.














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