Cameo and Ken are a couple of working stiffs who discovered long ago that life's more satisfying when they're chasing grizzlies and climbing mountains.
So far their travels have taken them to six continents from Tuktoyaktuk to Tasmania with a few stops in between.
This is their adventure...
Tag Archives: athabasca glacier
Jasper National Park celebrates it’s 105th this month. In honour of the Parks’ birthday we’ve compiled a list of things about Jasper National Park you not have already known.
- The first permanent European settlement in the Jasper area was established in 1813. Jasper wasn’t designated a National Park until 1930, 23 years after the government of Canada established the Jasper Forest park;
Jasper National Park is the 11th largest park in Canada and the largest 2nd largest National Park in the province of Alberta. For the curious Wood Buffalo National Park (AB/NWT) is the largest in the country;
The Park is the world’s largest Dark Sky Preserve;
The largest group to assemble within the park at one time was an assembly of First Nations celebrating the raising of the ‘Two Brothers’ totem in 2011 ;
Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum starred in ‘River of No Return’ which was partially filmed within the park in 1953;
Parks Canada has strict guidelines regarding residency in Jasper townsite (Banff as well). Bottom line – Get a job within the Park if you want ot live in this little slice of heaven;
The first road connecting Jasper to Edmonton was completed in 1928;
The 230km stretch of highway connecting Jasper to Lake Louise was completed in 1939;
Over 10 million people have stood on the Athabasca Glacier;
In 2010 over 7,600kg/16,755 pounds of invasive, non native vegatation was removed from the Park;
Just under 2 million people visit the Park each year.
We know… eleven!
The days are growing longer and warmer. Time to start thinking about our favourite summer hang out – Jasper National Park.
Here’s Ten Free Things to do in Jasper Nation Park this summer.
1. Go for a Hike
- With 1200km of hiking trails Jasper National Park offers something for everyone of all abilities. The Parks Summer Trails Guide is a good place to start.
2. Visit the Jasper Information Centre National Historic Site
- Locacted off the main drag, across from the train station, this building is not only an architectural gem, it also is home to one of two Parks information centres within Jasper (the other is located within the Columbia Icefield Visitor Centre). If you’re looking for information about the Park this is where you want to be.
3. Watch Wildlife
- While not as easy as a safari, most wildlife within Jasper National Park can be viewed from the comfort and safety of your car. Bighorn, elk, mountain goat, black bears and deer are often found roadside foraging. A visit to the aforementioned Information Centre will give you an ideal of where the critters are ‘hiding’. Safety first – please drive carefully and obey posted warnings – Keep the Wild in Wildlife.
4. Climb a Mountain
- Our favourite – Mount Wilcox
5. Photograph Wildflowers
- We consider the Edith Cavell area as one of the best areas for stunning wildflower photography opportunities within the Park.
6. Watch a Glacier Calve
- Watch Angel Glacier along the Cavell Meadows Interpretive Trail calve house sized chunks of ice. Don’t get too close!
7. Take in the Local Art Scene
- A number of truly remarkable artist take inspiration from Jasper’s beauty. Check out their work at the Jasper Artists Guild.
8. Go for a Swim
- Horseshoe Lake, approximately 25km south of Jasper offers tranquil blue waters with a bit of a twist for the adventurous… cliff diving. Adult supervision highly recommended.
9. Spend a Night Star Gazing
- If the daytime views aren’t enough look skyward after dark. Jasper National Park is the worlds largest dark sky preserve. Great for smores and star gazing. The Park operates special programs May through December with the Jasper Dark Sky Festival showcased in October – Parks Canada/Jasper National Park website
10. Touch a Glacier
- The toe of Jasper’s Athabasca Glacier is easily accessible from the Icefields Parkway at the Columbia Icefields Interpretive Centre. Please take care and DO NOT climb on the glacier itself.
Bonus – Go for a Pinic
- A hot summers day and Lake Annette go together like peanut butter and jam sandwiches. Located less than 10km from Jasper townsite, adjacent to the Jasper Park Lodge.
What’s not to like about a hike that quickly gets you above the treeline with gobsmacking views of fluffy snow draped peaks habouring an icefield that feeds 6 major glaciers? How about a quick non-technical hike and scramble up an adjacent peak (Mount Wilcox/Wilcox Peak, 2884m/9462′) for even more impressive views!
Many guide books and trail maps extol the virtues of Jasper National Park’s Wilcox Pass trail so we won’t go into that any further other than to say if you do not intend to summit Mount Wilcox the 4km hike to the pass alone should be on your ‘To Do List’ next time you visit – the views are that good.
This article focuses on accessing the summit once you have hiked to the pass trail marker.
By far the easiest way to access the pass is to start at the Wilcox Campground trailhead and follow the well worn trail to the Wilcox Pass trail sign at approximately four kilometres into your hike, you can’t miss it. At this point you’ll have a couple of options to ascend Mount Wilcox.
Option A – An unofficial established trail to the west will take you closer to more Icefields viewing. From the viewpoint faint pathways heading northward along Mt Wilcox’s western edge will eventually intersect with a more defined trail on the south slopes of Wilcox gaining the mountains signature ridge line viewpoints. After the view point(s) the trail becomes a single braid up to the summit. This option is the easier of the two.
Option B – Continue north past the Wilcox pass marker, heading toward Tangle Creek. Hang a left (west) when your path becomes parallel with scree slopes of Wilcox. By this point you should be able to pick out trail markers (rock cairns) on the slope and adjust your approach accordingly. This ‘eastern approach’ offers a more direct route to the aforementioned ridgeline with more valley exposure.
Once you have reached the ridge line you have another key decision to make because the ‘easy’ hiking portion of the trail soon ends and a short scramble with a minimal amount of exposure is required to make it to the top – about 20 to 30 minutes of effort. But before you make that decision have a look to the west… peaks, glaciers, and an icefield. Pretty spectacular. If you are proceeding further now would be a good time to get your gloves out as the rock you will scramble over is quite rough and sharp. The route to the top is clearly marked by cairns leading to a false summit with a brief exposed ridge/saddle crossing to the actual summit.
Enjoy the view… you earned it!
The Fine Print
- A National Park entry fee is required to access the area.
- You are hiking in an alpine area, please take care to avoid damaging plant life and sensitive soil.
- Jasper National Park is bear country, both black and grizzly, and although not considered frequent to the area, carrying and knowing how to use bear spray is advised.
- This hike, particularly the scramble is NOT for everyone. If you have any doubts about the trail, heights, or your ability give this one a miss. If you choose to attempt this hike and summit bid, do so at your own risk.
Do you have a favourite trail and or viewpoint in Jasper National Park? Let us know in the comment section below.