Being a woman, and in need of a vacation i saw Bonnie Way’s article, “Jasper, Alberta: A Great Girlfriend Getaway.” The beautiful scenery set a sence of tranquility as i was reading her story. I am desiring a getaway just like this after her explanations of the beautiful scenery, getting away from exams to enjoy outdoors instead of stuffing our noses in our studies. Bonnie Way sold me on the trip to Jasper, Atlanta for sure.
“It’s too bad we’ll be driving the most scenic part of the highway at night.”
We’d miss most of the mountains that made the last hour’s drive between the park gate and the town of Jasper so beautiful.But as our truck followed the curves of the highway through the mountain valleys, I realized how wrong I’d been. A full moon hung low in the sky, casting its silver glow over the snow-capped mountains, wide rocky riverbeds, and smooth ice-bound lakes.
A short bridge took us across to an island on the lake, dotted with picnic tables and benches for best viewing the scenery around the lake. In March, the bridge wasn’t necessary — the lake was frozen solid and we could have walked out to the island. Smooth, white snow spread out for miles around us, stretching across to the foot of the mountains rising on the far edge of the lake.
Some hikers before us had made a snowman on the lake, who grinned merrily towards the bridge while pointing one stick hand up at the mountains over his shoulder. The early afternoon sun brought out the shadows and contours of the snow covering the peaks and made the snow on the lake into a million pieces of cubic zirconium sparkling at us.
As we rambled back along the trail, lost in our thoughts, I caught sight of a large elk standing just up the hill from the trail.“Don’t look left, Carrie,” I said in an even voice as I reached for the camera on my belt. Big animals made her nervous, and so Dawn and I kept up a smooth, rambling conversation, just to let the elk know we were there, while we continued our even pace past him. Another curve in the trail made us pause at the sight of nearly half a dozen more elk. Instead of heading to the trailhead at a parking lot near the Jasper Activity Center, we decided to take a shortcut straight down the hill and back into town, leaving the elk to peacefully munch whatever dry grass they could find.
Athabasca Falls is another popular tourist destination, crowded with tour buses in the summer, but virtually abandoned in March. Here we found more ice than other places we’d hiked, because of the spray from the waterfall. The steps and walkways were icy, particularly the stairs which were no longer stairs but instead a slide.The falls themselves had frozen into icy white formations, with turquoise-green water bubbling and churning in small holes, hinting at the spring to come. Though it was much less water than usually flows through the falls, it had worn the ice as smooth as the rocks around it that had been polished by thousands of years of water.