August 10 2017
Destination: Jasper National Park (Alberta)
At this point, only my sister was recording the distances travelled. I hope to insert these later.
We woke up really early in order to get on the road and hopefully snake a campsite as someone left. We were on the hunt for the perfect spot!
But… we missed the turn for the 93 highway and ended up about 45 minutes west rather than north. Christine was driving, and she felt really badly about this because we’d been so dedicated to our mission and she felt she threw us off. I wasn’t too worried as I trusted the universe to have taken us in that direction for a reason. I hoped it wouldn’t be a big deal for her. And we saw some beautiful sights that we wouldn’t have seen without going in that direction. We corrected course, headed back, and hopped onto the icefields highway. The site we checked first and wanted most was Icefield – Tents. A tent-only campground, which usually means quieter and fewer kids. The sign said it was full, but we pulled in anyway. Lucky again! We got a fantastic spot with full sun and stunning view of the icecap across the highway. It was meant to be! And if we hadn’t been late, the people who’d camped there the night before would still have been there, which means we may have passed it over.
Because it was so early, we made the most of the full sun. We did our laundry by boiling water and scrubbing things in our dishwashing bowl. It took forever and made my hands ache, but I knew it would feel so good to get into clean clothes. I was just about at the end of my underwear, so today was the day! Then it was Christine’s turn to do hers. We set up lines to hang our clothes from, but we ended up draping them over everything, including our tents. I had my cloth pads snapped to my tent frame, in case anyone wondered what kind of women were at that particular site!
It was incredibly hot and we probably should have been covered up or sunscreened, but we were just so happy to be warm and settled so early in the day. While we were cleaning, a chipmunk ran into Chirstine’s car! Oh wow, it was a riot, I’d chase it out one side and it’d hop out and right back in! It was running around like a mad thing, climbing her interiors right to the roof. Eventually we drove it away – and made sure to keep the car doors closed after that. It had been after the can of beans from the night before that we didn’t thoroughly wash.
We decided that because the icefields highway wasn’t on our route as we were driving through Jasper to British Columbia, and then BACK through Banff, that we would drive them that day. I’m so glad we did. I really wanted that experience and it was one to remember. We made lots of stops for photos, and we decided to hike Bow Summit to see Peyto Lake. It was a massively steep, though paved, hike. Not too long, just hot, and quite busy. When we got to the top we had to very patiently wait our turn for photos of the lake without other people in it. But we got the photos we wanted and someone took some of us as well – since we took shots of them first. The photos they took weren’t that great but not everyone is a professional like my sis! It was nice to have some photos of both of us that weren’t selfies.
We also did a little 300m hike called Waterfowl Lake, and we saw grouse! The mama was so precious and the kiddos were pretty dumb but adorable. We had a great time taking photos and watching them be ridiculous. The lake was beautiful too. We were in our sandals so even the short hike was a bit of a risk, but it was worth the stop. I find every stop is actually worth it. If you can make the decision in the moment to pull off the road and switch gears, do it. Sometimes I was comfortable in the car or my feet hurt from the previous hike, and the last thing I wanted to was get out of the car and do something difficult and lose the momentum. But so much of this trip was about momentum, forward movement, the next day, the plan, that it’s nice to take moments to stop and see the silly bird creatures and the pretty water and the quiet.
We stopped for ice cream after the hike and it was delicious but so expensive. Since I live in a town that triples in size in the summer due to tourists, I know all about price gouging. But I spent $8 on a bag of ruffles chips and I wanted to cry. However, they were the best $8 bag of ruffles I’d ever had, so what can I say? Sometimes you make poor financial decisions because you’re hot and hungry and want what you want. No excuses! Own it.
It began to get late and we still had a lot of camp chores to do so it was time to turn back. The icefields was such an inspiring, uncanny drive. There was one mountain that loomed and it was SO CLOSE and so massive, it actually caused us anxiety to look at it. Driving those winding roads was a challenge and a gift. I’d never want to get used to that. I wonder if people feel that way about fall in Muskoka, with the scarlet and orange leaves. Well, don’t worry. I’m not jaded by that experience. I was glad I wouldn’t miss that because of our trip. The leaves would wait to change until I got home.
The drive was definitely somewhat stressful. There were a lot of cars on the road, a lot of buses, and really narrow roads around winding passes and up and down steep slopes. We pulled off many times in order to take photos and take a breather. We got back to our campsite and all the clothes were crispy from the sun. We packed up and I stayed up for a bit reading at the picnic table before I returned to the tent and went to bed.