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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day 57 to 59: Banff to Jasper

We had hoped for a couple of days of sunshine. We were, after all, heading out on a stretch of road billed by National Geographic Magazine as "one of the world's ten greatest drives." What we got were a couple of days that covered almost the entire weather spectrum, save an out-and-out winter blizzard. Wardrobe adjustments were almost as frequent as astounding mountain vistas, and that didn't even take into account the unanticipated change into cowgirl gear required on account of turning up in Jasper on the same day that the rodeo arrived in town. Yes, it was a busy couple of days, and we did and saw it ALL!

There were bold-as-brass bighorn sheep sauntering along the roadways we traveled, as well as those much more elusive white mountain goats scampering along a 90 degree cliff face...Come rain or shine, nothing was stopping them from putting in an appearance on this much-traveled scenic route. We were equally delighted by the little bridges that these and other animals are using to traverse the TC on the lower part of this drive...They are actually working in that road kill is down by 80 percent on the parts of the highway that they have been installed.

Heading up the Icefields Parkway which runs between Lake Louise and Jasper, we stopped in at gorgeous Lake Peyto - catching it in a welcome splash of sunshine. Our trip out onto the actual Columbia Icefield, however, was a-splash with the wet stuff. That said, it took more than a drop or two (hundred) of rain to dampen our spirits: we were amazed by this monstrous slab of glacier with its icy blue ridges and gushing rivulets - our photo count of this spectacular natural phenomenon almost equalling that of the golden mantled ground squirrel encountered in Johnson Canyon one week earlier.

Our time in Jasper was split between the wilderness delights of Maligne Lake and Canyon by day - the latter providing us with our best scenic hike to date - and the slightly unsettling spectacle of the Jasper Rodeo by night. Let's just say that the kid's rodeo parade on their stick ponies was probably more our pace...But hey, when in the west you gotta do as the westerners, so an evening of steer rustling and bucking broncos struck us as a highly appropriate way to bring our month or so in Alberta to an end. Needless to say, we wore pink.