Friday, October 01, 2010

Day 10: Egypt Lake Hut to Jasper

I slept in, waking up only around 8:00am, which told me that I had been building up sleep debt. It was still cold inside the hut, however, so I put on my down jacket and proceeded to make breakfast as quietly as I could, since my companions were still sleeping. At the same time, I started packing up my stuff, since my stove was slow. I pretty much burned all my fuel, and burned a lot of my garbage in the fireplace last night, so this was the lightest pack out weight I've ever had.

It took me until 9:30am to leave, but there was still frost on the ground as I said goodbye to the hut and walked across the bridge I had come by 2 days ago.
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Journalism
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Journalism

The first part of the walk out was familiar territory by now, having done so twice before. Healy pass was beautiful in the morning, even though the light was drab by the time I got to the top around 11:00am.
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Journalism

Once at the Simpson pass intersection, I opted for the route along Healy Creek, which drove me down into the pine forests, losing all my views for the rest of the hike. The hike at this point was fairly gentle, though with several steep pitches. It was also very confusing, because occasionally the signs would be pointed to some other parking area, not the Sunshine Ski Resort.
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Fall Colors

I started meeting more hikers, but you can always tell when you get to a crowded area because people stop saying hello and just keep going on whatever conversation they had before they saw you. The last kilometer, I took a wrong turn and ended up on the dirt road the shuttle had used, rather than on the trail. This turned out to be a good thing, as I saw a herd of goats along the road, which I wouldn't have seen along the trail. I got out my camera, but they were standing in shadow and I couldn't get a good shot. I hiked back to the car, but a truck had come down the road and driven off the goats. There was nothing for me to do but unpack, switch shoes, eat lunch, and dump my garbage into the bear-safe containers.
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Fall Colors

It was my lucky day for wildlife, however, since when I started my drive down, I saw the herd of goats right in front of me. I stopped the car, got out my 200mm, and started shooting. I saw a second herd on the way down and shot that too, and then decided that I really should drive to Jasper.

The drive up the Ice Field Parkway was nice, but one thing I realized was that the highway mostly followed the river valleys and the plains, which meant that there weren't very few vantage points from which to shoot. Worse, the lodging was far from many vantage points. One exception was the area around the Columbia Icefield, with plentiful parking, turnouts, and campgrounds. I made a note of that. I also noted that sunsets were very tricky: the high mountains to the East practically put the entire valley into shadow well before the 7:30pm sunset time, which would make sunset shoots very very difficult.
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Journalism

I arrived at Jasper at 5:00pm. Hien worked there, and had offered me a shower if I showed up, but when I called her while filling up my car, there was no answer. I really wanted a shower, so I headed over to the Whistlers youth hostel right outside Jasper, picking up a hitch-hiker while going there. It turned out that I was lucky to arrive at the hostel when I did: they were running a special where you got one night free stay if you signed for the membership. The cost of the membership was $25.70, $0.50 more than the cost of a night's stay. Well, my mom didn't raise no dummies, so I quickly signed up to be a member and got my night's stay. I quickly made dinner, and then ran out hoping to get sunset shots. Maligne Canyon was supposed to be good, but on the way there I got distracted by Elk walking around right along the road outside Jasper.
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Fall Colors

These photos were shot at relatively high ISO, and I was impressed once again by the Canon 5D2. In my film days, I would never dream of being able to shoot at ISO 500 to get decent photographs (and swapping out film canisters was a pain anyway). I got to the Maligne Canyon look out after most of the interesting light was gone. I did get a few interesting cloud and sky pictures, but nothing to write home about.

Returning to the youth hostel, I finally got my shower, did laundry (special thanks to the hostel manager as I had run out of Canadian money and he had to make an exception so I could use the dryer), and spent the evening chatting with a retired Japanese man trying to learn English. The hostel had WiFi, which I used to catch up on e-mail. I also spent significant time talking to the hostel manager about where to go for sunrise. He suggested the Mt. Christy lookout, and the Mt. Edith Cavell scramble/hike after that. That sounded intriguing so I made a note of it and set my alarm at 6:00am again.

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