Friday, July 19, 2013

Jasper National Park

It’s been a while since we dry camped, and for our friends Forest and Cindy this was their first time in their new to them 1996 Newell.  These 46’ Newells with 2 slides have six 8D house batteries, but in Forest and Cindy’s case they had 3 of their six 8D batteries fail a few weeks ago, so they were uncertain about how well they would do on only three house batteries….these newer Newells consume a lot of electricity.  Because of Forest’s uncertainty about how well their batteries would do we only committed to dry camping here at the Columbia Icefields one night.  An added complication is that they only allow you to run your generator from 5 pm to 7 pm each evening, and 7 am to 9 am each morning.  That is hardly enough to recharge their batteries.  Since our 1982 Newell does not consume a lot of juice unless we watch TV we didn't even need to worry about running our generator.  Without TV we can go several days before we have to run the genny.

For the first time in several weeks we ate separate dinners, and since we wanted to get an early start driving up to Jasper Thursday morning we hit the sack around 10 pm……we are not able to get satellite TV here…..the mountains are blocking our view of the southern sky satellite, which is very, very low right now……we are aiming at a satellite meant for the States, and we are now quite far north in Alberta, and I have to aim the satellite so low now that any obstructions can cause a problem, like last night.  Frankly I’ve been pleasantly surprised we have been able to zero in on the DirecTV satellite this far north.

It rained on an off all evening, and into the early morning, but when we got up around 7 am the skies had cleared and the early sun hitting the glacier across the highway was stunning.  We are at around 6,200’ elevation here, but it only got down to 39 degrees during the night. 

When I got up our house batteries (two 8D’s) were at 93% still.  I turned on all three gas heaters to warm up the coach which had only gotten down to 60 degrees during the night. 

Our Jello plan for Thursday was to leave around 9 am and drive north to Jasper, a reputedly beautiful town, and site see along the way.  Even at 9 am we still have 13 hours of day light left, so there was no hurry.  One piece of good news which made Thursday even more relaxed was that Forest’s three 8D batteries did just fine during the night and with a couple of hours of generator time he got them charged up sufficiently to last the day.

We headed out in Forest and Cindy’s Chevy pickup just at 9 am driving north while steadily losing elevation…..Jasper is at 3,500’.  Our first stop of the day was only 6, or 7 miles north at Tangle Falls….what a way to start the day!

Next up was Sunwapta Falls where water from the Sumwatpta River is channeled into a narrow limestone gorge creating a beautiful water fall.

Just a few “klick” further up the road was Athabasca Falls which were even more captivating where water from the……you guessed it….Athabasca River flows into a narrow canyon cut in quartz-rich rock.

About another 55 “klicks” brought us to the lovely town of Jasper and re-connection with technology…..cell service, and broadband, plus free WiFi everywhere!  The scenery all long PH-93 was just stunning.  We all took hundreds of pictures combined.

The Jasper Information Center (JIC) had very fast free WiFi where I was able to upload Wednesday’s blog in just a few minutes.  While I uploaded my blog TLE and our friends inquired about eating establishments……one that caught my attention was JasperBrewing Company, and that is just where we headed after leaving JIC.  Jasper Brewing Company also had free WiFi, so we all were able to update our status’ on Facebook and check our e-mail…..I had 54 e-mail messages, of which only 7 were not junk mail…..L  The beer and food were delicious, and our server, Emily, did a superb job. 

After eating we walked back to the JIC to try and make reservations at at Lake Louise Campground for Friday through Saturday.  They have a phone you can use to call toll free numbers, so I called and talked with Cathy in the reservations department….she informed me they had 3 sites left that would fit our monstrosities, so we quickly booked two of them starting Friday afternoon.  It’s only about 90 miles south on PH-93 from the Icefields, so we’ll take our time and stop a lot as we drive down on Friday morning.

On our way back to the Icefields we deviated from PH-93 to PH-93A, aka: the old road.  About 5 klicks in we took a side road up to Angel Falls glacier at the foot of Mt. Edith Cavell.  The road in was about 14 klicks and took about 30 minutes each way….very windy and narrow, but the drive was well worth our time.

We left Angel Falls around 5 pm and enjoyed a very scenic drive back to the Icefields with a couple of more scenic stops thrown in for good measure, arriving “home” around 6:30 to find the parking lot packed with a caravan of about 20 motorhomes returning from a trip to Alaska. 

The Jello co-operated Thursday without even a single hitch in our plans… often does that happen?

Friday we head south to Lake Louise and Banff!  Thanks for stopping by!

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