The Canadian Rockies Pt 3: Jasper National Park

After 8+ hours of driving, we arrived at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and this view.

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The lodge was gorgeous! Very lodge-like, with hotel rooms like luxe cabins spread across the property.

We settled down at an outside table for a cocktail, and ended up staying for dinner. After a long wait for our meal, all we wanted to do was shower and go to bed.

We woke up the next morning feeling fairly refreshed and met at the main lodge for breakfast and to plan the day’s agenda. It was decided that Chris would go mountain biking, while Joe, Bridget and I would go on a nearby hike to the Valley of the Five Lakes.

I’m so glad we went on this hike! Not too long and not steep at all, it offered us views of five amazing blue and green glacier lakes. We did the short 4.5km trail clockwise, hitting the lakes in sequential order.

It was absolutely beautiful – Lakes 3 and 4 were probably the most stunning at the time we were there (I imagine the colors change with the weather and seasons). Definitely a must-do if you are looking for an easy-going activity while in Jasper.

We all met up back in downtown Jasper for lunch before heading to Maligne Lake and the boat cruise to Spirit Island. We discovered this amazing deli on Patricia Street, called Patricia’s Deli. You HAVE to eat there if you’re in Jasper. It’s a tiny tiny place, but the food is delicious… so good that we came back the next day on our way out of town.

We headed to Maligne Lake. At first, I wasn’t sure what the fuss was all about… it was highly touted in the guidebook, but we had seen a LOT of lakes and mountains thus far. I wasn’t sure how this view would be any different or more special. But then, we saw this:

As the guide explained, Spirit Island is the perfect foreground to the “box canyon” made by the mountains beyond. So perfect!

After the day’s adventures, we ended up in downtown Jasper looking for a casual meal. We ended up having dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant called The Raven. I would definitely recommend it as well! Low key but very good food.

The next morning, Joe and I were on our own for a hike, and decided to brave a trail we’d heard of called the Sulphur Skyline. The actual “Skyline Trail” is the most famous in Jasper – but more of a backpacking/overnight trip, which we weren’t prepared to do. So the Sulphur Skyline trail it was.

We parked at Miette Hot Springs, where the trail to the ridgeline began. As expected, it started off uphill and never, ever, stopped.

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WTF face

Relentless would be a good word to describe this uphill hike. Thankfully we were prepared for the climb, and we had been at elevation for a few days at this point. If this had been a first day hike… it would not have been pretty! Also, in my trail research I had learned that there were obvious “shortcuts” on the switchbacks… taking these (while even steeper than the general path) saved us a bunch of time.

The last 1/5 of the climb is finally above the treeline, climbing straight up a rocky, Martian-like landscape to the summit. Then, you’re there:

It was truly an amazing, incomparable view. I loved every minute of being on top of the world! We made some friends, exchanged photo opps with them, enjoyed the serenity for a moment, then headed back down the way we came.

People always say that down is worse than up. It’s hard to believe that as you’re ascending over 700 meters up a mountain, but… down sucks. Be careful! If you do this hike: wear good shoes, drink lots of water, watch your steps carefully. And bring chapstick! Windburned lips = not so pretty. I’m still paying :-/

We reached the bottom of the mountain, high-fives each other, and headed back to the lodge to pick up our friends for the drive back down the Icefields Parkway. To Banff!

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