Posted by: Silver | June 29, 2011

Edson to Jasper via Hinton

Distance: 94 km + 81 km
Ascent: 749 m + 448 m
Cycling time: 5 hours, 50 minutes + 5 hours, 15 minutes

The unexpected detour via Whitecourt forced me to condense my stay in Hinton to just an overnight stop, but fortunately, I’d already done a phone interview with the local paper there several days beforehand, so although my stop was, sadly, vanishingly brief, I still managed to make sure the town knew all about SOS Children’s Villages. 🙂

The next morning, I set out for possibly the most enjoyable ride of my journey so far, and when you realize that I can say this despite the fact that I was battling against a fairly strong (if entirely expected) headwind almost all day, you may begin to appreciate just how special it was! The sun was shining – but not too hot, the shoulder was wide and free of both gravel and rumble strips, the hills were gentle, and most importantly, over half the route was inside Jasper National Park. Now, heading into a National Park, you sort of expect it’s going to look pretty nice, but even so, I was taken aback by just how spectacular it really was. A favourite track came onto my iPod: “Free your mind… all you have is now”; I could not keep the stupid grin off my face. 🙂 For once, I wasn’t the only cyclist on the road either: I saw three or four upright bikers heading the other way during my ride, some fully loaded, others obviously just out for the day (or else travelling really, really light). However, I was slightly baffled – and saddened – to observe that none of them seemed nearly as ridiculously happy as I was – and they even had the tailwind! Perhaps they were just sad that they didn’t have a ride quite as cool as Ranger… 😉

The rest of my time in Jasper continued in similarly fantastic (if hectic!) style. Thanks to my host’s connections in the tourism industry, I was able to take a cruise on Maligne Lake (regularly voted one of the most scenic tours in the country, apparently), and climb to the top of Whistlers mountain (admittedly not quite as impressive as it sounds, since the first 1000 m of elevation gain are accomplished by cable car; the remaining 1 km hike up to the summit is still no mean feat, though: do not be fooled by the fact that I passed a couple of girls attempting to do it in flip-flops – there was actually still snow up there!). Given my love of all things water, though, it is perhaps no surprise that the highlight for me was my first ever experience of whitewater rafting! OK, so it was only a class 2 stretch of the Athabasca (about as tame as whitewater gets), but there was at least one wave higher than my head (I know, because that’s what it came down on top of), so I feel I have been truly baptised into another exciting corner of Canadian life. 🙂

So, quite apart from being able to spread the word about SOS Children’s Villages to yet another town, Jasper was definitely a lot of fun. But was it really worth climbing the Rockies a second time for?

Oh yes.

Once again, the mountains surprised me: the highest point isn't actually in the Rockies at all, but half way to Hinton

I took so many pictures on my way to Jasper, it was hard to choose, but I think this gives a fairly good idea of what was making me smile so much 🙂

But it wasn't just the large scale views that were beautiful in the park...

Maligne lake. Yes, the water really was that colour: apparently, it's all to do with the way the tiny particles washed down by the glaciers reflect the light...

It was here that I was introduced to the concept of the 'Bear Jam': roads blocked by tourists taking photos of any passing bear

But I guess you can't really blame people for causing a bear jam when they look so cuuuuuute!

Climbing all the way to the summit of Whistlers Mountain is great: when you get there, you can get a 360º view of the clouds for miles around... OK, so it probably would have looked more spectacular on a sunny day, but alas, my schedule didn't allow me the luxury of waiting... 😦

... but at least I wasn't alone at the summit 🙂

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Responses

  1. Can I use your photo of lake maligne for the background of my non commercial personal website/blog? It is very beautiful! Thank you,

    Adam

    • Hello Adam,
      Thank you for asking: I’m happy you like the photo so much! I have no problem at all with you using the image on your personal website, but since the reason I was in Jasper and able to take that photo was because I was raising money for SOS Children’s Villages, could you possibly include a link to my giving page (https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/triking-around-canada-for-sos-childrens-villages/) on your site as well please, so that the charity can hopefully continue to benefit from my journey? Thanks so much, and best of luck with your studies!
      Silver

      • Sure sounds great! thank you!


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