Maligne Canyon. The next day, I decided to take it easy: I would do a quick walk around downtown Jasper, complete a short hike, eat, drink coffee, and relax. For one, I was exhausted from Wilcox Pass. Secondly, the weather was scheduled to rain from mid-afternoon onward… which it did. When doing my research on attractions in Jasper, I came across Maligne Canyon, which I think is the deepest canyon in the Canadian Rockies. I opted to hike to the canyon through the forest, mostly along the river, passing clear pools of water, and then hike back along the mountainside with a great view of Jasper and Pyramid Mountain. For me, the hiking was the best part, since the trails weren’t overly crowded, which made for some great thinking time. Maligne Canyon itself was quite pretty, with waterfalls and raging rivers. However, as I approached the main tourist section (i.e the main canyon, bridges, parking lot, gift shop, etc.), I realized that I don’t particularly enjoy hoards of tourists, so I took in the sights and was on my way. The rain began once I got back to the car, so the rest of the day was fairly uneventful… which was the best way to relax! I did manage to get a coffee and a sausage roll at Bear’s Paw Bakery. This bakery (and it’s second location) is pretty much THE place to get baked goods and coffee in Jasper… so good! Of course, the line-up is never fun :S.
|Walking along Trail #7 toward Maligne Canyon|
|Maligne Canyon. And the tourists (including me :S)|
Mount Edith Cavell. On day 3, it was time to leave Jasper. I’m not sure when I’ll visit Jasper again, but I’ve learned never to say never, and to treat a ‘goodbye’ as ‘until next time’. That morning, I made another trip to Bear’s Paw Bakery for my must-have morning coffee, I filled up on gas and hit the road for the long trip back to Calgary. Of course, I’d be making stops along the way. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, so it would be a waste not to enjoy the Icefields Parkway as much as possible. Shortly after leaving, I noticed a turn-off indicating a lookout for “Mount Edith Cavell“. Alright, I thought, I’m going to go see that. After 5 km, I hit another turn off indicating it would be another 14 km to the lookout. It ended up being quite the detour from Highway 93, but the winding roads were very scenic, and I was able to see my first of two bears that day! (Thankfully, I only saw bears when I was in my car, and not while battling them face-to-face on a hiking trail!)
|Downtown Jasper. Oh, the memories…|
|A bad photo of a bear. So cute. And so dangerous.|
|Approaching Mount Edith Cavell|
It was absolutely worth the detour. Approaching Mount Edith Cavell, with all her snow and majesty, was pretty incredible. After finding a parking space, there was a short hike along the Path of the Glacier Loop to a glacial pond at the base of the mountain where icebergs and ice caves were visible. The landscape was stunning. What I didn’t realize beforehand was that there would be two glaciers to see- Cavell Glacier and Angel Glacier. Mount Edith Cavell rises to an elevation of 3363 m and can receive quite a bit of snowfall, even in the summer months. I marvelled at the scenery, and after about an hour, it was time to hit the road once again…
|Cavell Glacier (bottom left) and Angel Glacier (top right)|
|Icebergs in the glacial pond|
|Exploring an ice cave|
Athabasca Falls. Another 18 or so kilometres later… and after a second bear sighting… I arrived at Athabasca Falls. It’s a quick stop off the highway, which makes it another very busy place to visit. The daunting Mount Kerkeslin is poised over the raging falls, which I read is the most powerful waterfall in the Canadian Rockies. I basically ran in, navigated through some people, took a few photos, and was out of there and back on the road in no time. It’s definitely worth a stop :).
|The Athabasca Falls and Mount Kerkeslin|
|Rainbows are so pretty!|
Parker Ridge. In addition to reflecting on the last ten years, I wanted my mini-escape to include at least two good hikes. Wilcox Pass was challenging, so I opted for an easier hike on the way back. About 9 km past the Icefield Centre is the parking lot for Parker Ridge. It’s a very popular hike in the summer. The trail is about 5 km return and is a very straightforward path with a series of switchbacks. The elevation gain is 250 m- so not nearly as high as Mount Wilcox, but still high enough for a good workout with some amazing views from the crest of the ridge. From the ridge, you can see several huge peaks surrounding you, as well as a great view of the Saskatchewan Glacier. So it may not be the tallest ridge to summit, but the views more than make up for it.
|This is an interesting sign!|
|Hiking up Parker Ridge|
|The ascent to the ridge|
Luckily, I didn’t find any unexploded warheads. That would not have been good :S. The hike took me about one hour and forty minutes- 50 minutes up, some time wandering and taking photos from the ridge, and a sprint/trail run down that took about 18 minutes. At this point, it was about 3:30 pm, which meant I would make it back into Calgary at a decent time. I had a voracious appetite, so I quickly ate my awesome roast beef sandwich from Bear’s Paw Bakery, passed some bighorn sheep on the road, and drove the rest of the way home. I was tired, but incredibly happy about my adventure. It was just me, the road, the landscape and my thoughts. And lots of singing to Beyonce songs. Like, 3 days worth of singing to Beyonce songs.
|View from the ridge|
|At the top of the ridge. It was so cold and windy!|
So what did I take away from all of this? Well, let me just say that the time I had to myself this past weekend was exactly what I needed. I mean, how often do we consciously decide to block off time for reflection? To have a few days to stop and think about my own progression over ten years is priceless. And not just over the last decade… but all of the choices I have made and experiences I have endured. They have all led to the man I am today. Of course, I also thought about what I want for my life in the many years to come, God spare my life. There are many things I know about myself- the way I am, how I deal with certain situations, my expectations for myself and others, and how I view certain things around me and in the world. I have many capabilities and many short-comings. There are also things about myself I just don’t quite understand. This weekend allowed me the time and opportunity to think about these things. I had jotted down many notes over the three days with the intention to write a blog posting to help solidify my thoughts, but I realize that some will change as I change. Call it a work in progress. Truthfully though, I realize that I want to keep this part of the trip to myself. :) There’s a lot of reflection time to sort through…