Here we are in Jasper – Jasper, an alpine town in Canada’s Alberta province, is the commercial centre of Jasper National Park. Amid the snow-capped Canadian Rockies, the park has glacier-fed lakes, forests and rivers. The Jasper SkyTram climbs to the summit of Whistlers Mountain, with views of downtown. The Jasper Yellowhead Museum and Archives presents exhibits on the fur trade, railway and early exploration of the park – ready for a day’s exploration and adventure. We set out from our hotel – Chateau Jasper to walk into town. It was not too bad a day weather wise. Our first stop was to find the railway station to familiarise ourselves with the procedure to board the Rocky Mountaineer train. Alas it was closed – we had not realised that the station only opens on the days that the Rocky Mountaineer departs/Arrives. The line is usually freight only. Mind you we took the opportunity to get a photo in front of the old steam locomotive on static display at the station – I would have loved to be on a train hauled by that engine. As we had the morning to explore we wandered around the town, bought some gifts and Susan enjoyed a fresh made Banana Split, I forget what I had (no evidence exists 🙂 ). After a nice morning we headed back to the hotel to meet our scheduled tour and exploration of the environs of Jasper and see the wildlife as well as the views.
Jasper is surrounded by mountainous peaks, everywhere we looked a mountain was there, after a while we blanked them out. Hard to believe but true. It was a case of not being overwhelmed – however that cannot be said for scenery we saw on the coach trip. On thing we learned right off is the meaning of “Bear Jam”. Usually it is traffic jam or delays caused by accidents, on this tour is was delays caused by Bears, Elks, Long Horned Sheep and Mountain Goats – all came under the cry of Bear Jam. When and wherever a bear was spotted near the roadside or along the treeline the traffic slowed and came to a standstill. Windows rolled down and cameras produced. As that great bear “Yogi” once stated “Everybody loves a bear BoBo” or was that picnic baskets?
The mountains looked high from Jasper but they really took on a different aspect as we traveled alongside/up and down them. It was not that long before the cry was uttered “bear on right hand side” and sure enough there was a black bear merrily walking through the trees. He was travelling relatively fast, nonchalant with not a care in the world, Sauntering along -was he heading to food, a date with a she bear only he knew, we just grabbed the opportunity to grab the odd picture or dozen. I certainly took some odd ones. We and the rest of the bear jam, watched the bear amble along for some time. Eventually our driver guide decided it was time to find some Osprey nests. Along the way we passed through part of the rainforest devastated by fire in 2008 and still struggling to recover. As someone who lives in Scotland I found it hard to accept what my eyes were telling my brain. Complete destruction – having been involved in fighting a few house fires I am well aware of that raging beast – but not to the scale that was obvious here. Thankfully there were signs of recovery, but, as our guide said, “It will take a wee while yet”. The devastation was only outdone by the pleasing sight of a lake set in the mountains. Alas the nest did not appear to be occupied. However, this did not deter our driver./guide as we continued our tour for another hour, spotting Elk, Black Bear, Long Horned Sheep and Mountain Goats (all of which had the proverbial <name of animal> Jam. Only in Canada can one have wildlife so close to a road and drivers stop), before returning to our hotel for the evening.