If you follow along on my adventures via my blog or Facebook page, then you probably saw my post about heading to Jasper for one day.
To say the trip did not go as expected would be a bit of an understatement…
So I left for Jasper on Thursday afternoon after work as planned; the skies were clear, the roads were dry and only a few flurries were predicted weather-wise.
About 4.5 hours later, I made it to Jasper, despite the spotty whiteout situation on the Icefields parkway. I saw the largest wild wolf that have ever seen in my life along the highway, as well as a couple of moose and a fox. So not bad for the wildlife viewing.
Upon making it to Jasper, I met up with an old friend of mine, Sara, at the Jasper Brewing company for a much-needed pint of beer and whole lot of catching up. Since it was the Jasper Dark Sky Festival weekend, I had been hoping to get in some star photography, but unfortunately the weather was not on my side; by the time we finished our beer, the clouds were moving in.
But that was okay, I had the whole next day to get out and take photos, I just needed to tuck in for a good nights sleep. I had brought all the right gear for the wintery camping conditions in Jasper, and nestled into my wool base layers, a fuzzy Patagonia sweater and a warm sleeping back and settled in for the night. I was absolutely exhausted, so when I half woke up at some point in the middle of the night and felt snow flakes on my face, I didn’t really think about it, I just pulled the sleeping bag up over my face and went back to sleep.
But when I woke up, I realized instantly that the quality of light was off. Early morning light takes on a soft, muted look after a fresh snowfall, and through my barely open eyes, that’s what I was seeing. I opened my eyes all the way and went to look outside through the window, and realized that it had indeed snowed. And quite a bit! I couldn’t see out at all!
I procrastinated leaving my sleeping bag for as long as possible, and it wasn’t until I crawled out and opened the door that I remembered I had left my boots on the ground outside the night before. I had meant to grab them when I crawled into bed, but there they were: sitting on a log outside, covered in about 2 inches of snow. It was a magnificent start to the morning…
I got dressed in the cold as quickly as possible, layering up until I was a bundle of down and fleece and finally warm again, topping things off with a toque and scarf. Then I headed into town for breakfast at Bears Paw Bakery, my favourite place to stop for baked goods and delicious coffee. Their raspberry white chocolate scones have been a favourite of mine for many years.
The snowfall and terrible road conditions had kind of kiboshed my plans for the day; The radio was advising people not to drive and I had seen first hand how slippery things were, so that, along with the incredibly low cloud cover that made it impossible to even see the mountains, kind of took sightseeing off my to-do list. Deciding to play it safe, I toured around Jasper Park Lodge (their art gallery is fantastic!) and up to Maligne canyon, but that was about as far as I wanted to go. I did a bit of window shopping and grabbed lunch, to give the snowplows enough time to get the Parkway clear and let the sun warm things up so that I could get on the road home.
At about 2pm, I decided that weather had warmed up enough that I could head out, so off I went. About 15 minutes outside of Jasper, I noticed my truck was pulling to the right, so I pulled over and…
Yup. That’s about the flatest flat that has ever been flat. Luckily I had a spare tire (and a full-size one!) under the truck, so I was back on my way. I squeezed in a quick photo stop at Athabasca Falls before heading out in earnest; my goal was to get to the Peyto Lake lookout while the sunshine lasted.
No such luck. While driving on the Icefields, the highway went from sunny and dry, to rain and fog to whiteout snow conditions, in a never ending circle of weather. And as luck would have it, it was a blizzard at Peyto, so no luck on the photos there. The snow continued until I got back to Lake Louise, where the sun miraculously came out and stayed out for the last hour of my drive back to Kananaskis.
So while the trip did not go as expected, and I didn’t get hardly any of the photos I was planning on, I still had a great time. Sometimes its the trips where things go wrong that become memorable.