Canadian Rockies: Chasing waterfalls, unicorns and rainbows in Jasper National Park

What's buzzing Hive!

How is all of yalls voting hangover going? LOL. C'mon, we all know some of you took part in the guilty pleasure! I did minimally, don't hate but I see some definitely cashed in. Hopefully it gets all powered up to continue supporting their network for months or years to come. At least they were nice enough to advertise the glitch for everyone to take part if they wished to do so. To be honest tho, I didn't drain all my VP, only about half of it and since I'm far from a major HP holder, my cut was probably much smaller but hey I still got approximately 20 Hive in 2 days when I should have gotten maybe 5. Every Hive matters! I mostly just went back in time and voted on the post from my friends I had missed while I was disconnected from the internetland exploring my paradise. Fair not fair? I say whatever.

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Speaking of paradise, I feel like I'm slow again rolling stuff out. My new mush-brain is really pissing me off , I often forget what I'm doing while I'm doing it. YUK. Since I'm planning on possibly returning in the next few days before work starts again, I might wanna move my behind, it will be hard to post when I get back to work. I think the real problem is we experienced so much in so few days that I don't even know where to begin. I have like half a dozen half written posts in my head all jumbled into one messy idea. You know me, I probably could easily write a book about my beloved rocks.

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The day we did the Wilcox Pass hike was actually the day we were supposed to drive to Jasper and return home but we caught wind that the only road access for our return home via Jasper was closed indefinitely due to a out of control wildfire and we woke up to our section of the park being all foggy. We were actually supposed to do Wilcox Pass on this day but we didn't want to wait around half the day to see if the skies would clear up. That is often our strategy, if the sky looks dodgy, just drive down the way a couple of hours and you will most likely get something different entirely.

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On that day, we chose to take a gander to the town of Jasper via the beautiful Icefield Parkway...also named the most beautiful highway in the world by National Geographic. We mostly come this way during winter so we miss many lookouts since they don't remove the snow from many hidden lookouts. We had intentions on eventually reaching the town center and eat but then we got over excited about the day we were having and the scenery that we just ignored eating altogether until everything was closed. No fancy mountain foods to show you this post! Maybe next time...

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This proved to be the right move, we just hit short hike after short hike. We were both pretty sore and exhausted from all of our other previous long hikes and this was supposed to be our relaxa-day of minimal hiking and we still put in over 17km on foot somehow and climbed the equivalent of walking up one of the former twin towers on foot. These long days are killing me and I love every minute of it!

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We tried to leave the hotel as early as we could to maximize our time as per usual but it looked all grey and cloudy, our first short hike was at the Columbia Icefields since we were driving in front of it, might as well. I still plan on giving it a post to itself so I wont post too many photos yet but I'll still indulge since I have quite a bit of photo material for this. This area is always moody doing it's own thing but just as lovely to look at anytime of year! Before we get to the Icefields, there is this spectacular birds eye view of the road cutting thru the valley below. Apparently, we are not the only ones enjoy the sight. Hello there Mr. Raven! How do you do my good sir? They are under-appreciated yet so beautiful.
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After that short hike, we had to do our usual quick stop at Tangle Creek Falls, it was flowing like we had never seen before, what a time to visit! This not that little gem is right on the side of the highway with a parking lot across the street so it's nearly impossible to miss. If you read my last post about Wilcox Pass, if you keep going for that 11 km one way walk, this would be where you end up. Back to the waterflow, we always hike up, summer or winter and get a closer view of the top tier. This time was no different. A few years back, @silvergingerman was at the bottom taking pictures of my up there wondering what kind of optical illusion made me look like I was standing in the middle of the waterfall, well he discovered my trick and that I was again.

