Wild Life Tally
- 5 Bears Total (4 Black, 1 Grizzly)
- 1 Wolf
- 1 herd of big Horned Sheep including males with serious horns (The two males kindly hopped to one side of the highway to let us past. Whew!!!)
- Some Deer
- An Elk
- A Moose
Just to be absolutely clear, V and I saw the bears within the c confines of the car. People did actually stop to take pictures of the solo bruin. We had to slow down to accommodate cars and tour buses parked on either side of the highway. V and I figured we saw the bears and that’s enough for us.
Let’s back up a bit…
Mountain Top Experiences
While Jasper has numerous shops and restaurants, the main reason was the Jasper Tramway. A few years ago, I came to Jasper a day ahead of the annual Running Room Get Fit Weekend. A friend and I actually walked to the bottom of the tram line from town. (Distance: 7 K. Elevation: Don’t ask.) The Jasper Tram takes people up Whistler’s Mountain every 10 minutes. The time it takes to go up is 7 minutes although people can take a trail, again 7 K, up the mountain. I heard from one operator part of the trail still remains under 4 meters of snow, and still tough to trek with snowshoes.
V and I took the tram up with the goal of going up the 1 k trail to the top of Whistler’s Mountain. The trail looks visible at this time of year with not much snow. After hanging around the observation area, we stepped off to begin our march. We made two promises to one another:
- Either person can turn around and head down with no judgement passed.
- Either person must not fall off the mountain. (V insisted on that clause.)
On the way up stands a number of rocks one can sit down and rest. V and I employed trekking up to a certain rock then taking a seat. I felt nervous, V admitted to feeling a little freaked. We pushed ourselves, not each other, beyond the comfort zone. The agreement still stands if one doesn’t want to continue, the other can keep going. Some how a daring spirit took over and we kept going up and up and up.
We both felt winded with each step. My heart beat so hard, I thought it would pull an Alien moment and burst from my chest. Once things settled down we kept going as the elevation slightly raised itself. Honestly, the top seemed doable.
V exercised her right to the exit clause and encouraged me to keep going. She already made it farther than she thought possible and attempting the trek proved enough. I already went higher than my last trek, but not quite up to the goal. Feeling a little better, I pushed my way up to another set of rocks just below the last part of the trail.
I already felt winded, but gave myself enough rest to feel the urge to keep going. People came up, they came down, albeit slowly either way. One woman coming down said it took her an hour to come down to where we rested. The slope has lots of loose rock. Nobody needs climbing gear, but caution still rules with the loose rock possibly taking feet out from under people.
There are two ways to hit the summit. One involved going up the steep trail, while the other had a more clear path going around the mountain. Easy right?
The people in the shot take the steeper way up, the path lower down looks level if you ignore the huge drop off on the other side. The lesson: easy always looks deceptive. I elected to go steep. My body on the other hand cried ‘Uncle’. I pushed myself to the next rock and sat down.
I felt light-headed and nauseous.
Unlike the other times up the way, the thin air warned me this is quite enough and next time will turn me into an item on the CTV evening news. (I already pictured Lisa Laflamme stating, “In Jasper a scare happened today as a Manitoba tourist collapsed near the top of Whistlers’ Mountain.”) I was really close. How close?
I turned myself around after a rest and came down. For some reason I can come down quite well, nimbly picking my way around the rocks. I turned around one last time and felt no regret. I wanted to come back and got another shot at going up, even going up further than I thought. I have a next time and a motivator to get myself moving to my bike, the pool, or the gym.
Getting Up a Mountain Proves Easier Than Driving Through One
Going up the mountain proved the easiest thing in the world. It’s the heading out the national park proving the more interesting adventure. V traded in her phone for a new smart phone with a GPS app within my first few days in Alberta. Wonderful item in towns and cities yet useless in the mountains. We knew just enough directions to head down for a certain amount of time until turning left on Junction 11. The phone failed to register a signal as we headed deeper into our route. Did I mention we didn’t have a map?
The southern route took us up. down, and around the mountains. A number of turns had me clutching the steering wheel with white knuckles. We did see the Colombian Ice Fields, a place looking a little bit like a science fiction setting. We finally saw our Junction 11 exit, after overshooting it by 2 k, and turned towards home. (We actually stopped for directions after sheepishly explaining we didn’t have a map. He replied he directed many people with GPS gadgets and no maps. Yikes!!!!)
In the end we came, we saw, we climbed, and respected Jasper’s awesome mountain beauty.