Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Canada: Jasper and Lake Louise


One Scenic View at a Time

Lake Louise and Jasper, June 2013

 The trip started well.

Arriving a night before our friends, Tom and I stayed at Hilton Garden Inn-Calgary Airport.  It is a ten minute drive from the terminal.  Clean. New. Quiet. Reasonable price.  The friendly and helpful staff recommended Cora's Restaurant  for a great place to have breakfast. Cora's is a small restaurant that specializes in breakfast but it also serves lunch. Started in 1987 in Montreal, the business grew and as of 2012, Cora's had 130 franchise restaurants throughout Canada. In 1990, The Cora's Foundation was established to aid children in need.

Located within ten minutes from the Hilton and the Calgary Airport, Cora's was an excellent choice.  The added feature?   It is also located in Sunridge Mall so if you forgot anything, now is the time to stock up if you are headed up to Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper.

By the way, we rented a van from Thrifty/Dollar rental agency.  We had a horrible experience at the end of our trip with this company.  I strongly suggest think twice before you rent from them.  Read my story under the Lake Louise photos.

Monday morning we picked up Don and Sharon at the Calgary Airport and...off we go! 


Jackie and Sharon in the front seat driving north toward Jasper.  Yak. Yak.  Yak.
Oh look!  Our first scenic view.
The guys are in the back seat - sightseeing - napping - looking at the maps.
 

Day #1:  Calgary to Jasper

The drive from Calgary to Jasper, with short stops, took us 6-1/2 hours.  We snapped photos of the scenic views as we headed north on the Trans-Canada Highway through Banff National Park,  Ice Fields Parkway and Jasper National Park.



Bow Lake views on our way to Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada


Bow Lake views on our way to Jasper National Park


Big Horn Sheep grazing along the highway.



Bow Lake views on our way to Jasper National Park

Alpine Village Cabin Resort, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Sharon and I carefully surfed the Internet last March and made the decision to book the Alpine Village Resort in Jasper.  My vote was based on reviews of Trip Advisor for Alpine Village at Jasper National Park.  Sharon was totally swayed based on the pictures of the moose that grazed in front of the cabins.  That's my Sharon!  The place is gorgeous.  Happy girls equals happy guys.

P.S. Tom will want you to know that the cabins have wireless internet connection.  Even though it is slow, he was happy to stay connected with the world!


Alpine Village Cabin Resort, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
The Office
Is this cute, or what?



Alpine Village Cabin Resort, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Cabins with Loft



Alpine Village Cabin Resort, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
The Grounds



Alpine Village Cabin Resort, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Cabin Q and R



Alpine Village Cabin Resort, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Rooms



Alpine Village Cabin Resort, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Bathroom (This was a big hit with the girls!)

 

Day #2


Breakfast at the Athabasca Hotel dining room
Downtown Jasper

Jasper National Park Tramway

Rain was forecast later in the day so after breakfast we headed to the Jasper Tramway.  This is a "must do" if the weather is good.  Once you reach the top you can have something to eat in the restaurant or continue your walk up the mountain. 

Jasper Tramway, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
The tram begins at an elevation of 4,279 feet and it ascends up to the top at 7,471 feet.
Note:  The silver box under the tram hauls water and propane fuel to the top where you can have a snack at the Treeline Restaurant.  The tram runs from April to October.

Jasper Tramway, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
View of the town of Jasper

Jasper Tramway, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
View from the top of the Tramway

Maligne Lake

The rain held off so we drove to Meligne Lake  for a lake cruise.  It is aobut 30 miles from downtown Jasper.  The boat ride lasted about 90 minutes including a stop to photo Spirit Island.  Maligne Lake is 80% glacier fed and 20% rain and snow water.  This is a pretty little spot.

Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
This is The Curly Phillips Boathouse, built in 1928, now a registered historic building and site.  Curly Phillips was a famous guide and outfitter that first came to Maligne Lake in 1911.  The boathouse is one of the last remaining building of Curly's backcountry camp.

Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Maligne Lake, Spirit Island, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada



Meligne Canyon

Meligne Canyon is located a short distance from Meligne Lake on your way back to Jasper.  The walk paths are paved by very hilly.  We walked a distance going down but there are also great views going up from the main bridge.  At the end of the loop you will find a gift shop, bathrooms, and the parking lot.  Minimum time to see most everything is one hour unless you dilly-dally, which is easy to do!


Meligne Canyon, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Meligne Canyon, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Meligne Canyon, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Meligne Canyon, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Meligne Canyon, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
This shot was taken on the walk down the canyon.




Elk video taken on our drive from Meligne Canyon

The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, Alberta, Canada

Just a few miles down the road from Meligne Lake and Meligne Canyon, and a very short drive from downtown Jasper, is The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.   We stopped in for a cocktail and a "look see".  It is a fairly large complex with a variety of lodging style structures.  From what I gather, it's claim to fame is a golf resort and convention center that can accommodate a lot of people.  Although very nice, I prefer a quaint and small place to stay.  But, that's just me.  The parking lots are FAR away from the lodge.  The cabins, duplexes, hotel suites, are also FAR away located in separate sections on the grounds.  If it is raining, windy, cold, snowing, you won't like the long walk to the lodge, especially at night.  And, if you have problems walking, ask how they may accommodate you.


The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
Alberta, Canada


The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
Alberta, Canada


The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
Alberta, Canada
Pretty flower boxes


The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
Alberta, Canada
Lobby and Public Areas


Dinner:  Tekarra

Dinner tonight was at Tekarra Lodge Dining Room.  It is a cute little place and within walking distance from our Alpine Village Cabins.  Tom and Don selected outdoor dining which was quaint, quiet, and gave us a chance to enjoy the outdoors even at the end of the day.  After dinner, we took a short walk to the bluff where you can sit on comfy Adirondack chairs watching the river rafters.

Tekarra Lodge Dining Room
Jasper, Alberta, Canada

Sitting on the bluff at Tekarra Lodge
watching the rafters.
Day #3

The Pines Restaurant and Pyramid Lake

The Pines Restaurant, Pyramid Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Pyramid Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
View from the deck of The Pines Restaurant


Pyramid Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
View from the pier

Pyramid Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Flower Boxes on the outside deck of The Pines Restaurant

Pyramid Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Vintage poster hanging the The Pines Restaurant and available for sale at the gift shop.

Pyramid Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Colorful chairs outside the restaurant

Patricia Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Patricia Lake is just a few minute drive from Pyramid Lake.  There is a bathroom in the parking area and a handicap ramp that winds it way down to the paved trail.  It is a nice short flat walk with some nice spots to take photos.  Off the main path are little side paths that go to the shoreline so you can "look see" as long as you want.  Picnic tables are available if you brought a snack, lunch or cup of coffee with you.  This is a good spot to get out of the car and take a break.

In the area of Patricia and Pyramid Lake, we saw a large amount of Aspen tree groves.  Their trunk is long and it has a unique feature of black knots, similar to our Birch trees.  The bark looks very pale green.  Although the leaves were green during our visit in June, they turn a spectacular bright gold/yellow in the fall.


Patricia Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Patricia Lake picnic table



Patricia Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Patricia Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Patricia Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Mid-afternoon we took a drive to Mt. Robson  in British Columbia.  It took about two hours to reach our destination because we stopped to take photos and take short hikes for photo opportunities.  Coming home?  It took us only one hour to return to Jasper.

Mt. Robson
British Columbia


Mt. Robson, British Columbia
 Visitor Center


Click here for more information about Yellowhead Pass 


Grizzly Bears
Driving on the highway to Mt. Robson, about 70 mph, we spotted three grizzly bears .  By the time I could stop the car and back up slightly, Sharon was half hanging out the window snapping the camera.
 "I see bears!  Stop!  Go Back!  Bears! Get the camera!"
There was a third juvenile bear but it was already behind the trees.  That is one big fella in the front!  We feel lucky to have seen the grizzly bears.  Not everyone is so lucky.   The hump on the back of it's shoulders is a distinguishing feature of the grizzly.




