We’ve just returned from a few days in Jasper National Park. Our route from Calgary was circuitous, as we drove from Calgary to Edmonton late Friday afternoon and on Saturday morning caught the train from Edmonton to Jasper. This was our first time traveling on VIA Rail. We found train travel to be quite relaxing – lots of room to spread out to play video games, enjoy DVDs, read books, do homework or watch the scenery passing by the train car windows. However, the train doesn’t really stick to its posted timetable. We had to stop several times on sidings to allow freight trains to pass and ended up arriving in Jasper about an hour later than we had expected.
One local geocacher, Daps, has set up several geocaches in Jasper townsite and the surrounding area. So after we scouted out a few restaurants and checked in at the Jasper Park Lodge, we went on a short driving tour through town to hunt down three of his hides, finishing just in time to head off for an early supper.
Sunday morning we drove a bit north and east of the townsite along the Maligne Canyon road to Medicine Lake. This lake has some interesting geology, but we’re not going to share the details here as we’re planning to request approval to set up an earthcache at this location.
We also stopped at the Maligne Canyon parking area to check out the impressive falls and make our way over to another Daps geocache before we finally drove to the trailhead for our planned hike for the day. The guidebook we borrowed from the library recommended starting at the 6th bridge in Maligne Canyon and then hiking upstream to the Maligne Canyon parking area. The hike description included the phrase "most impressive canyon in the Canadian Rockies." And while this is probably true, we certainly don’t agree that this is a "must do" hike. We found the trail between the 6th and 5th bridges to be a ho-hum walk through the woods. The trek from the 5th to 4th bridge was a muddy slog. Starting just upstream from the 4th bridge the geology started to get a little more interesting, with several karst outlets and inlets. But our advice would be to drive to the Maligne Canyon parking area and walk downstream to the second bridge before retracing your steps. We’ll be checking some other guidebooks before we make a return trip to Jasper.
After scraping the mud off our boots we drove about 20 km north of Jasper in search of BCP028 for outforthehunt’s Brass Cap cache, which we’ve mentioned in earlier blog entries. It was a scenic drive, but there is a lot of heavy truck traffic on this highway.
Sunday afternoon we enjoyed a swim in the heated outdoor pool before enjoying a fine supper at one of the restaurants at the Lodge. Mr. GeoK and the GeoKids enjoyed their swim so much that they returned to the pool Monday morning while Mrs. GeoK walked along the lake shore, camera in hand.
The train was on schedule for the return trip to Edmonton and we had an uneventful drive back to Calgary, arriving home a few minutes before 9 o’clock. Mr. GeoK clocked about 750 km of driving this weekend. Including the brass caps we found during our drive to Edmonton we logged 7 brass caps and 5 geocaches this weekend. We really enjoyed our time in Jasper and will definitely visit again – but next time we’ll drive along the Icefield Parkway from Calgary.