If Alberta's got one amazing thing, aside from endless wilderness, billions of barrels of oil and cowgirls, it's got Jasper and Banff (as well as another one) National Parks. If you've never been, go. It's arguably the best part of all of Canada, though I haven't been to more than Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia once.
It was originally supposed to be a surprise for Danielle's birthday but I figured it would be impossible to lie about why we're driving five hours in a direction that only goes to Jasper to say "Surprise! we're walking eight kilometres!"
So I eventually ruined the surprise. But to determine what would be the best hike, I found the awesome website HIKE JASPER. It's a great site, with basically a synopsis of every trail in the park. It's good because it tells you what you're in for both as effort and reward for those efforts view wise.
We chose the SULPHUR SKYLINE trail. To get there we drove about 500 kms to Jasper, paid the 19 odd bucks to ensure that grizzly bears have a place to live and drove to Pocahontas campsite. It cost about $33 for the night and the fire permit, which included unlimited wood, as I'm sure most of you campers would know out there.
We stayed there the night, cooked smokies and played some Texas Hold'em, then camped in Danielle's Ford Edge, which has a huge trunk (big enough to sleep in with the seats pulled down) and sunroof that makes it in some ways better to sleep in than a tent. (I'm not a big fan of tents personally)
In the morning we left the campsite and drove the next fifteen kilometres to the Miette Hot Springs, where the Suplfur Skyline trail begins.
The trail paved for the first for the first kilometre or so, then becomes rocky for the rest of way. It goes in a relatively straight line, at a semi-steep incline for about 2 more kilometres, then it winds back and forth up the final mountain for about another kilometer as it elevates to like 700 meteres.
It was beast.
When you get to the top of the penultimate peak, it's a mossy, nice plateau where you can eat your lunch, and then make for the summit, which is a barren hump of a mountain.
Once you get there, it's hang out time. Danielle and I stayed up there for the better part of an hour, snapping photos, talking with some people and playing with the chipmunks (I kicked this one.) Also we made an Inukshuk, so if you're ever there, look for it.
Ironically, the walk down was ten times worse on the body. It wasn't the sheer workout like the climb, but it KILLED the ankles and had us begging for non-inclined ground just so we could stand still for a few seconds.
Afterwards, we sat in the Hot Springs, which are the hottest springs in the rockies to relax, then drove the 500 kms home.
all in a two-days non-work. :) Try it! also, all these pics, except for the first one were taken by Danielle! she's gettin good eh?
peace and love