Monday, September 17, 2012
We had been planning to do the Cavell Meadows trail, a very popular (arrive early if you want a parking spot) 8.3 km trail in Jasper National Park, not far from the town of Jasper. To reach the trailhead you must go up the narrow, winding Mount Edith Cavell Rd, which is a bit of an adventure in itself.
The track is normally open from mid-June to mid-October, but for some reason the top area was still closed when we arrived in mid-July. I guess the thaw came late this year. That was a disappointment, but we still were able to do the first section of the track, and loop back around to our car on something called the Path of the Glacier track.
The trailhead is at a pretty high elevation, so expect the temperatures to be a few degrees cooler than in town. On the bright side, the cooler climate means fewer bugs.
Although we weren't able to hike to the meadows at the top of the climb, we still saw our share of wildflowers on the small section we were able to hike.
We also had a pretty good view of three different glaciers, two hanging glaciers and one that ended in a small lake. The glacier in the photo above is called Angel glacier.
Right around the spot where the track closure began we saw a hoary marmot hanging out on a rock. The marmot was in practically the same spot as one photographed in the hiking guide we had with us, which had me wondering whether he (or she, I couldn't tell) was a professional. You know, paid to sit out on a rock during set hours so the tourists can have an authentic wildlife encounter. Then I wondered if they took shifts, because most of us can't tell one marmot from the next. Anyway, he (or she) seemed completely unperturbed by the people walking around and taking pictures.
The accessible bit of the trail ended at the terminal moraine of a glacier, and despite the mid-summer weather there was still some snow on the ground.
We backtracked down the hill and rejoined the Path of the Glacier track, a tourist-friendly easy walk that takes you right to the shores of a small lake that acts as the glacial terminus. The lake is full of little icebergs.
While it was frustrating to be faced with a closed track and a shorter than expected hike, I can understand the need to keep a steep, wet path closed due to the damage that hundreds of pairs of boots per day can inflict in those conditions. Perhaps one day I'll make it back and get to see the meadow.