Jasper, AB: The Town of No Elk
When we arrived to our campground just outside of town, I went for a little run into Jasper along the town’s trail system. The air was cold, but not uncomfortable and the run was fantastic. I ran 3 miles into town and back to our campground.I only had to touch pavement twice, in crosswalks. It is truly fascinating that a town that essentially closes for half of the year has a comprehensive trail system that encircles the entire town. I need to figure out an efficient method of taking pictures and video while running. Maybe I will start taking my phone with me, we will see. Once I got back to the campground, we had dinner and went to check out the river at night, together.
The riverside was beautiful. We walked along the water and took in the sights, hoping for a glimpse at the Northern Lights. I think we were still a little early in the season and early in the evening. The clear skies were still a sight to see. We relaxed into a really nice evening in the RV with some reading and a nice night’s sleep. Needless to say, we weren’t alone.
We awoke to the sound of a diesel hunting truck warming up for a while and the rest of the morning was peaceful. We had a quick breakfast, enjoyed the heated bathroom and drove into Jasper.
I have to mention something that I have written about in previous posts. Just because you pay $25USD for a campsite in a National Park, doesn’t mean that you won’t be parking in a parking lot with 100 other RV’s. That is the main reason why we try to camp off of the beaten path when we travel in our skoolie. There is more privacy, less noise, and normally a much better view. Be on the lookout for our next blog post in this series from a beautiful campsite just over the border into British Columbia.
We made the short drive into Jasper and needed two utilities really badly, coffee and laundry.
Skoolie Tip #003: Pack light. In the case of our bus, it is a 4-window, basically the smallest modern skoolie you can own. If we packed all of the clothing that we owned in it, we would not have room for gear or food. By having about a week’s worth of clothing and planning outfits that use multiple combinations of a few key clothing articles, we save space and the amount of weight that we have to carry into the laundromat.
We found both coffee and laundry in the Snowdome Laundromat in downtown Jasper. The concept of this business is genius. It is a laundromat that also serves coffee. Or it’s a coffee shop, with laundry machines. Either way, it helped us shave one stop off of our day of errands in Jasper. We spent a couple of hours there on a weekday morning and it was busy There were roughly 20 people drinking coffee and around 10 doing laundry. It seemed to be a happening place. I would give this place 5 stars, but they had timed internet, which as a traveller, is crippling and really challenging. When you have been on the road for a week, 30 minutes of internet isn’t a lot. Regardless, next time I am in Jasper I will go get a cup of coffee here even if I don’t need to wash the pants that I have worn for 4 days straight.
Once done with laundry and a resupply in Jasper, we took off for Maligne Canyon and Maligne Lake. The canyon is extremely accessible and has paved ADA walkways to most of the features of the canyon. The canyon runs so deep that you almost can’t see the water from the edge. We had only a limited amount of time at the canyon, but I am convinced that you could spend all day walking the trails to the different cascades.
Maligne Canyon was a nice break to stretch our legs and prepare for the winding and snowy road to Maligne Lake. The road passes by Medicine Lake, which is a site to see in it’s own right. Once you get to Maligne Lake the first thing you notice is the iconic Maligne Lake Boathouse that dates back to 1928. Donald “Curly” Phillips built the boat house to attract business to his hunting and fishing trips to the lake. He stocked the lake with trout that he transported in barrels to the shores. Phillips lived in the boat house until his untimely death in an avalanche accident in 1936. The house is now used as storage for rental canoes and paddleboat used by Maligne Lake Tours. As most popular images of this location reveal, the boat house roof is in fact bright red, we visited when it was covered by snow.
Winding back along the road from Maligne Lake we witnessed a couple of moose spending some quality time together and the crowd quickly gathered on the side of the highway to view the massive and majestic creatures. We left the moose alone and continued back to Jasper. We were rewarded for giving the moose their space with one of the most extravagant views that I have ever seen. It gives me chills writing about it months later. Pyramid Mountain, aptly named in the 1800’s for it’s appearance, dominates the horizon above Jasper and quickly became one of my favorite shots of all-time.
Jasper was an interesting place that we caught at an interesting time. During the summer, I imagine the hiking, biking, and climbing is spectacular. Likewise in the winter I can’t imagine the possibilities of winter activities. Shoulder season seemed like a great time to visit Jasper without the crowds, but also without the elk. We spent 2 days in Jasper and didn’t see a single elk. This was a little disappointing because the town center is known for the excellent elk population. The missing elk simply give us another reason to return to Jasper someday.
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