Canadian Rockies Day 2: Cavell Meadows

July 28, 2016

On our way to hike Cavell Meadows today we stopped at Cavell Lake, a lovely little lake that you can’t see from the road and that most people probably drive right past. (By the way, we read that “Cavell” pronounced to rhyme with “gravel” which is not how we were pronouncing it at first.) Just a short ways down the trail brought us to a bridge over the outlet creek and this wonderful view. We were lucky to have good conditions here because an hour later it was overcast.

Cavell Lake

Back to the car and a little bit further up the road we parked at the Cavell Meadows trailhead and started hiking at 9:30 along with dozens of other people. This is one of the most popular hikes in the park.

Cavell Meadows Hike

Cavell Meadows Hike

We first hiked out to a viewpoint that looks down on the pond below Angel Glacier. You used to be able to take a trail down to the pond, but after a flood event in 2012 (part of the Ghost Glacier fell off into the pond, sending a wave of water and debris downstream) you can’t do that anymore. Nevertheless, despite numerous signs, we saw many people hiking down there.

Cavell Meadows Hike

Cavell Meadows Hike

Then we headed up to the meadows, surrounded by mountain vistas and increasingly better views of the Angel Glacier.

Cavell Meadows Hike

Cavell Meadows Hike

Cavell Meadows Hike

Cavell Meadows Hike

When we passed a rockslide by the trail Greg caught sight of a cute little pika and got several great shots of the adorable little guy.

We also saw marmot along the way.

Cavell Meadows Hike

The wildflowers were awesome!

Cavell Meadows Hike

A little side trail to a viewpoint provides a nice view of Mt. Edith Cavell and the Angel Glacier.

Cavell Meadows Hike

At the viewpoint this funny marmot ambled up and started posing on this rock. I know I shouldn’t anthropomorphize, but it really did look like he was posing! He even changed positions several times, as if to say, “make sure you get all my angles.”

Marmot

The shot above is one I took. I had my wide angle lens on the camera. Below are some much better shots that Greg got on his camera.

Another side trail leads to the highest viewpoint along the loop. It was a doozy, a very stiff climb up an open rocky slope. You can see the trail on the right in the picture below, although it looks pretty tame compared to real life!

Cavell Meadows Hike

I would definitely not want to do this on a hot sunny day. We had the opposite weather, with dark clouds coming our way. And then it started to rain while we were up there. Drat. I had neither my pack cover nor my rain jacket, so I got pretty wet. Greg stayed on top while I started hiking down. Of course 10 minutes later the rain stopped just as quickly as it started.

We passed through more wildflower meadows as we finished the loop back to the car. Glorious!

Cavell Meadows Hike

Also on the way back down we saw a family with young kids sitting in the fragile meadow off the trail. The kids were running around like kids do and the parents were oblivious. It was just one of many displays of appalling behavior we saw from other park visitors during our time in the Rockies.

We arrived back at the car at 3:00 and headed back to Jasper for some post-hike food. Yum!

<< Day 1: Opal Hills and Maligne Canyon | Day 3: Sulphur Skyline >>

Canadian Rockies Day 1: Opal Hills and Maligne Canyon

July 27, 2016

On Tuesday we left Vancouver and made the LONG drive across the province to Jasper National Park to kick off the Canadian Rockies portion of our trip. It was a beautiful drive almost the entire way, especially towards the end as we drove into the Rockies. Although we didn’t have time to spend in Mount Robson Provincial Park, we got a picture of the namesake mountain as we drove through the park on our way to Jasper.

Mt. Robson

We stayed at a nice place south of the town of Jasper called Jasper House Bungalows. It had a nice little living area, kitchenette, bathroom, and bedroom.

Our cabin

And right outside our door was this. Awesome!

Reading spot

We couldn’t see the full sunset from where we were, but we could see some of the clouds turning colors. Welcome to the Rockies!

Sunset

Sunset

On Wednesday we drove down to Maligne Lake. We got there early before the crowds arrived and it was beautiful and peaceful. Photography was challenging due to the clouds (we would see A LOT of clouds on our trip), but it was still lovely.

Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake

On the way back to the car we saw a deer having breakfast in the forest.

Deer

After admiring the lake we started off on the trail to Opal Hills. It is the steepest trail in the park, according to the sign at the trailhead. As ever, the steepness is not properly conveyed in photos.