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You probably shouldn't do that and you will get VERY VERY wet but there are rocks and a shallow river that comes to about ankle deep in really cold water in front of the fall but not necessarily in it. Be careful as wet rocks are slippery so don't climb or go to the edge to avoid injury. I tend to stay in a location that if I slip, I'll just get more wet than anticipated, if you're gonna do stupid things in the Rockies, at least do them safely. In the end, my whole behind was completely SOAKED from the spray alone. Luckily it was turning out to be a hot day and it felt good along with the fact that we finally stopped cheaping out and got ourselves some lightweight fast dry hiking pants. So comfy too, it's like wearing nothing but realistically we were just tired of ruining a pair of designer jeans with rips and stains from the rugged landscape with every trip. Took me about 20 minutes to go from dripping wet to completely dry, proving to be a worthy investment already!

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YUK... my wet dripping pants, my butt was just as soggy, all of my backside to be honest. I will love my new hiking pants, they have tons of pockets for spare batteries, smokes and whatever else I might want stuff in there. Ill find a way to turn myself into a walking backpack or mountain tool shed (at work I sometimes get labelled a walking tool crib). I Can also roll them up into shorts, they have buttons to hold the legs up...sweet!

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We didn't have a specific agenda, we just went wherever the wheels of the truck and our feet took us. Next we were looking for a view of the endless chain, stopped for a picture and noticed we were at the trailhead for Stanley Falls and it seemed to be only a few km hike that took a little over an hour to complete. Doesn't seem like a busy hike, bring bear spray in case but I didn't really see any evidence of bears or much food for them so it might be ok without. It's just good practice to have it packed no matter what. It's not a very picturesque hike but remains quite the sight, it's one of those "you have to see it in person" type places.

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The trail took us along a small canyon along the river and every little while, there was a cascade or small waterfall. Much of the hike is on the edge and there are no barriers so be careful when bringing small kids and watch your footing. There are plenty of exposed tree roots and rocks to have me tripping over myself for an hour :D. We met this lovely young family from Montreal visiting for the first time, they became our hiking buddies for the time being since we arrived at the same time. Hopefully they had a good time visiting our landscape. Overall, it isn't a hard hike and well worth the hour wasted, just about anyone should be able to handle this. There is an incline most of the way but it isn't all that steep.

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I had to wash my hands in the cold river since I somehow got full of tree sap and I was just spreading it everywhere on myself, I swear you can't take me out anywhere...not even the forest...what a mess! One of my nicknames for over a decade is "sticky", I wonder how I could ever earn such a name!haha

Naturally we gave them a few pointers as to what not to miss in their travel direction, I'm sure they would have done quite well on their own anyway. If you remember my blog page details, there you are as promised, I hope you get to return and visit our backcountry in the future with your mini explorers that will soon become seasoned junior adventurers! This is only shoutout #1 wait for it my other mountain peeps looking for yours... lol. When I travel, I try to spread the word on our beautiful home community of Hive thru word of mouth, I should really get some business cards made to make it easier to remember especially for those I inform they will be in my blog. Does it work? Who knows...doesn't hurt to spread the word. Knowing the landscape and standing out like a sore thumb with our funny hats, there is no doubt we must be local enough to know where the good stuff is around here, we get the chance to talk to many visitors. I'm always curious where everyone comes from.

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Our trail friends got ahead of us for a bit, that backpack isn't a backpack...He carried his kid on his back in some sort of contraption the whole hike to keep her from running amok around the edge of the canyon, what a champ! I bet kiddo was happy to get out of there and stretch her legs after!

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unripe Juniper berries are whitish in color and turn purple like a blueberry when ripe. They are called a berry but there are in fact closer to some sort of pine cone and taste like one too. It is commonly used to flavor gin or used crushed as an herbal tea (about 3 crushed berries needed for 1 drink) in addition to being crushed like a spice similar to pepper in many gravies and sauces. They have many health benefits and are pretty common around North-America not just the mountains so don't pick anything from a national park, it's illegal. These guys pack quite a flavor punch, don't try to eat a whole one alone, it taste like a really strong pine tree and make my gut turn(I did try it on a separate occasion as I always carry some in the house picked from crown land, a handfull will probably do a year of supply.

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Other flowers we found on the trail, don't know their name and didn't try but they are also pretty common in the mountains just about everywhere we stopped.

