While house sitting in Vancouver the owners of the house had suggested we take a trip up to visit the world famous Banff and Jasper National Parks. The opportunity wasn’t one to decline and so after checking in with our neighbours to ask if they would kindly watch over the house for a few days during our absence we pulled the snow chains out of the basement and packed as much warm clothing as we could find into the car. Driving north – east from Vancouver on the Trans Canada Highway the surrounding countryside slowly became more and more like the set of a Peter Jackson movie.
When travelling during the winter months it is law that you have either winter tyres fitted or are carrying snow chains and a few hours into our journey it was evident why. The road conditions became increasingly poor even though the skies were blue and the sun shinning, with temperatures below zero, any water collecting on the road became ice. We were held up briefly while an accident was cleared, a chap had lost control coming out of a corner and spun out of control flipping his car multiple times as it skidded down the highway. Quite a sobering site and one that brought us back down to earth with a thud.
Continuing on our way we drove further into the stunning landscape of the Rocky Mountains and after stopping over night in the town of Golden to refuel both the car and ourselves we headed out on the last stretch before sunrise the next day. We were incredibly fortunate to hit Lake Louise just after sunrise and enjoyed a walk out onto the frozen lake where we ate our breakfast in the snow as the sun rose over the surrounding mountains.
Lake Louise is the quintessential Canadian mountain escape. The alpine lake is situated at the base of glacier-clad peaks that are at the heart and soul of the countries love of outdoor pursuits. The emerald colour of the water comes from rock flour carried into the lake by melt-water from the surrounding glaciers giving summer visitors crystal clear waters for picturesque paddling, while during the winter months the water freezes into an ice rink that would complete any festive wonderland scene.
Our trip was planned at the last minute and having spent the last six months in Central America we were unequipped for the freezing temperatures in which we found ourselves. As we sat by the lake in layers of woolly hats, coats and trousers the temperature gauge on the car read minus twenty one. I have never before experienced the sensation of your breath freezing to the inside of your nose as you inhale, the sensation was quite alarming, however the breathtaking setting in which we ate our muesli was more than enough compensation.
With recorded temperatures of minus fifty four during winter months the activities in the area surrounding the lake are limited to cross-country skiing, heli-skiing and snowboarding, however during the summer months mountain biking, horseback riding, rock climbing, kayaking and canoeing are popular past times as well as hiking the numerous trails around the lake.
Driving further into the wilderness we entered Jasper national Park famous for it’s glaciers that fringe the mountain year round. Although over cast and threatening to snow we were so transfixed by the scenery that we drove as far as we dared into the park before turning around and heading back towards Banff. It would be spectacular to visit during the summer months when the snow melt has turned the arctic wilderness into a lush carpet of green highlighting the crystalline glaciers high above.
Have you visited Jasper during the spring or summer months? Share your trip report with us below.