• Day39

    Bearing up in Jasper

    August 6, 2017 in Canada ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    After meeting up with Matt and Ellie at the hostel the night before, I had secured two great road trip buddies for my day ahead. I had decided to drive South down the Icefields Parkway past Athabasca Falls and towards some of the big glaciers. It was only just over an hour's drive but I knew there'd be plenty of scenic views to stop and take photographs. The aim was to get the car back to Jasper before 5 ready for my evening wildlife tour.

    Despite the 29 roommates, I possibly had the best nights sleep I've had in a while! The strict rules regarding quiet time and curfews clearly works.

    The 3 of us and Cora headed out about 10 and on leaving the town of Jasper saw multiple vehicles pulled over at the side of the road with tourists pointing and jumping up and down excitedly. Naturally we stopped to see what the fuss was about. Matt went to investigate. With little patience, Ellie and I went to investigate ourselves to find him running towards us shouting 'BEAR!'. Thankfully said bear was not running after him but curled up in a tree only 20ft or so from the road. Naturally the surrounding tourists were very excited and taking photographs of this rare sight. It was a rather large black bear. We stood close to a Park Ranger who had turned up moments after us bearing a paint ball gun. This seemed like the safest spot to stand. There went my theory of climbing a tree for safety should I encounter a bear. I couldn't help wondering if he was in a sort of Winnie-the-Pooh predicament and needed a balloon to help get him down. Sadly I didn't have one to hand. Pretty soon, the ranger asked all the bystanders to get back in their cars and drive off. In reality I think the poor creature was probably a little stressed with all the attention. Silly old bear. Still, that was one BIG thing crossed off my Canadian Bucket List and with photographs to prove it. We couldn't have been more thrilled.

    Our first stop along the road was Athabasca Falls. Whilst no Niagara, they were equally mesmerising and dramatic. Nothing quite stirs the soul like the sheer power of nature especially when it is so treacherous. There were several memorials and reminders of how dangerous these landmarks are. The silly things people will risk for the perfect selfie.

    To give you an idea of the vast beauty of this landscape our supposed one hour drive took us over three while we stopped at multiple view points to stare at mountains, lakes and rivers. Hiring the car was the best decision I could have made. I could not have seen so much of this fantastic scenery without it or at my own leisure.

    Driving in Canada proved to be even easier than the States if only because there was so little traffic and the roads were wide and straight. I took comfort from the fact that Ellie fell asleep on the way back to Jasper which I took to mean she felt comfortable enough with my driving to do so. Of course there's a possibility it was sheer fear that made her shut her eyes!

    With a sigh of relief I returned the hire car in one piece and headed to the meeting point for my evening wildlife tour. I have to be honest, it wasn't really what I expected. In essence we sat in a mini bus being driven up and down several main roads around Jasper looking for wildlife. We were rarely let off the bus and due to the heat there wasn't much wildlife to be seen! I had expected to go into a bit more wilderness! That being said we did see several Elk. On driving back into town the driver suddenly exclaimed and slammed on the brakes and shouted 'look right' (if only he'd said BEAR right) and sure enough a baby black bear scrambled up the rock embankment. I managed to get a couple of shots much to the dismay of the 7D owner next to me with the fancier lens who wasn't quick enough. I am not wearing my smug face at all - honest. The driver was kind enough drop me back at the hostel and I managed to get to my things just before 'lights out'. Yet again I found myself to be the last one up in the big peaceful hostel lounge. With so many bears about, all camera batteries needed to be fully charged!
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