Saturday, July 16, 2011

Rocky Mountain High

We did some exploring today around Jasper National Park. The Canadian Rockies contain 5 or 6 national parks, the biggest of which are Banff and Jasper. Both parks, and some of the others as well, have remnants of some of the glaciers that formed the valleys and lakes in the mountains. The most accessible one is the Columbia Ice Field, which we passed on the way to Jasper. This is an extremely popular tourist attraction, since visitors can actually walk on the glacier, but the parking lots were overflowing when we passed, so we didn’t stop. The last time we visited the Canadian Rockies, something like 20 years ago, we did visit the ice field and did walk on the glacier. It was cool. (Sorry.)

Diesel prices have been dropping since we started this trek. In the Maritimes, we paid about $1.32/liter. Outside of Calgary we paid just $1.10/liter. Then we got to the Rockies. The last fill up was $1.60/liter. This area is pretty remote, so I assume the price reflects the cost of delivery. I had a cheese burger for lunch in Jasper today and it was $16.00, but that was with fries.

We did come across a couple of “elk jams” today – that’s when tourists jam up the road to get a look at an elk. I generally don’t like to participate, but I just had to get the picture. So here it is.


We also spotted a coyote on a ridge above the road, but so far no bears. That’s probably a good thing. BTW, I bought a can of bear spray and a couple of whistles to carry when we hike in the woods around here. Most bears don’t like noise, and will allegedly run from the sound of a whistle. The bear spray, which is a strong pepper spray (and illegal in New Jersey), is for those bears that haven’t read the manual.

We saw a sign in a gift shop somewhere on this trip that said something like “when hiking in bear country you should always carry a whistle and pepper spray. You should also learn to identify bear droppings.  For example, black bear droppings will contain berries. Brown bear (AKA grizzly bear) droppings will contain pieces of whistles and smell like pepper.”

Below are some more photos of these amazing mountains.















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