A tourist magazine we had picked up recommended a bohemian shopping district in Edmonton along ten blocks of “Whyte Street”, so we decided to hit that before heading out of town. In fact, they specifically mentioned a wonderful breakfast place, which we were definitely in the mood for. We found the district and started walking the main drag. We finally found the suggested restaurant, only to discover it only serves breakfast on Sundays. Grumble, mumble, gripe. By the time we had suffered this crushing blow, it was getting later than we had hoped, so we returned to the bus and started making our way out of town. Our plan was to hit Jasper National Park, and we had read that the campgrounds typically filled by 15:00 (3:00 pm, American) and they didn’t take reservations. Zut Alors!
So, back on the Lemonhead Trail headed west towards Jasper. As the day progressed, it started getting grayer and grayer. There were a couple of very brief and light mistings of the windshield, but nothing that looked like it would become full rain. We finally stopped in a small town just outside of Jasper to get groceries and to poke around at an Info Center. While there, I asked about the overcast skies, and learned it was primarily from forrest fires in BC. Sacre Bleu!
As we approached the park, we were excited to see sizable mountain peaks looming up from the valley floor. Yay, we’re in the Rockies again! Although the grey skies made it tough to see anything but a hazy silhouette, it was still wonderful to feel like we were out of the plains. And more than that; we have talked a bit about some of the highlights of the trip thus far, and we both retained very fond memories of the camping in the mountains in the very early days of the trip. This area had very much the same feel. We found a good camp site with little hassle, and I spent some time building the foundations for a campfire for that evening. We took a bit of a hike through the campground to a small set of falls, mainly just to stretch our legs, and (as it turned out) to feed the local mosquitos.
Returning to the campsite, we decided to drive 15 km to Miette Springs, a developed hot springs in the park. It took a while to get back to it, following a twisty mountain road, but the effort was definitely worth it. We settled into the first soaking pool and leaned back to realize the skies had cleared considerably and we had a great view of the adjacent mountain peaks.
Between the hot and hotter pool, a cold plunge, watching deer and mountain goats graze in the grassy fields next to the area, and watching the sun set on the granite hillsides, we were very relaxed and happy. Dusk is coming pretty later around here; we left at 22:00 and it was still rather light outside. We stopped for a late dinner at a small restaurant just outside the springs and took 2/3rds of it back to the camp to enjoy as leftovers later.
Although we didn’t get back to camp until 23:00, I decided I couldn’t let my early campfire preparations go to waste, so I started a small fire. Ahh, we must be back in the west, because the fire caught with a single match. Although I resisted started a raging inferno, the fire burned nicely for an hour or so before we decided to turn in for the evening. Mmm, if all camping was this good, I wouldn’t have stayed in a hotel a single night on this trip.