Located in the Athabasca River Valley, Jasper is a townsite established in 1813 and part of a trade route called New Caledonia. Jasper National Park was established in 1907. Seven lakes surround the townsite, including, Pyramid Lake, Patricia Lake, where Project Habbakuk, a secret government experiments was performed during WWII, creating a prototype 1.10 scale model of a 2,000 foot long unsinkable aircraft carrier from ice and sawdust; Maligne Lake, famed for the color of its water and Spirit Island; Medicine Lake, Lake Annette and lake Edith.
We begin with a morning tram ride that ends just 3km from the summit of Mt. Whistler. We hadn’t been prepared for a hike, but since we were wearing tennis shoes, we thought “Why Not?” Huffing and puffing, we made it to the top. There are only about 20 days each year when it is clear enough to see Mt. Robson….this was one of them!
In the early evening, we hopped on a bus for a wildlife tour and were rewarded with the sighting of a male elk the size of a draft horse on the side of the road. His antlers were humongous!!! Luckily he was more concentrated on eating then charging. All wildlife roam freely in the park. We were told stories of bear attacks, elk attacks, moose attacks….yikes….oh, they do sell bear spray….similar to pepper spray, if confronted by a bear, I’m sure I would be so disturbed I would spray myself in the face!
River rafting was next….what a blast!! Because of the cold river water, one must be prepared to don a full wet suit, rubber mittens, rubber booties, splash jacket, life jacket and wool cap….and be prepared to change in a school bus with strangers. We were handed our paddles and marched into the forest and river beyond. Word to the wise, don’t get into a boat with small children…they can’t paddle, don’t like the splashing once it starts and you must take up the slack in maneuvering the raft downstream. All in all, DO IT….you will scream with joy at the exhilaration of the roller coaster ride.