Monday, August 25, 2014

On to Jasper, August 23-24

Mt Robson, August 23

It's wonderful to get out of the tent and find a beautiful array of breakfast items ready to eat.  Especially delicious is bread, toasted on the fire.  We decide to spend the morning going on a short hike by Mt Robson with my parents.  It's very clear and we have a spectacular view of the mountain as we drive towards it.  
At the visitor's center, we decide to hike out to Kinney Lake, a short but rewarding hike.  When we reach the parking lot at the trailhead, we find it packed with cars.  This is a popular place!  Luckily, although the trail is busy, it is not as bustling as we expect. We take a long time to hike out to the lake, enjoying everything along the way.  The trail follows the roaring Robson River, which is glacial aqua-blue and full of fast-flowing rapids.  Signs along the trail teach us a little bit about the local geology.
As we get near the end of the trail, there are no longer rapids in the river.  It becomes quiet, flat water.  The lake is breath-taking.  Along the shore where we're walking are picnic tables and tent sites.  We stop to have a snack, skip rocks, and take pictures.  The water is calm, the same stunning aqua color as the river.  Along its edges, cliffs rise steeply to the mountains above.  On our left is Mount Resplendent, an enormous peak with a large glacier and clear avalanche paths.  On our right is Mount Robson, its striated cliffs towering over us. Quite the view!
Kinney Lake 
photo credit:

The hike back goes quickly, and we have a late lunch at the campsite (the hike took longer than we thought).  We spend the rest of the afternoon just hanging out and relaxing.  My parents go to see some giant salmon.  Even though the stove runs out of fuel, we still have a tasty dinner of soup and polenta.

Yellowhead Pass- Easiest pass ever August 24

We've had a horrible night of sleep.  A rowdy drunk at the nextdoor campsite has been cursing and complaining all night.  Fed up, we wake up early and pack our stuff.  Around 10 am we part ways with my parents.  It's a bit sad to see them go, but I'm very grateful for the time we had together.  
The first part of our bike is over rolling hills, and before long we're on a downhill shooting us towards Mt Robson.  It's as clear as yesterday, and the mountain is spectacular.  
We stop at the visitor's center to fill up water.  Right after, the road begins to climb steeply, but the climb is short and shoots us out onto a long, flat road that travels through an incredible mountain valley.  As we bike, we pass small signs that point up to the peaks and show their names and elevations.  The aqua-blue river we've been following turns into a giant lake named, rather oddly, Moose Lake (I would have expected a Moose Lake to be far more marshy).  

After the lake, we continue to follow the Fraser River, the same river that flowed quickly past our campsite, bright blue in color.  Up here near the headwaters, it is much slower moving and muddy brown.  We stop for a quick lunch on the side of the road.  When we reach the top of the pass, it's a surprise because the road has been so flat.  We feel like we have barely gone up at all (Yellowhead Pass is the lowest in the Canadian Rockies).  
Shortly after, we pass into Alberta.  Time zone change!  We lose an hour.  Lakes and rivers are replaced by marsh on the left, and the road hugs the cliffs tightly on the right.  So tightly, in fact, the rockfall has destroyed parts of the shoulder.  It's not long before we hit the Jasper park entry gate.  Our excitement is quickly squashed by the attendant, who tells us it is a $20 per night charge to stay in the park.  We pay for one night and decide to figure it out later, since it will take us longer than one night to bike through this large park.  On the way into town, we see a giant male deer right on the side of the road.  We're so focused on battling the headwind, and he's so quiet, that we almost bike by without noticing him. Once in town, we find the hotel that my parents have reserved for us.  It's very exciting!  Our room has a mini-fridge and a king-size bed.  What more could we ask for?  My parents have generously included dinner with the hotel room, so we shower and put on our nicest clothes to go to the snazzy Italian restaurant downstairs. Was it just by chance that they put us in the corner?  The food is absurdly expensive, but definitely delicious.  We finish our night in the hotel's rooftop hot tub.  How wonderful!

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