Sunday 7th June
We spent the night in a cold basement of a private home in Jasper. Thank goodness there was a warm doona.
Another eventful day on the Rocky Mountains and beyond. Initially the plan was to drive to Edmonton where Donnis had previously arranged to meet family who were camped at a place called Smokey Lake. Her plan had called for us to be there on Saturday and stay over the weekend. Because we had an extra night at Lake Louise that plan went out the window. Just like many of our plans which are not set in concrete.
It was a wow day for us.
Before leaving Jasper we thought because we had missed Athabasca Falls yesterday, we could drive back into Jasper National Park for 30 Klms and find the falls. Wow, this is still the Athabascar River but has now been fed by numerous creeks, streams, rivulets and brooks all swollen with meltwater. The falls are huge with water rushing through a slot like chasm in the surrounding rock. The noise made normal conversation difficult.
Just below the falls was an area of relative calm where a white water rafting company launches its adrenalin charged tours. I have white water rafted and canoed in Australian Rivers where for the most part the water is if not warm at least not chilly. The water in this river is worse than chilly. It is hypothermia inducing cold. The paddlers have to wear wet suits to stay warm.
We left the falls and instead of returning to Jasper on Highway 93 we took the backroad known as Highway 93a. Highway is not a good description as the road is barely wide enough for two cars to fit side by side and there are no shoulders but there are deep gutters along the side of the road. We took another gravel road to Moab Lake which we soon discovered led to an isolated camping carpark and a lengthy walk through dense forest eventually led to the lake. This is bear territory so we decided not to look for the lake.
Once back on 93a no sooner had I said, “with luck we will see a bear here” when we did! A Black Bear was wandering beside the road. We stopped, naturally, to take photos. It was an exciting moment for us. Donnis stepped out of the car with camera although the bear was walking away and she only went as far as the rear of the car. Despite that margin of “safety” we still felt a little nervous. What if another bear was nearby?
After seeing the bear we drove back to Jasper and turned east to Edmonton.
Not far out of town beside a lake, traffic stopped. A young Elk was grazing beside the highway. Buses, trucks and cars all stopped and an amazing number of cameras and iPads and smart phones were taking photos.
A few Klms further on traffic stopped again. This time a group of Long Horn Sheep were eating something on the road verge. Cliffs on the opposite side of the road also had a larger group of sheep looking on.
Less than a Klm around the bend was a group of Mountain Goats but there was no room to pull up to take photos.
Late in the afternoon we arrived in Edmonton Donnis home as a young girl and teenager. We met and had a meal with Melanie J, daughter of Darlene J, Donnis friend since elementary school who died tragically in Hawaii two years ago.
After dinner we arrived at Donnis cousin Pat K who still lives in the family home in downtown Edmonton. Sorry for arriving so late and keeping you up to midnight Pat. Thank you also for giving up your comfortable bed for us. We are grateful.
.We drove over 400 Klms today so no rocking was required to lull us to sleep.