Jasper The Friendly Host
Mount Kerkeslin, AB to Jasper, AB
Today I woke knowing that Jasper (and the end of the Icefields Parkway) was near. Very near. As in less than 35 km near. I was definitely happy to be nearing Jasper but I was a little sad to be leaving the Icefields Parkway. Despite the short distance remaining to Jasper, I still found myself packing up my tent earlier than was really necessary. I think I was a bit excited about returning to Jasper for the first time since 1998.
However, there was one detour I was planning to make on the final stretch to Jasper but unfortunately that didn’t work out. During one of my brief breaks on the ride to Lake Louise, I was talking to a local who insisted that I needed to stop at Horseshoe Lake just outside Jasper. Apparently it’s a great place for jumping off high rocks into very deep water. Sure, “plunging into water” isn’t exactly (or remotely) high on my non-existent “Things To Do” list but it did sound like an interesting place to check out.There ended up being two problems to that coming to fruition. One, it wasn’t “just” outside Jasper … it was 25 km outside of Jasper. That wasn’t so much a problem since I started the day about 35 km outside of Jasper. However, it meant by the time I started looking for signs for the lake, I had already passed it. The bigger problem was that there aren’t actually any signs for Horseshoe Lake. Apparently, you have to know where it is if you have any hope of going there. I didn’t, and as such, I didn’t. Oh well. Next time.
The ride into Jasper was very easy and, of course, very beautiful. As I approached the main street it was very clear that Jasper had changed a LOT since my last visit. That said, the general feel of the town felt very familiar.
My first stop was at the Information Centre where I figured I could yet again charge up my devices and perhaps find some free WiFi. The former worked out very well as I found an outlet hidden in a sheltered area of the Information Centre. I was able to plug in my computer without even having to unpack it. It also seemed like a very safe area so I was able to leave my bike unattended while my laptop charged.From there, the quest for lunch began. Actually, it wasn’t really much of a “quest” as I knew exactly where I was going to go. After three Subway-less days on the Icefields Parkway, I was once again reunited with my fuel of choice.
After wolfing down a footlong meatball sub, I made my way over to Tim Hortons to try their WiFi since I wasn’t having much success connecting at the Information Centre. I wasn’t planning on going inside but then I saw two familiar bikes outside. The bikes in question belonged to Ian and Emily who I’d met a couple of times on the Parkway. It turns out they were having their first Tim Hortons experience. While this may offend some people, we agreed that the best part about Tim’s is their WiFi.
After catching up on the rest of their ride on the Icefields Parkway, we once again went our separate ways. However, Ian mentioned they were staying at Whistlers Campground and that I could share their site if needed (or perhaps there would still be some available). At that point I still wasn’t sure what my plans for accommodations were but it was nice to know that I had options.
Oh, I forgot to mention that on my way to Tim’s I was stopped by someone else who looked familiar. It was Dick, who I had met outside the restaurant at Sunwapta Falls two days earlier. Of course, given the size of Jasper I would say this was much less of a coincidence than my second meeting with Brian from Subway. Even still, it was nice to have a quick chat with him again.
After wandering around Jasper for a bit I found myself back at Tim’s to once again use their WiFi. Some “urgent” video edits were needed to a project I had been working on earlier so suddenly my day became a work day. I can’t complain too much, after all, I have to pay for this adventure somehow!
With my work somewhat complete, it was time to turn my attention to accommodation. I had considered the Information Centre as an option but had a feeling that wild camping at an Information Centre in a national park MIGHT get some attention from park rangers or other such authority. So, I decided that going to Whistlers Campground seemed to make the most sense. Although, I MAY not have exactly followed protocol when I arrived there.With the campground being part of Jasper National Park, a park pass was required. Since my pass expired yesterday I figured going up to the registration window was only going to cost me money. So, I MAY have opted to just bike past the gate (they were busy taking money from those with vehicles anyway). From there, I MAY not have entirely registered for a campsite and instead, well … I MAY have just kind of borrowed one of the walk-in sites. I later found out that such sites are actually assigned to people when they register at the gate. I suppose I would’ve known that had I stopped. Fortunately, the site wasn’t assigned to anyone else and I had an uninterrupted night. Side note: “my” campsite was across from Ian and Emily’s so we once again ended up chatting for a while.
My original plan for tomorrow was to resume my journey west but I think I’ll stick around Jasper for another day. It’s SO nice here.
Distance travelled: 43.76 km
Ride time: 2:08:17
Average speed: 20.47 km/h
Maximum speed: 53.68 km/h