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Endless Chain

Of course there many roadside lookouts to stop here and there, each have a bit of exploration available but didn't seem like too much for trails but you can still get down to the river and walk along the river for quite a ways, we certainly enjoy doing that in the summer. Gives us access to views we can't otherwise get from the road. We wanted to go a bit further but now as we were getting closer to the waterfalls we were really excited to see. We didn't want to procrastinate too much. At this point we still had the silly idea that we wanted food! Who needs that right!

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This must be the smallest bee in the world! I have no idea what this is but it was the size of small ant considering these are pretty small flowers to begin with.

Our next scheduled stop was the Sunwapta Falls, the sister fall to Athabasca. Both Sunwapta and Athabasca falls are part of the Athabasca river and get their flow from the Columbia Icefields as they melt for summer. Late June and early July is when ALL the waterfalls in the region are in full force and the sheer power of both of them is nothing short of spectacular. It's so loud you can't even hear yourself talk. I have never seen them be this violent. Somehow the energy coming from them was recharging my own personal batteries. I know it sounds strange but I felt super good and ready to take on the world after visiting both.

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Sunwapta Falls is pretty close to the road/parking lot, just a matter of crossing the tree line so it is possible to just come by for a quick stop and see the best part. There is a short hike that makes it down closer to the falls themselves but the photogenic view is really at the bridge. There is a couple of trails to hit up in the area. A trip to Big Bend will take a bit longer, more like an afternoon plan but we went down that road last winter, I believe that bridge may still be washed out. Our plan was to make it to the Lower Sunwapta Falls. Not quite as significant as the easier access falls but still worth the extra walk for the view and it's just a nice walk in the woods.

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Up until you get to the Lower Falls, there isn't much of a view but there is a plethora of wildflowers including some a little more rare to our region. The walk is about 2 km downhill to get there and there isn't much for fall hazards at both falls. It's popular enough that both are pretty well fenced in, great for unruly kids I suppose. It's fairly easy even to come back, the incline isn't as steep as big ben and I would classify that as an easy beginner hike so essentially just about anyone with 2 legs shouldn't have any problems getting there. By this time, the sun was shining in full force and the day was warm. Being sheltered in the woods was a bit of relief from the heat. Now with the sun at it's peak for the day, we got a bunch of rainbows in the waterfall sprays as all the elements were just right for the added surprise.

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I can't believe we are only halfway thru the day, feels like we have been out and about forever and it had been, I run on beef jerkey and coffee when I'm in the mountains, food is for chumps! lol ... I should probably try to do better at some point, I just don't think of it or want to take the time when it's this nice! Our time here came to end, it was time to head to the real prize, the real unicorn I coveted! ATHABASCA FALLS. Now if you think these little rainbow falls were nice, wait for it! Athabasca Falls is the most powerful fall in the Rockies and let me tell you, this one is ANGRY but this is another one I can feed energy from.

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Not much to say about this place, It's a quick road turnoff called Goats and Glaciers. There was no goats, I feel a little ripped-off lol ...jk it was a beautiful view and not much work to get at it. The river isn't normally this high as to cover the land below but the tiny mock islands were neat just the same

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Now we were at the heart of the Montane Region, the lower portion of the mountains more concentrated in the valleys. The climate is more temperate with a longer growing season where you will find the bulk of the many wildflowers, this time of year it was still early being there at the end of June and only small flowers are out. By now, mid July is the peak, one more week and there should be some spectacular fields full of everything. Animals also prefer the Montane region, this is where most of the food grows.

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On top of being the most powerful, it is right in front of Mount Kerkeslin, unfortunately this area has been ravaged bad by the infamous pine beatle and it will never be the same again in my life time. The short live pretty mock-fall colors stage is over and now much of the mountain is just dead trees, at least where you see the black-ish discoloration. Sad indeed. I wonder what kind of view we will get in the coming years as the trees slowly crumble and fall. Hopefully we can welcome new growth so maybe not the next but the generation after can enjoy what we used to. This place is killer nonetheless. We got engaged here actually, this place has our memories imprinted in it's own fabric! We have to stop every time we drive by.

