This is the second guest post by Adam’s dad as Adam, Anna, Cyndi and I toured the Canadian Rockies and Glacier National Park. There is a previous introductory post as well as additional posts on our stops at Jasper National Park, Lake Louise, Banff National Park and Waterton International Peace Park in Canada, Glacier National Park in Montana, and Custer State Park in South Dakota.
The first “real” stop on vacation was Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada, but we first had a couple days of driving into Canada.
A Long Day of Driving
We drove for 16 hours and 903 miles before stopping the first night in Minot, North Dakota. Along the way, we stopped to stretch in Jameston, ND and saw the world’s largest buffalo and White Cloud; a living, albino buffalo.
We also discovered Jameston is the birthplace of American writer and bit actor, Louis L’amour (1908 – 1988).
Due to the late arrival that night, we stayed at the Hampton Inn in Minot; a nice place to stop for a short sleep before another early start and another long drive the next day.
Edmonton: Home of “The Great One”
When we got moving the next morning, we headed northwest from Minot for another 14 hours and 732 miles to Edmonton, Alberta for our first night of camping. Since we are big ice hockey fans, we enjoyed an unexpected “hockey fix” when we drove through Edmonton and saw the Rexall Center, the venue in which the Edmonton Oilers play. We took pictures with the statue of Wayne Gretzky, where “The Great One” started his career. We also arrived in Edmonton just in time for a 7:00pm Sunday night mass at Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples; a catholic church built in 1913. We were warmly welcomed at this unique Edmonton inner-city parish that had a aboriginal theme in its decor with many mentions of The Creator, spirit, and nature. We then enjoyed dinner afterward at a nearby Thai restaurant and drove a short distance just outside of Edmonton to Glowing Embers RV Park, a nice campground for a quick overnight sleep before another early start the next morning on the way to Jasper.
Jasper National Park
We arrived early Monday afternoon in Jasper National Park after what seemed like a short drive of only 5 hours. We took the obligatory picture in front of the national park sign (it’s a dad thing!) and enjoyed the mountain river and lake views when we drove into the small downtown area.
After arriving, we gathered some information from the Jasper Visitor Center (a must stop in any new town), enjoyed lunch at a local microbrewery called the Jasper Brewing Company, purchased the necessary bear spray for our hikes ($35, but never needed it, thank God!) since there are bears in the area.
We then headed over to Whistler’s Campground where we would camp for our next 2 nights.
My First Glaciers – Mt. Edith Cavell
After a quick camper set-up, we were off to the first of our many hikes on the trip: a 45-minute trek to the Angel Glacier and Ghost Glacier, both on Mount Edith Cavell (elevation 3363 meters or 11,033 feet). It was sad to see pictures showing just how much these glaciers had shrunk the last few decades. Mt. Edith Cavell was so-named in 1931 after a British nurse who helped soldiers on both sides during World War I.
Jasper Tour Company; a great way to see the park!
The next day in Jasper, we took a guided wildlife tour with Jasper Tour Company and highly recommend our guide, Joe who made it fun and informative. He took us through waterfalls, showed us thousand-year-old fossils in rock formations, and spotted a black bear, eagle, and osprey for us and told stories of native folklore.
Our tour also included a boat ride to Maligne Lake, the crystal-clear and glacier-cold home of world famous Spirit Island.The next time you’re in the main concourse of New York’s Grand Central Station, look up at the ceiling to see a painting of this beautiful island… or just look at this picture I took!
After the boat ride, we packed our bear spray and remembered Joe’s advice that a couple of good “woop-woops” would scare off any wildlife during a 4.5k hike (about 3 miles) called Valley of the Five Lakes. Anna swam (albeit very briefly) in one of the very cold, glacier-fed lakes while the rest of us cooled off our weary feet on this day near 32 C (90+ degrees F).
Then it was back to the camper for dinner.