Sun. Jul. 17, 2011: Edmonton ~ Jasper, AB
17.07.2011 - 17.07.2011
[* I packed away my journal, to avoid damage/loss, while camping, so I recall our time in the Rocky Mountain Parks from memory.]
I woke up first, laced up, took the elevator down to a lobby overfilled with boisterous post-wedding groups and tourists, and ducked out for a quick jog around sunny downtown before business was awake for the day. Edmonton has the feeling of Toronto, only cleaner and more comfortable. It warrants revisiting, but tapped out of navigating new cities, we were anxious to be on our way.
Quick drive by the World’s Tallest Cowboy Boot and the West Edmonton Mall, and we turned onto the Yellowhead Hwy again, westbound to meet the Rockies.
My breath was held with anticipation and my eyes never left the front window of the truck, lest I’d miss my first glimpse…And finally, when I thought I could stand it no longer, they appeared like ghostly apparitions on the horizon. I made Jer pull over and I jumped out and ran with my camera to the middle of the rest stop to get the picture, saying “Dude! Those are Mountains! There, they are – FINALLY!!” as some other parties of travellers, also stopped and stretching, looked on and giggled at me.
The rest of the drive to Jasper is a blurred memory of swearing in disbelief and smiling so much that my face ached, as the mountains grew closer and bigger and the air grew cooler and more pure.
I was awed by a sense of privilege, as we encountered an Elk, lying in the grasses on the roadside with a little bird roosting symbiotically on his antlers.
Soon after, we were halted on the Highway by some absent-minded big-horn sheep who were attempting their version of traffic control in the middle of the road.
Further on down the road, I giggled at the 3 white-painted bums mooning us as the Mama Caribou grazed in the ditch.
I realized our true proximity to nature when the Gate Attendant at Wabasso Campground warned us that Bears had walked right through our site earlier this afternoon…And as if to prove the point, we caught sight of a juvenile brown bear nosing for grubs at the tree-line as we came back to the main road, after dropping off our gear at our spot.
The next mission was dinner, so we stopped in Jasper Village to pick up some “fire-roastable” eats: turkey sausage, corn cobs, samosas and deli salads.
Our intention was to go back to our site and start the fire…BUT…The road to Wabasso is also the road to Mt. Edith Cavell, and our adventurous sides took hold of the wheel and we kept on driving…Past the campground, and up, up, and around and further up the Mountain, until we were parked at the foot of the trail leading upwards, along the glorious uppermost heights of Edith, to Angel Glacier and beyond. Her 3,363 metre peak was so close, so we walked for a bit, until the sun dipped behind her valleys and it began to get too undeniably dark to safely continue.
We were little people, alone on a big, silent mountain at that moment, a long way from home. I was truly happy.
It was too late for a fire when we returned to Wabasso, but we still had a great celebratory meal, (complete with canned Corona ‘Cheers!’), as we fumbled with the shadows of our food on the ash-and-sap-stained picnic table, knowing we were lucky to have use of the last remnants of light shining through the tree-tops as a guide, despite how late it was. (So amazing, so generous was this Western sky to still give us light at 11pm!)
Neighbouring sites were very close together – a little too close, I’d felt, upon first arriving, but it was a small section of the campground where we were, with only about 10 sites in a circle, and at night, there was a quiet camaraderie as the scattered silhouettes of campers sat, silently contemplating their fires under the waking stars.
And just behind us, flowing steadfast, the sound of the mighty Athabaska River sighing in completion of another day passed on its eternal journey was the lullaby that soothed us all to sleep that night…