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@silvergingerman made a quick iphone video for me just so you can hear it's tremendous power in the link below. This is some crazy stuff. I have never seen it this mad before. How exciting! well for me anyway...I have done some stupid things in my life and I will just stop here so I don't give anyone any ideas because this place is dangerous. When I say she's angry, I mean it. Every couple of years, somebody dies here and they just get washed away and may or not ever be seen again (I mean your body...nobody would survive getting washed away by this bad girl). Last winter someone almost fell in before the river froze, he got lucky and caught himself but he's a one off...Everyone else...bye bye...sorry about your luck. STAY WITHIN THE BARRIERS!

Now, this is my money shot for this place down below. I have it circulating on facebook and it's almost at 3000 views in like 7 hours already. YEAH! I'm trying to grow a ladybug facebook page. Ladies and gents, you think it's hard to build a following here!?! Haha that's funny. Anyways, I will leave a link to my page in case there is an odd one of you still kicking around that dusty place. I do release some of my pictures a bit earlier there but you certainly get way more here on hive.

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We did a bit of walking around down the stairs but it looked pretty much like it usually does except with a wild river. We wanted to go all the way down and walk around but the river was so high so we just headed back up with the intent to go get some grub someplace fancy-ish but that's where we said Screw it, I want Maligne Lake!

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I hope you don't mind my fugly mountain look, no make up, all undone. What a mess! lol Ladybug raw! For someone that's going to be 40 in a few years, I guess it could be worse, at least I held on to whatever little I had for this long...haha

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I stole @silvergingerman's outback rancher hat and he wore my cowboy hat, with covid, I didn't eat for 2 weeks and dropped a bunch of weight and aparently I had a fathead so my hat doesn't fit me anymore, it just flies away in the wind. It might look a little funny to some but it's like all weather protection from sun to rain and I don't have to do my hair, it's quite helpful.

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Where I'm standing is the former path for the river and waterfall, it has carved itself a new path since then with the soft limestone walls.

By the time we hit Jasper townsite, it was probably passed 6pm maybe even closer to 7. If we went to eat we wouldn't of had time to make our way up to Maligne. It wasn't really on the agenda but we made it this far and time allowed it somehow. Gotta love them long Alberta summer solstice days! Up to this point, we were already 10 hours into exploring on the day...No wonder we put in 17km of walking on a no hike day! I was so sore, I think that's the day I fell to the ground when I tried to get out of bed. Waking up my legs were like....Hum...NOOO YOU AIN'T you weirdo. WTF legs...I'll show you who's the boss...Can't tell me what not to do.

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We didn't regret skipping out on food, what a drive, what a view. There wasn't much for wildlife yet, still too early but this road is a HIT. A little secret, this is one of the areas that the Animal tour takes their guests, probably all the way to the canyon. We have seen grizzlies eating buffalo berries, Elk, Rams, everything hangs out in the fields leading up. Maybe we'll catch something on the way down...just maybe. In the meantime, here is Medicine Lake aka the bathtub of jasper, in case you are just joining, this is not actually a lake, there is too much water coming down the mountain than the underground rivers can carry so the surplus accumulates over the summer and completely drains in the fall. There is an eagle's nest in the area but it was blocked off for nesting season as they are easily disturbed. Follow the park's guidelines even if it's tempting to try to get a glimpse. Amazing stuff!

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This region is the actual birth of Jasper National Park. This is the gem it was meant to protect and probably my favorite overall general area. You could spend days here without getting bored. We have so many hikes to do here still and also where you can find one of the most coveted hike in the world, The Skyline Trail. It's a 4 day hike for a backpacker's paradise. There is a way to skip the long hike and get a short glimpse of it from Maligne Lake, if we go next week, I would like to make it to the lookout over the lake since I have heard hikers drool all over this trail, I better checkout what it's all about.

