Impressions of Jasper (Alberta)
We have been fortunate to spend a week in Jasper (Alberta) which forms part of the Canadian Rockies. Jasper typically plays second cousin to Banff which is better known and more frequented largely due to its proximity to Vancouver and Calgary. We have yet to visit Banff, but Jasper has been a real highlight. It is small (5,000 permanent people – swelling to 25,000 in high season). This suites us – a country town.
In driving to Jasper we left British Columbia and entered Alberta. Some of the differences we have observed:
- Tax is lower in Alberta – (Standard 5% federal VAT, but BC also has its own 7% GST on top)
- Cars in Alberta do not require a number plate on the front – looks strange
- One of the other strange things not mentioned previously is that in most Café’s you order and collect at the counter and then clear the table yourself placing stuff in containers provided. Oh, and you still tip but not the 20% expected elsewhere.
Whilst in Jasper we have stayed in a great cabin (Pine Bungalows) and having been fortunate to snag it at the shoulder rate has saved us a lot of money. Good thing, food and supermarkets are not cheap in Jasper – typical for tourist mountain villages.
Jasper has a lot to offer in the way of easily accessible hikes – we completed numerous – all so spectacular – can’t get enough of mountains and water. We even managed to complete one of them as a run now that Glenda is feeling better. Just in time to get ready for the Banff half marathon we will be running in a week.
On the animal front we have been fortunate to see:
- Grizzly Bear – what a treat
- Brown Bears – seem to be a lot of them around, we even saw a cub
- Numerous sightings of Elk, Deer, Caribou
- A marmot – supposedly part of the squirrel family but much larger than squirrels
- A Pika – part of the rabbit family but very small (about 15cm)
- Many squirrels
- Numerous birds and we now know the difference between crows and ravens
We completed numerous walks whilst in Jasper. One of our walks was to Pyramid Mountain. This was a great trail through varying terrain. It also took us to Pyramid Lake.
Whilst on this walk we came across a bride having photos taken at Pyramid Island.
Another enjoyable walk was up to the summit of Whistler Mountain. We took the easy way taking the gondola up and then only having to climb a further 200m. The gondola goes up from 1300m to 2300m and the summit is at 2500m. The climb from the gondola top station to the summit is still a little bit challenging especially because we still had some snow to navigate.
We were the first people to summit on the day and part of the reward was seeing a marmot and a pica on the trail. In Jasper they have placed red chairs on some of the trails indicating a place you should sit and relax and enjoy the view. We found a few of them.
On one of our walks we came across some stables with many horses – available for tourist to ride. We did not ride but got talking to one of the senior hands – a guy from Switzerland. We had a long talk.
Then on Sunday attending a local church we found out that he is actually a pastry chef by background but works at the stables in summer because he loves the horses. He had made some lovely cinnamon buns – yummy. The church was small which allowed us to spend time talking to many of the locals.
On one of our nights out for dinner opposite the train station we witnessed the arrival of the Rocky Mountaineer. Many people asked us whether we would be going on it. Sadly our budget does not stretch that far.
We have been hoping to spend some time looking at the stars given we are far from the bright city lights. Unfortunately with sunset after 10pm it is still not dark at 11pm and well – that is after our bedtime. Hopefully we get a chance later on the east coast.
For entertainment in the evenings we would put on our “Bush TV” also known as a fire.
On our last night it snowed – and wow – the mountains looked amazing with a new dusting of snow. This meant that the drive was sure to be spectacular. See following post for more.
With no fixed address and constantly on the move we are becoming better at settling in a new place very quickly. We also continue to improve our packing/unpacking. Whilst we don’t travel lightly (this is our whole life) we are adept at packing quickly and don’t lack for anything. This year we have tried using packing cells and they have made a great difference. So convenient when living out of suitcases. We have also started using compression bags which are useful for reducing the size of our washing.
Whilst we are sad to be leaving Jasper – it will be interesting to see how Banff compares. However, we will be staying in Canmore which is a little outside Banff. It is supposedly like Banff was 20 years ago – a smaller village. We will see.