Sunday June 29, 2008
We woke a bit later than we had wanted to do, but it was needed. Sleeping on the sofa bed was a bit uncomfortable, but thanks to the generous Internet connection, my laptop downloaded the latest Doctor Who episode while I was sleeping. As we were all getting ready, I watched the first half of the episode and I was blown away! I could not wait to watch the rest of the episode, even though I know it is a cliffhanger and will not be resolved until next week.
After packing and loading the car, I checked out of our hotel and we headed to the breakfast buffet. We could not believe it was already 11am! We ate as much as we could and then got on the road. Our first stop of the day was Lake Moraine. Located about 12km from Lake Louise Village, it is a smaller, but equally beautiful lake. There was a landslide at the closest end of the lake that had tourists swarming all over it to take a great photo of the lake. Not wanting to miss a good photo op, I headed across the logs to the rocks. Unfortunately, I stepped on a log that I thought was stable and my right foot disappeared into some bone chilling glacial water up to my ankle. One of the things I hate more in the world is wet feet in sneakers, but you know what? When you are up in the Rockies having a great time it just didn’t seem all that bad.
I sloshed my way up some rocks to take a few photos, then scrambled back down to the lake shore and met up with Mom and Gary. We took a few more photos and then it was time to hit the trail. When we got back to the car, I removed my wet shoe and sock. At first, I tried to dry my sock in the front windshield and my sneaker with the AC Vent on the floor. After 30 minutes or so, I moved my shoe to the back window on Mom’s suggestion. A little while later, I moved my sock back there to get it dry.
We decided to forgo the Lake Louise tramway and instead we will do the one in Jasper tomorrow morning. Along the way to the Columbia Ice fields and Jasper, we stopped at several scenic overlooks. With a little bit of imagination, you can imagine just how awesome a spectacle it must be in the winter when all the lakes are frozen over. Let me tell you, it is not that bad in the summer as well. We stopped at Payto Lake to look at the Crowfoot glacier, and as we made our way towards Saskatchewan Junction we encountered a mini-traffic jam as a young black bear decided to cross the road near the Weeping Wall, much to the delight of the tourists (including us!). Another great aspect of this highway is that there were tons of hanging waterfalls due to the high temperatures (around 90F). Each time we stopped at a turnout to take photos, I would check my shoe, and it was certainly drying.
After an hour and a half, we finally made it to the Columbia Icefields and the Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park. We were trying to decide if we wanted to pay the combined $100+ fee to take a tour tractor out onto the glacier. When push came to shove, we went for it. I was glad that we did as well. We had to go back to the car to get our gear, and I had to put on my slightly still damp sock, but mostly dry shoe. Despite the many noisy tourists (some who even kept talking louder to the point that the tour guide had to shush them), it was an amazing adventure. We took a bus up the lateral moraine of the glacier and then transferred to an icebus thingy, which took us out onto the actual glacier. The tour guide told us to stay in the turnaround area due to the dangers of the crevasses, but I was amazed at the number of people who just took off out over the regular glacier proper. I am glad I took my sweatshirt because it got breezy up on there and a bit chilly. We decided to heed the warnings and took our 15 minutes in the immediate area and posed for some photos. All in all it took about an hour from start to finish, but well worth it if you are in the area.
It was then time to finish our trek up to Jasper. We only made one more stop this time at Sunwapta Falls. People had mentioned that it was majestic and beautiful, and while it was beautiful, it was not majestic. It was a nice smallish area to walk around and I took some good photos, but we did not want to linger too long as it was now approaching 6pm. I still can’t get over the fact that it stays light up here until after 10pm. Before too long, we descended into Jasper’s outskirts and made a b-line towards the Fairmont Jasper Springs Hotel.
Talk about luxury! Mom is a Presidential Club Member so they had all of our check-in details at the bell desk so we didn’t even have to go inside. We found our cabin – yes that’s right we are staying in one of a series of linked cabins (usually in clusters of 5). When we got to our room it was a bit steamy since it had been so hot and they do not have air conditioning. We started airing out the room and then headed down to the main building where we enjoyed an expensive dinner, but you could not beat the view. The terrace overlooks the lake and the grass with the Rockies in the background. We stayed well past dinner just to linger and soak it all up. We didn’t realize that it was after 9pm (again its still bright outside).
Back in our bungalow cabin, Mom and Gary socialized with our neighbors on our porch as I finished my Doctor Who episode (SO GOOD!). In the middle of downloading the photos on the laptop and beginning my journal, an elk just happened by our patio. It lingered for quite a bit chewing on the clovers in the grass before it continued on its way. The sun finally set on our day and it was time to call it a night. Mom really wants to spend another night here, and I don’t blame her – it really is the pinnacle of our vacation. Tomorrow it is off to the Jasper tramway and then the long trek into Edmonton.