Yellowhead Pass
 

Dinner in Jasper:  Fiddle River Restaurant and Smoked Seafood Chowder Soup

After our adventures at Mt. Robson, we drove back to the town of Jasper for dinner, and a good one it was!

Our choice was  The Fiddle River Restaurant . It was a pleasant surprise and had we stayed another night in Jasper, we would have eaten here again.  The Smoked Seafood Chowder soup was fabulous, unusual, and so good that we wanted to make it when we got home.

The chef shared some of the ingredients but not the recipe.  I am going to try to replicate the soup.  It may take me a few times but I think I can do it.  This is a creamy soup.  If you want to try, here are some of the key ingredients:
Smoked Salmon
Liquid Smoke (very small amount)
Cumin
Dill, fresh
Tarragon, fresh
Fish Stock
Heavy Cream
In the Soup:  a few fresh muscles, large shrimp, small bits of potato, carrot, chives, celery, onion and leek.

Hey! It's 10:30 pm and it is still light outside.


Twilight Dawn: 4:35 am
Sunrise: 5:26 am

Twilight dusk: 11:11 pm
Sunset 10:30 pm

Day #4

Mt. Edith, Jasper National Bank

On day four we left Jasper, but not before one last stop at the world famous Bear's Paw Bakery  for our last cup of coffee and hot sticky cinnamon bun. We headed south toward Lake Louise where we planned on staying two nights.  It was raining but we didn't come all this way to sit in the car so off we went to start our sightseeing for the day.  About ten minutes south of Jasper, we made the turn off for Mt. Edith.

Mt. Edith, Jasper National Park
This is the road leading up to Mt. Edith.  It snake trails all the way up.  No trailers or motor homes are permitted because of the narrow winding road.




This black bear was relaxing in the woods just off the road.
He did not seem to mind that everyone was outside their cars taking pictures, including us.

This fellow was munching on dandelions in the road ditch.  Eating was his mission. We watched from the car and he went on his way eating, eating, eating.











Here is our video of the bear we found eating on the side of the road.



Mt. Edith, Jasper National Park
Scenic view on the drive up to Mt. Edith.

Edith Cavell plaque.
Click here to read about Edith Cavell.





Tom took this video on his walk up to view Angel Glacier at Mt. Edith




Mt. Edith, Jasper National Park
This is the trail head that leads to a viewpoint of the glacier.  Tom walked a part of the way and waiting for him was a Park Ranger anxious to tell him all about the glacier.

Athabasca Falls

After our 15 minute drive down from Mt. Edith, it was still drizzling so we pulled into the parking lot to scan the map for an idea of what to see next.  Athabasca Falls was not too far and it was on our way to Lake Louise so we said, "let's go."  The falls have been sculpted by glacial ice and river water. Spectacular.

Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park

Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park

Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park

Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park




Athabasca Falls video

Here is where the trip gets a little stressful. 

It was still raining when we left Athabasca Falls.  We drove a few hours and at 1:30 pm we stopped at the Columbia Icefield Retaurant  for lunch only to find out that all hell had broken loose regarding highways and bridges from the Icefields to Calgary.  Oblivious to the impact of all the rain, we learned that there was a mudslide on our route to Lake Louise.  The road was blocked with gates.  We were 1-1/2 hours from Lake Louise but could not get to it.  There are no detours.  There are no other roads.  The roads were also closed behind us toward Jasper so we could not return.  Ah-ha.  That's why there were no cars coming toward us. 

And that's not all.

There were mudslides and washouts over roads and highways everywhere from our location south all the way to Calgary.  Bridges were washed out as well as railroad tracks.  You learn quickly that when you are in the mountains, you have little options.

