Finally, I made it back to Jasper National Park! This park, combined with Banff National Park, and the Icefields Parkway that connects the two, were amongst my favorite places during my three solo years of traveling. This was a first visit for John, and I couldn’t wait to show him everything I loved about the place.
I had a site booked for us at Wabasso Campground, but knew that I really wanted to be where I was before… in a first come-first serve space at Wapiti Campground. This is a no frills spot, really nothing more than a big horseshoe shaped parking lot with electricity, but it’s convenient, offers a great view, and lots and lots of elk roaming through. During my last visit, many of them were very young… and adorable!
As we settled into our site at Wabasso, this little guy came by and snacked on pine cones while watching us. He reminded me so much of “Dougie”, the silly little Douglas Squirrel who used to visit me on our back deck and take peanuts from my hand. The Red Squirrel must be closely related to the Douglas. Other than the slightly redder color, they look like the same squirrel to me. (The second image below is a Douglas I found on a hike at Whidbey Island last year.)
John and I both love waterfalls, so our first destination was Athabasca Falls. Other than the volume (literally bus loads!) of tourists, the falls remained the same. Dramatic and turbulent are the words that come to mind, as the water rushes hard over the falls, and quickly through the canyon walls below. We saw a memorial for a young man who went past the fence to the waters edge above the falls, slipped on the slick rock, and was swept to his death. I’m constantly baffled by the number of people who disregard the warnings… about high cliffs, slick rocks, boiling hot geysers, and wildlife… in our parks. (Average of 312 deaths per year in the US National Park system alone. Few from natural causes, unless you count stupidity.)
It didn’t take long for our first Elk sighting. This young buck was just grazing along the roadway. Pyramid Mountani (below) looms over the town of Jackson. During this particularly cloudy day, she barely showed herself.
The following morning I hurried over to Wapiti Campground in hopes of securing a coveted campsite. Scored one, and then drove back to Wabasso to fold up and relocate The Beast. While settling into our new site, this handsome fellow wandered by…
Once settled we headed out to hike the Valley of Five Lakes. It was a pleasant trail, and thankfully not too crowded. And look! I found a few hearts along the way.
We moseyed our way to and from and around the many lakes surrounding Jackson… taking in the scenery and watching for wildlife. I have to admit, the wildlife wasn’t nearly as abundant as when I was here in June, five years prior. I’m guessing much of that is due to the season. John’s guessing the volume of tourists has something to do with it as well. This time around, there were plenty of Elk, but where were the numerous bears and cubs I’d seen, and the Big Horn Sheep? Making their way higher into the mountains after fattening up in the valley all summer, I guess.
We spotted another beautiful bull Elk near Lake Edith, and he humored me with a few quick shots before turning his back on me in order to keep a close eye on his harem.
While on our way up to Patricia and Pyramid Lakes we lucked out with a sighting of a young Grizzly Bear. Unfortunately so did a number of other tourists, which prompted the arrival of a park ranger, who proceeded to fire loud shots (blanks) to scare off the bear. It worked. As much as I hated watching the bear go, I know the ranger did this in an effort to protect lives… tourists and ultimately bear.
That afternoon we hiked out to Angel Glacier on Mount Edith Cavell, which was closed to hikers due to bear activity during my last visit. Angel Glacier got its name for its shape, which appears to be a white figure with outstretched arms. (Hard to see from the lower angle of my images.) Interestingly, the mountain itself was renamed (previously Fitzhugh) in honor of an English nurse who was executed by the Germans during World War 1 for having helped Allied soldiers escape from occupied Belgium to the Netherlands. The glacier itself is melting, and not expected to keep its distinguished shape much longer.
We arrived back to our site just in time to see “the regulars” return to their corner of the campground. This heard of elk reign here. The campground is actually named Wapiti (meaning Elk), and for good reason. I enjoyed the same gang during my previous visit, but since it was June, there were several youngsters, and no rut going on. I can’t help but wonder how many of these adult elk were the little cuties I photographed five years prior. (I’m adding one of those images below… this one in particular always makes me smile.)
This bull… the same one I photographed as we were settling into our site… was clearly feeling the pressure brought on by rut, and couldn’t seem to engage any of his harem in the activity at hand, so he wandered off by himself and took out his frustrations on the local flora before sitting down to pout. 🤣😂🤣😂
We had one more day in Jasper National Park before heading south on Icefields Parkway to Banff National Park. We spent that day kayaking on beautiful Maligne Lake. It was a full day, and the volume of images require a post of their own. So that’s up next… and soon! Warning… lots and lots of pretty pictures! 😜