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Wanderlust cured’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 04 Apr 2009

Location: Jasper, Canada

MapSquirrels and Toboggans

Into Jasper early for breakfast and then to the singing of ‘back on the road again’, that we were. Maligne Lake was our mornings destination and from what we heard another picturesque drive. First stop: a big group of deer just sitting and staring at us, some of them munching away by the roadside. A late night snowfall and a cold morning kept our speed low for the beginning of the drive, but we found heaps of great places for pictures and saw some great frozen lakes along the way. We were perched up mid-mountain looking down upon one of the lakes as the water snaked its way through, the creek with its black rocked bottom corroding the surrounding ice and snow made for a very stark contrast of blacks and whites. Some very sheer cliffs rising hundreds of metres above where we were driving were hit by the morning sun which lit them up in a blue/grey brilliance. Remnants of avalanches cascading down the flanks of the mountains remind me how unforgiving Mother Nature is.

We arrived at Maligne Lake just as skiers were pulling up to do some cross country skiing around the Lake. Its 23 kms long, and it can take 4 days to hike around whilst staying in overnight camping spots (something best left until summer). This area is considered Caribou country, but none were spotted that day. Off we were walking in the thick fresh powder but Bel’s shoes and her will couldn’t hold up any longer as her feet got wet and cold for the umpteenth time and she was heading back to the warm car. I continued along and met some German girls on their way back (yes they must have been up early) and they told me that the further I walked, the deeper the snow got so just ‘just follow our tracks’. I still lost my footing in a number of places, but continued on through the trees and told myself that when I found the lakes edge again I would turn around to join my companion in the warm car. On my return I heard the call of a squirrel and turned around to see if I could spot it. One moment later, it scrambled down the tree about 10 metres away, crossed the path, dug under another tree and grabbed a mini pinecone which was resting under the snow. Once he had it he ran up onto the tree and perched atop a branch to consume his prize. He allowed me in really close and the photos show just how tiny these little squirrels are. He was happy to sit there munching away while I tried for the best shot. The wildlife here makes me appreciate just how simple life can be, they are not too bothered about us, if we just leave them alone, they tend to leave us alone – their life consists of sleeping, hunting and eating, procreating and play – got the life? The wildlife I have come across so far has been in National Parks and I am not sure if its due to their lack of predation by humans in these areas or not, but it seems to have them very relaxed around people and I count myself lucky to be having these types of experiences.
Back to the carpark with my cold feet, only losing my legs in the snow a small number of times and into the car for a nice warm drive back to Jasper, the morning ice now melting in the spring sunshine. The afternoon was a mixture of food and too much shopping and then we made our way back to the hostel. A late lunch meant that I got my way and Belinda and I ate freshly baked brownies for dinner...hehehe, so deliciously gross!

Before I go, Bel and I took the toboggan out to a hill beside the wilderness hostel and spent late afternoon laughing, crashing and videotaping our way down the hill into the bushes below. I haven’t laughed that much since I arrived here and my backside is most definitely sore after getting some air on the toboggan and crashing too many times. Tomorrow morning I am going to attempt the jump and take the toboggan up as high as I can go. If I write another blog, it means I have survived my mission and my stupidity levels far outweigh the brains that I assume I have obtained over my years.

Tomorrow Bel leaves on a train to Vancouver, across the middle of Beautiful British Columbia (as their number plates indicate – and I must agree that they are not far wrong). It will be an amazing train ride for her and I hope she gets to see the moose she so desperately seeks. Bel, its been amazing having you over here, I know I may have been quiet at times, but my excitement to have you here has not receded since you arrived and I am definitely sad to see you go. You arrived at a time when I needed it and I appreciate you making this trip more than you can imagine. I know you have come to love Canada, you too are spellbound by its beauty and I’m sure you will be back in the summer to see all of the things you have already seen plus more – just without the cover of snow. I will try to get some footage of moose and bears (and maybe a cougar) so I can send it back to you and I hope you have safe travels home. You really are a wonderful friend. Thank you.

I hope everyone enjoys the photos once I have them all up of my recent escapades – I really have scored of late with the wildlife.

Love love.