At the end of day one of our trip, we got into Jasper at dusk.
Jasper is a little train-track town with a number of houses, a number of amenities, a number of bars, and the dark pines, and the mountains a way back further than they are in Banff, but still lending their feel to the place.
So we picked the first motel in town, or what might have been the first one with the best name. Room 101. And went out for dinner and saw how much the train takes up of the town. I didn’t take a good picture of it it, because of those pines in the way, and the length of freight in the dim light not making a good shot at my skill level.
The morning came and it was something else.
After eating at Coco’s – good coffee, vegan and gluten-free friendly, which was good for our party – we decided on heading to Mount Robson, the tallest of the Canadian Rocky mountains.
There was a genuine moment of confusion where we all mistook another mountain for Mount Robson, only to turn our heads and behold the beast.
It’s tall enough to have its own weather system, and only 1 in 10 make it the three or four days to the summit, because of the technical difficulties in the climb.
After marveling at all that mountain, it was time to move on to Medicine Lake (above) and then Maligne lake, for a spot of lunch. Perched above the first lake was this handsome lad:
A Bighorn ram. He wanted the salt off our tyres, and we had to be very gentle in driving off. In the lake behind him you can see streams of water – these, we guessed, show where the underground aquifers come up. The lake drops 20 feet at certain points in the year, and then these bubble out to feed it back up.
Maligne lake was frozen, with words scratched in to the surface snow, and everything all shut up, and animal tracks leading into likely dens.
And something that seemed to be bear – though I don’t know exactly
Let me know if you can tell what sort of animal made this.
From Lake Maligne it was four hours back to Banff, which had the previous day taken us nine with all our stops. The mountains, dressed differently stood as they will stand throughout all our lives. Epics of rock, ground at by glaciers and wind and sun. Lapped by water turned bright blue with their eroded silts. But the whole thing made fleeting by the car, less imperious, by the weightlessness a car journey gives a landscape at times. Another kind of narrative, and one that those on foot and horse coming through all those years ago would not have had at all. They’d have lived months with these mountains, and there they go in an instant, and there they stay, and it is us who are pretending to zap them into the past –