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This another one of those special mountain interactions... We met a group of young adults on our arrival and they were willing to be patient and let me take my photos, I take a while so I told them to walk by. As they walked away talking amongst themselves, the said they wanted to be photobombing me anyway to be funny. So I shouted out, with that kind of language you are now part of my vacation and MY BLOG. They instantly turned around...WHAT? REALLY? So there you are my young friends, if you remembered my blog and didn't give up looking for yourselves yet, here you are...your moment in infamy! You are a good bunch and it was nice to briefly meet you. Keep on exploring and being awesome, I hope you enjoyed your evening!


In hindsight, I should have asked you to pose for a better picture but I like the surprised looks finding out you would go in my blog. I think the one guy was more like cameras...I take it back...hehe

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I got to say, this year with no international tourist, visiting the parks are a breeze, we had most of the place to ourselves for much of the day, even the normally busy areas that are impossible to swim thru tourists were fairly quiet. If you are Canadian, this is the time to come visit, there are deals to be had everywhere. This is how nature should be enjoyed. Looks like golden hour, we must be almost done right!?! How much more can I fit in here! Now that I'm almost nearing the end, I realize this probably could have been 2 posts but it's too late to turn back now. We had a long drive back to Saskatchewan crossing so we didn't wait until sunset. I wanted me some moose pictures on the way down, they come out to the side of the road about an hour or 2 before sundown. Be careful when driving down at this hour but you could be in for a treat.

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Now this moment was the most EPIC of the day, maybe even the trip. What came next blew my effen mind. On the way down, we spotted a grizzly in the ditch eating in the bushes. Now he was across the street and pretty far out, I didn't have a clear view of him but there was an opening in the trees and I was hoping to catch his head as he was walking by. Then this girl stops her car right in my view to tell me there was a moose real close, I was like GET OUT OF MY are blocking my bear and she just kept repeating about the moose over and over. I already had my 300mm lens on the camera in preparation for a possible moose. She eventually got the hint that I didn't give two s**** about her moose and drove away...ER MER GHERD girl...a little slow are ya? I couldn't see him anymore. I was looking and looking. Where did the SOB go? He must have left. Suddenly, in the bush opening looking over the 3 or 4 foot deep ditch/hill/drop-off (whatever you want to call it), I see 2 paws on the road and a big head pop up! WHOA. I figured he would see 2 cars there and go back in the direction he was originally go in.

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When I say he went to say hello to both vehicles, he really did. Luckily I got to watch his behavior with the other vehicle first.

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He stayed there for a few minutes looking at each of the vehicle analyzing the situation. Suddenly, I see him grab on with his back paws and jump onto the road. He looked and analyzed another minute or so and started making his way in front of the truck, I was still out the sunroof (in a tall enough truck)!! OMG What do I do!!! Is he coming for me? Should I hide back in the truck like a ground hog? In hindsight, I probably should have but he was very calm and walking slow across the road, I could tell he wanted no beef with me...I just want to cross the road man...chill, so I did, he stopped a few times and even posed for both vehicles in opposing side of traffic...what a bear...what an encounter...

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I'm glad I was in the truck and I was ready to pull a groundhog move just in case. No growls, no grunts, no huffing and puffing. Cool as a cucumber crossing the darn road. He was sooo close! The thing is with bear encounters, even on the trail, you don't want to move fast, not moving is often the better option unless it's a predatory bear. Leave them room to decide where they want to exit and let them is the best strategy. Normally the safe distance for bear watching is 100 meters and we were respecting that but you can't really control where the bear is going to go! We still got our moose in the end, a young buck, you can see his tiny horns. Probably the first season on his own and he was skittish when we tried to drive around him. He wanted to run in the road and all over the place so we stopped rolling for a bit and let him gather himself until he figured out where he wanted to go. Moose is another one where you have to pay close attention to their body language.

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Take that slow girl, I missed NOTHING at all. They don't move from there until sundown unless they get scared. Get outta here, I know my beasties behaviors! Even if I did miss out, bears always have priority, and she almost had a bear come at her while she wasn't paying attention arguing with me when I was trying to warn her! Some people lol. Alright this is it for now! And there was no unicorn, I did look tho. Cheers! xox

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