Our first paid campsite was in Jasper National Park. This year is Canada’s 150th anniversary, so all of the park entrance fees are free and the dogs are allowed on about 85% of the trails in the park. All of these factors made staying one night in an official campground worth it. Also, neither of us realized that Canada celebrated Labor Day as well, so leaving on a Thursday upped our chances of getting a spot.
We found a walk-in spot at the Snaring River campground and setup. We then drove to the Maligne Canyon trailhead, put the pups leashes on and started off. Rachel had recommended this hike saying it was pretty easy and one the dogs could handle. She was right. It was a beautiful hike down into the canyon with a few waterfalls and beautiful teal water. Luke was a little sad that there were so many guard rails keeping people from being allowed into the falls or water, but at one point it did open up and he walked across. It was the coldest water he had been in so far on the trip. Once around the river, we came to the place where we had to turn around and head back. Luke looked at the map and was a little surprised it was showing the loop was down an overgrown trail. Brooke followed, even though she was skeptical of the trail. After two dead-end trails, we realized the map was inaccurate.
Then we found the trail and started our ascent out of the canyon. The initial climb was the steepest we encountered yet, but Brooke was determined not to be defeated. Once at the top, the rest of the hike was pretty easy and scenic. The pine was dense and went as far as the eye could see. It was a scene full of red and green pine trees, it looked like a Christmas scene.
We headed back to our camp and relaxed for a bit. Since we were only there a night, we wanted to see as much as possible. There was a trail from our campsite leading to the river and Luke wanted to explore. Brooke and the dogs were willing participants in the exploration. We walked for quite a ways back and were all blown away by the beauty surrounding us. Brooke only took her phone on this hike, as noted in the bit of a grainy photo. She found the pine trees growing sideways by the river pretty humorous. Once it really opened up to the river, the trail ended and we turned and headed in for the night.
One of the other reasons we decided to stay the night was because Jasper is considered a “dark park” and they make a lot of effort to preserve the best night sky views there. Seeing the Northern Lights in the fall there is kind of common it seemed and we hoped we’d get lucky! One of the things on Luke’s bucket list is seeing them, so we hoped to still accomplish that. Unfortunately, though, it was a completely cloudy sky that night. This whole trip we’ve either been just ahead of something great or RIGHT behind it. In this case, we were just a week or so ahead of an amazing viewing. You know what this all means though right? We have a northern lights adventure in our future and we won’t complain about more adventures.
We enjoyed our evening and were ready to head to our next site in the morning. We had found this place on trusty freecampsites.net and was probably the most beautiful camp view yet! Our view was the Wapta Falls inside of the Yoho National Forest. The downside of this site is there are only two spots, so we were hoping by arriving earlier in the day we’d get one of them. We found the second of the two spots which also had the second best view and were pretty satisfied with that. We were hoping that since this was more of a dispersed place that the fire ban would be more relaxed here, but there was a huge sign posted right next to us saying no campfires. Our camp neighbor had shown up a few hours later and after chatting with him we realized we were going to need to figure something out. He offered to let us use his stove, but we needed to get the fuel. The only town was 15 miles away and it was going to be dark soon. Luke decided it was best to try and get the fuel, but all of the hardware and camp stores in town close at 6 and we had just missed them. We grabbed some fast food and headed back to camp a little defeated. We went back and chatted with Stefan, our neighbor, who seemed pretty friendly, but a little too rowdy for Brooke. He explained his girlfriend, Amanda, was on her way and shortly after that she arrived. They were a pretty “new couple” and both of us stood around slightly awkwardly while she set up camp with Stefan. Once they pulled out their supplies for dinner, we excused ourselves and didn’t see them anymore that evening.
The next morning we decided to go into town and find a small stove we could cook on. Luke was not super excited about it but knew it was for the best and Brooke would feel better about everything. It took us a few stores but we did find a small emergency backpacking stove. We came back to camp and ate some snacks. In passing the night before Stefan mentioned them going to a lake the next day, but when Luke enquired about it they didn’t give any definitive details. We had decided to check out the lake anyways, and when we loaded up the car and passed their campsite we learned they were going too. We took the dogs on a walk to the rocky beach through a ton of quicksand like terrain and set up on a dock where we leaned against an abandoned boat. Stefan and Amanda showed up and set up just far enough away for us to feel the distance. Stefan tried to start up a few conversations… about politics of all things, but most of them died out. There was a lone camper who showed up, said hello and asked if there was space by where we were. There were no views but definitely space to share with us. Before we could respond, Stefan assured the man our site was full.
When we left the lake, the couple stayed behind. Two people on a motorcycle passed our campsite and when they slowed enough Luke assured them if they needed a place to camp, we’d share our space. It was a busy weekend after all. After realizing there weren’t many options they parked and set up on a flat open space to the left of us. We learned their names were Leigh and Viktoria, an Australian and Swede who had been traveling South America for many months. Shortly after they set up we were stopped by a couple who also wanted to know if there were any spots nearby. Since we hadn’t moved anything to accommodate Leigh and Viktoria, we once again said we’d share the space. They told us they had found a flat patch by Stefan’s camp, but wanted to know if that was okay. We still said that would be fine and they set up. We went on to play a card game and hang out when the couple appeared again. They asked if they could share our table to cook dinner, of course, we agreed! We learned that they were Simon and Carolin and they were on a three week holiday from just outside Frankfurt, Germany. We had a lot of fun chatting with them while we both cooked dinner. Our little emergency stove was no match for their propane tank, partially because we have cast iron pans. When Brooke mentioned our neighbors we all agreed that they were “friendly-unfriendly” and we gave them their space. Leigh and Viktoria ended up coming to our table as well during dinner and we enjoyed really fun conversation about travel, differences in countries, Simon’s tank and tree wood obsession, you know… the usual.
Luke had purchased these amazing cookies, called Celebration cookies, and some marshmallows in hope to make smores one of our nights but with all the fire bans we weren’t sure when. This night though, we had two candles going on the table and Luke said we should make smores over candlelight. Brooke rolled her eyes, but the rest of the table seemed down for the idea. Brooke took back her eye-rolls when she saw how funny it was and what a good time people were having. Simon turned on his propane canister too to help with the effort. Eventually, we called it a night but our unfriendly times definitely turned into friendly times.
The moral of this post is experience beauty everywhere, including the people you meet.
– the beaucampers