Opal Hills Hike

Opal Hills Hike

We tried to keep up with a group that was ahead of us, wanting to stay close to their noise since this is bear country. But they shot up the hill like it was flat ground and we soon fell behind. It didn’t help that we were hiking from about 5,500′ to 7,000′, an elevation we’re just not used to. Most hikes in Oregon top out at 4,000′ or 5,000′. The trail finally reached the meadows and we had a bit of a mountain view. This is a pano from my iPhone.

Opal Hills

The trail travels through this lovely basin with green meadows and wildflowers. It was quite pretty!

Opal Hills Hike

Wildflowers

Opal Hills Hike

Bumblebee

Our hiking book said “climb to the first knoll on the left for the best view of Maligne Lake.” We poked around, but didn’t see any knoll, just a big hill with a very steep slope, which you can see the bottom part of on the left side of the photo below.

Opal Hills Hike

I actually think there may be a typo in the book and that the author meant to say “right” instead of “left.” There WAS a bootpath up a little hill when we first hit the meadows, but it was on the right so we didn’t think that was it. This track on everytrail.com shows the side trip and a photo from the top:

When we got to the northwest end of the meadow we were greeted with this  lovely view of the mountains.

Opal Hills Hike

Admiring the view

Then the trail dropped back into the trees and we descended steeply back to the trailhead. We had planned to do the nearby Bald Hills hike after this one but since it took us five hours to do the four-mile Opal Hills loop, we didn’t have time (or energy).

On the drive back up the Maligne Road we stopped at Medicine Lake, which is an unusual place. From the sign there:

The bedrock in this part of the Maligne Valley fractured severely during uplift. Rainwater and snowmelt entered cracks and slowly dissolved a network of underground passages.

The upper Maligne River sinks into this passages through many openings in the valley floor. In summer, meltwater from snow and glaciers swells the river, exceeding what the underground system can carry. The surplus water, dammed by a massive rock slide to the north, floods the basin and forms Medicine Lake.

At the onset of cooler weather in late August, the inflow is less than the drainage into the caves. The lake level drops, exposing the lake bottom until the cycle begins again the following summer.

Medicine Lake

We then made a stop at Maligne Canyon. This is SUPER popular with tourists and was crazy busy, even though it was now early evening. The Maligne River travels through a super narrow limestone canyon here and there are bridges and trails that allow you to get a good look.

Maligne Canyon

Maligne Canyon

Maligne Canyon

As we were driving back to town we saw a car pulled over, which usually means wildlife is around. Sure enough there was a black bear having a roadside snack. Greg got a few quick pics on his iPhone before we moved along.

Black bear

Black bear

We stopped at Jasper Brewing for a delicious dinner. Our waitress told us that the town’s population swelled from 4,500 to 25,000 in the summer. Yikes! Then we went to the grocery store so we could eat in the next few nights. What a surreal experience. All the shoppers were clearly tourists. I wonder if the locals ever shop there?

Day 2: Cavell Meadows >>

Three Days in Vancouver

Greg and I started off our Canadian honeymoon by staying in Vancouver for a few days. We drove up on Saturday, July 23 and checked into our Airbnb condo in the city.

City view

After dinner we tried to catch the bus to the beach so we could watch the fireworks. After waiting for more than half an hour, our bus finally arrived but it said “full.” Crap. So we started walking. We got to the beach right as the fireworks were starting, but we weren’t near the music and we hadn’t brought our radio. Turns out the fireworks aren’t nearly as cool without the music. But we still enjoyed the show, then began the mile and a half walk back to the condo.

On Sunday we went to Grounds for Coffee for our favorite yummy cinnamon rolls. Delicious!

Cinnamon roll

We spent the morning exploring Pacific Spirit Park out by UBC. It was a lovely morning for walking in the woods and finding geocaches.

Pacific Spirit Park

Geocaching

In the afternoon we stopped by the library to check out the cool little gift shop run by the Friends of the Library, but it was closed, dang it! Across the street we found one of the Keys to the Streets public pianos and Greg took it for a spin.

Piano

Before dinner we stopped by the lovely Lan Su Classical Chinese Garden, which neither of us had visited before. It’s a little oasis of calm in the middle of the busy city.

Chinese Garden

Chinese garden

On Monday we rented bikes and rode the Stanley Park Seawall, which is one of our favorite things to do in Vancouver. I didn’t bring along my nice camera on this excursion, but got a few photos on my phone. What a lovely day!

Seawall

Stanley Park

After returning the bikes we went to Granville Island and had lunch. Mojitos were the special of the day, so of course we had to get some!

Mojitos

Even on a weekday Granville Island was busy and bustling.

Granville Island

Granville Island

On Tuesday we bid adieu to Vancouver and drove all the way across the province to Jasper National Park. Woo hoo!