What now?   We grabbed sandwiches and snacks "to go" and headed out fast.  Our only option was to chance it and drive south to the Saskatchewan River Crossing to see if the road to Lake Louise was reopened.  If not, we had to change plans - all of them. Upon arrival at the River Crossing we saw our road was block due to a mud slide.  We called and cancelled our reservation at the Post Hotel in Lake Louise only to call again and re-book when the road opened an hour later.  We filled the gas tank and got in line behind the road block.  At 3:15 pm, we were on our way.


Mudslide being cleared on the Icefields Parkway, Saskatchewan River Crossing
 

Mudslide being cleared.  We were 7th in a long line of anxious people to get going.
Saskatchewan River Crossing




Post Hotel, Lake Louise

We arrived at the door of the Post Hotel at 4:30pm.  What a relief!  We were ready for some luxury and this is the place to get it.  Tom and I have stayed at the Post Hotel before so we were very much looking forward to being pampered here.  Upon check in we immediately noticed every available staff person was river side placing sand bags to prevent damage to the cabins.  We were told we were lucky to have made it because the road we came in on was now closed to all new traffic.    The staff said that Post Hotel guests who visited the town of Banff for the day were denied access to return to the Post Hotel.  Imagine.  All your things are in your room.  Calgary had just issued a state of emergency due to swelling creeks and raging water that was washing out homes, roads, and bridges.

Post Hotel, Lake Louise
Staff moving sandbags to the Bow River to avoid damage to cabins

Post Hotel, Lake Louise
Bow River cresting


Our horrible Thrifty/National rental car story begins here. Thursday night.

The photos show the reason why Calgary and the surrounding areas were in a "state of emergency".  Roads and bridges were washed out and closed.  Travel was at a stand still and people found themselves unable to get to or go to their destinations, including the airport.    When you are visiting a national park right in the middle of the Canadian Rockies, there are few alternative road routes.  We learned Thursday we could not get to Calgary for our flight home on Saturday.  We checked out of the Post Hotel a day early (disappointed) and used Friday to wind our way out to potential alternative routes.  Driving two hours toward one route, we found our road was closed.  What now?  Find an airport nearby.  Tom found a regional airport and we drove an additional four hours where United Airlines and WestJet were fabulous at helping us change flights.  Hold on - what do you mean Thrifty/National, who has an airport office, will not take our car?  Under any circumstances.  And, were not alone.  Others told us they received the same answer.  After forty-five minutes on the telephone talking with Thrifty/National supervisors, they basically gave us the finger and said no, no, no.  They did give us one solution.  Drive an additional five hours to Vancouver where they will take the car.  What is the lesson learned here?  Rent from a car company who has a policy to accept a rental car anywhere they have an office.  You may pay a drop off fee, but that is what trip insurance is for because after all, life happens.




Post Hotel, Lake Louise
Staff placing sand bags on the river to protect cabins.


The Post Hotel is the perfect place to relax and enjoy your surrounds.  Take a look.

Post Hotel, Lake Louise, The Lounge

Post Hotel, Lake Louise, Dining Room Fireplace

Post Hotel, Lake Louise, Dining Room

Post Hotel, Lake Louise
The Library, my favorite place in the entire hotel.
After the dinner the four of us had coffee and dessert here.  We then played a few hands of bridge while listening to the burning logs in the fireplace crackle and pop.  It was a great evening.
 

Post Hotel Wine Cellar

The Post Hotel wine cellar has an inventory of over 25,000 bottles with more than 2,200 selections.  Inventory is estimate to be over $2 million.  It is impressive to say the least and we enjoyed the interesting tour.
 
 


 
 

Dinner and Wine

Of course, after a tour of the wine room we had to carefully select a bottle for dinner.  The wine, food and service were superb. 
 
 
 
 
 

Day #5

 Lake Louise

For over half the year, Lake Louise has snow and ice.  That does not stop the thousands of people who visit here every year.  It is beautiful.  We had a breakfast buffet at the Fairmont Lake Louise which was excellent. 
 


Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada





Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake in British Columbia was our last sightseeing stop of the trip.  It was a good one!
 
Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake




 
Emerald Lake

 
 

Happy Trails to You!!

 
 
 



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