Saturday, November 12, 2011

October 5, 2011 Born Free in Jasper National Park

Fast, on a rough road riding
High, through the mountains climbing
twisting, turning further from my home.
Young, like a new moon rising
Fierce, through the rain and lightning
Wandering out into this great unknown.

And I don't want no one to cry.
But, tell 'em if I don't survive

I was born free!
I was born free
I was born free, born free.

Free, like a river raging
Strong as the wind I’m facing.
Chasing dreams and racing father time.
Deep like the grandest canyon,
Wild like an untamed stallion.
If you can’t see my heart you must be blind.

You can knock me down and watch me bleed
But you can’t keep no chains on me.

I was born free!
I was born free
I was born free, born free.

And I'm not good at long goodbyes
But look down deep into my eyes
I was born free.

Calm, facing danger
Lost, like an unknown stranger
Grateful for my time with no regrets

Close to my destination
Tired, frail and aching
Waiting patiently for the sun to set

And when it's done, believe that I
will yell it from that mountain high

I was born free
I was born free
I was born free, born free

I will bow to the shining sea
And celebrate God's grace on thee - "Born Free" by Kid Rock

We got up early hoping for better weather today. It's not looking good. I just wanted to plug this place. We had a fantastic stay in Jasper and highly recommend The Bear's Den. Once again we grabbed breakfast and lunch too at the Bear Paw bakery.
 We ran across this herd of elk on the Yellow Head Highway.
 These two decided to get a closer look at the two of us.
Sorry sweetie, I'm not giving up my huckleberry pastry.
 Near Medicine Lake the fog seems to be burning off.
 Driving along Maligne Lake Road we finally get to see the mountains...
...and OMG, is that actually sunshine.
A murder of crows.
Back on the Yellow Head Highway, this big boy appeared to check on his women. Chrissy kept hoping to hear him bugling. When he finally did she started getting out of the car, I had to drag her back in and drive away. I guess bugling works on all females. I should learn how to do it.
 As we headed south on the Icefield Parkway, the weather took a turn for the worse. Here's Chrissy at a scenic lookout over the Athabasca Valley...'s a sign pointing to a mountain that is not visible at all.
We decided to hike down to the Lower Falls at Sunwapta. I took this memorial to heart and enjoy myself in spite of the weather.
 The hike down to the lower falls took us through the forest along the Sunwapta River.

The roar of the falls was the only sound we heard.

The hike down the canyon brought us to these great views.
 I hiked along the cliffs above the river, Chrissy took the trail through the woods.

After carving it's way through the limestone, the water cuts a path through the trees.
As we hiked back upstream, the sun broke through the heavy fog to light up the canyon.
It has been raining all morning, so Chrissy said I should take a picture of the rain drops. Great idea Chrissy.
Chrissy relaxing...after hiking back up the river.
 The Sunwapta Upper Falls which we avoided earlier due to the tour bus crowds.

 AAAAHHHH...the relaxing sounds of a waterfall.
The upper canyon was very colorful.
This trail has had heavy use over the years and I've seen too many horror movies over the years. I always picture these roots grabbing me and dragging me to God knows where. CHRISSY...HELP ME!
 The Icefields Parkway is one of the most scenic roads in the world. I spent all morning wishing the clouds, fog and rain would clear out...
...once they did, I couldn't drive a mile without stopping to take pictures.

 It would be a trip to the wilderness with a crow following us...just waiting to peck our eyes out.
Sometimes the hype doesn't match reality. That is not true with the Icefields Parkway. The scenery is stunning all along it.
 To see this very impressive waterfall...
 ...all you have to do is pull over...
This is Tangle Falls.
 This is the Athabasca Glacier...
...and this is Chrissy leaving the rest of Fluffy's ashes at the toe of the glacier. The reason we left some of Fluff's remains at the glacier requires a short story. Fluff loved to lay in the yard whenever it was cold outside and especially if there was snow. We used to joke that she was outside chilling her ninnies. So that is why we left her ashes at the glacier.
Since the weather improved dramatically from this morning, we decided to hike to Wilcox Pass. The first mile or two was straight uphill through a forest and this was the view once we got above the treeline.
The Athabasca Glacier from across the valley.
 As we hiked across the mountain toward Wilcox Pass...
 ...these are the wonderful views of the surrounding mountains.

 I usually take pictures on the way back down because I'm breathing much easier in that direction.
But on this hike I stopped so often to enjoy the amazing scenery that I took pictures in both directions. I remember thinking at the time, I want this picture so I can relive the incredible feeling of being alive in such a beautiful place. I can now report to you that it worked.
 As usual, I fell way behind Chrissy while hiking.

Eventually we made it back down into the forest. This hike really felt like quite the accomplishment for me. As I walked back to the car, I looked up at where we had been, thought about how wonderful the world looks when you are standing on top of it and felt tears rolling down my I'm just kidding...I felt fucking sore as whole body hurt...but it was worth all that pain.
 A quick stop at Sunwapta Pass allowed me to get pictures of both of these signs...
...because not only is it a continental divide it is also the dividing line between Banff and Jasper.
Dinner at the Saskatchewan Crossing is where I took this picture.
 A couple of pictures at Bow Lake around sundown...

...then check-in at the classic Num-Ti-Jah Lodge where we spent the night.

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