So I did five of ten days of vacation blogging … which is pretty much an F for effort. HA. The thing I hate about wordpress is, since six years ago when I first started using this site and now, they’ve added a lot of features and I never had the time to figure it out, and now when I post pictures, they’re completely unproportional to my site! Nothing here seems intuitive to me. I don’t have the time to make this visually appealing though, as I barely have time to even post. Maybe ONE DAY.
Anyway, the sixth day involved getting up, leaving Lake Louise and headed toward Jasper along the 93N aka the Icefields Parkway. There are a ton of stops along the way, as well as hikes. The weather also seems to be generally colder and rainier as we go up north, which was the case almost immediately once we set off. What had been beautiful blue skies quickly turned into grey rainy clouds, as if we had stepped through a portal.
Some hikes I wanted to do but did not get to do included Bow Glacier Falls and the Helen Lake/Crowfoot Glacier. We stopped briefly at the Num Ti Jah lodge, but it was pretty much pouring at this point and none of us had proper rain gear, though my parents really shouldn’t be out in the rain regardless of rain gear.
I drove to Peyto Lake, where there was a short walk to view the Bow Valley/Peyto Lake, and it was still pouring, but at this point I was like, let’s just stop and sit because the weather report said it’d stop raining in about half an hour. So we just sat in the car … and sure enough the rain slowly let up. My mom and I decided to go out, now in the sprinkling rain (my dad refused), and it was just a ten minute walk up to the viewpoint and once we got up there, no more rain! By the time we came back down, my dad had gotten out of the car (though he still wasn’t interested in looking at the viewpoint), and after yet another bathroom break, we set off, now with considerably better weather than an hour before.
The next major stop was Mistaya Canyon, which might be one of my favorite stops the entire trip. It’s a very narrow but deep canyon, with very interesting ridges along the side. I walked down to the edge (I’m not quittteee sure if you’re supposed to or not, but I don’t remember any railing preventing us from walking out).
We stopped to do a picnic lunch at a place called the Saskatchewan Crossing which is where … I think people walked along the river back in the day to traverse the lands. Very few people stopped at this spot, so it was wonderfully peaceful to look out and imagine old fur traders walking below.
A nearby stop, named the Crossing, is one of the few places to get gas along the parkway, though we didn’t need any. It was a huge rest stop looking area, and it was kind of nice to have real bathrooms even though all the bathrooms at all the stops in the park were so clean.
The main hike of the day was Parker Ridge, which is described as “easy” but has a lot of switchbacks. It had amazing views, though admittedly it’s kind of the same view the entire time. I didn’t think the summit would have anything interesting, but a family we passed said it was well worth it. WRONG. Haha, my parents decided to head back down after reaching the top of the first half, and I told them I’d continue onto the summit just to look out. I remember listening to my Bowery Brothers podcast, it was an episode on the Times Building. We had been told the summit would be an amazing view of the glacier nearby but it wasn’t an amazing view … or maybe I just am not particularly interested in looking at a glacier? The fun thing was that I ended up catching up to my parents on my way back, which is kind of fun to be able to have my own alone time while hiking, but still be on the same schedule.
As I’m writing this, I kind of can’t believe how much we fit in a single day! We continued onto the next main stop which is the Icefields Center. Here you can pay to go out onto a glacier via a special glacier traversing bus. You get out and walk around and collect glacier water. It is quite expensive for what sounds like a bus that goes out on what will just look like snow, so I declined. In any case, we arrived so late that we wouldn’t have caught a tour anyway. We still walked around the center and took SO many pictures regardless. There was a little more mist in the air and even a rainbow, but visibility of the glaciers was poor. We stopped here a few days later on the way back, and the sky was much clearer that time.
I don’t think we stopped after that again, and it was actually another 1+ hour to our hotel so I was eager to get to our hotel before it got very dark. VERY few cars on the road at this point. We were staying in Jasper, which was a much bigger town than Lake Louise though I don’t think as big as Banff. Jasper is essentially just a very long drag of town and our hotel was the very last one. I really liked our hotel, though I think it might have been the most expensive. It was the Sawridge Inn at Jasper and seemed to primarily serve as a business conference center. It had hands down the best amenities I’ve ever had from a hotel, meaning their shampoo and conditioner smelled great and their soap was great. Also, it had the best internet I experienced on the trip.
That night we went to eat at a place called Jasper Brewing Company, and the food was AMAZINGGGG. We shared the following (SO DELICIOUS): Toasted Reuben Sandwich, Fried Chicken Sandwich, Classic Burger, with fries, sweet potato fries and a really amazing salad that had much fresher ingredients than I had expected. I also saw an elk meatloaf on the menu which I was tempted to try. We were so stuffed that I was really bummed that my parents were not willing to extend their bellies to try their Apple & Berry Crisp (the menu description is “Vanilla bean ice cream, Rye Whiskey Sauce”). Doesn’t that sound intriguing?! Other things on their menu: Kale Spaghetti, Seared Beetroot & Quinoa Burger, Elk Carpaccio.
We walked briefly around the street, but it was bitterly cold so we got back to our car and drove the one mile back to the hotel… and I think I finally had my first full, restful night of the trip. SUCH COMFORTABLE BEDS! My parents had at this point decided that I would sleep in my own bed and they would share (usually I share with my mom) and I remember being very annoyed about something so I did it this first night. And we all slept so well that this sleeping arrangement continued throughout the trip and worked VERY WELL for all of us.