Jasper Aug/Sept 2023

We decided to stay overnight at the airport Marriott on Wednesday eve for the Thu morning flight to Edmonton. The flight/rentals and logistics, thankfully, remained mundane, and we arrived at the Fairmont in Jasper National Park at about 8 p.m. The smoke from the BC fires hung ominously in the air, but the accommodations on Lake Beauvert were suitably inviting.

On the morning of September 1, we took a stroll around the banks of Lake Beauvert, a leisurely couple-mile stroll made exciting by our first encounter with an Elk family. We headed out for a busy itinerary that included visiting Edith Covell, Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls, and a quick look at the Honeymoon Lake. Due to a minor navigational error by our wingman, the travels took longer than necessary but were enjoyable nonetheless. Our sore bodies welcomed the late afternoon reprieve of much-awaited cocktails. The food at the lodge didn’t offer much to talk about, but there were other reasons for the food to be forgettable.

Sat, Sept 2nd, after the ceremonial walk around the Lake, we headed out for the Maligne Canyon hike. It was an incredible, picturesque hike in the pristine environs before the BC smoke could percolate back in. An intricate subterranean cavernous system drains the Medicine Lake into the Maligne Canyon from 10 miles away. It’s a beauty to behold, natural engineering, elegant and flawless.

We walked around Lake Annette in the evening and ran into a large elk family.

Humans and elks share a similar bond—a long line of cars gathered around the OMG moment. The patriarch elk, with a coronation of formidable antlers, provided a protective cover and tactfully tried to coax the younglings to safety from the prying eyes. The baby elks for the want of wisdom or the tug of playfulness stayed behind. It was adoring to see the patriarch wait and then walk back the younglings to safety.

On September 3rd, we headed out on the Valley of the Lakes hike. We were there very early and alone on the trail. Near the end of our path, a majestic bear resplendent in solid black fur appeared from nowhere and casually walked across the track and blended in the woods on the other side. It was an unexpected and memorable experience. Still, safety compelled us to change our plans, and we decided to turn back with surging excitement from this sudden and mesmerizing encounter.

In the afternoon, we headed out to Maligne Lake and the coveted Spirit Island cruise. It was a mostly cloudy afternoon with elusive breaks in the clouds. The incredible experience included towering cliffs, many glaciers, endless waterfalls, epic scenery, occasional drizzle, and an obligatory dip in the glacier lake.

Monday, September 4th, we headed back home, but not before a buffet of mouthwatering scenic spectacles. The Icefield Parkway is a fantastic drive. We were duly blown away by the mighty Colombian Icefield and many glaciers. Back on the parkway, we had an incredible surprise waiting for us. We were stunned to see a mama grizzly with two cubs feasting on berries only a few feet from the highway. A crowd had gathered, and Mama Bear kept a weary eye on the cubs but mainly remained unconcerned by the attention the family was getting. The elk family affections seemed no different than the grizzlies. The anti-social media has not breached the family bonds across the species yet.

Our next stop at Lake Peyto introduced us to the spectacular emerald waters surrounded by towering cliffs displaying nature’s treasures in an unabashed exuberance.

The glaciers, waterfalls, and serpentine glacier run-offs continued to embellish the parkway. We stopped to take a few photos of Lake Bow, another spectacle.

We arrived in Lake Luise around noon time. Lake Luise is inundated by tourists now. It had none of the pristine solitude I remembered from my first visit in 2012. The BC smoke, crowds, parking, etc., seemed to dim the glitter in this jewel.

At about 3 p.m., we got in the car and headed to Calgary. We had a bite at the airport and boarded.

Wheels up!

Till the next time

– Brij

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