Friday, November 3, 2017

Falling Into the Abyss: Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park, Canada

Catch up below:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Our next big adventure in Jasper National Park does not require clear skies but it would be really helpful. There are some clouds hanging around today, obscuring some views, so we decide to switch it up a bit and do a short hike that doesn't require great weather.

Watch the Video!

It's maybe a 20 mile drive from our cabin to the parking lot of Athabasca Falls. The Parks Canada website says the trail to the falls is wheelchair accessible. There is no handicapped parking that we can see, however. We end up parking in the RV section, which is the only place where I can park and still have room to get Tim and his chair out.

The weather is fall crisp, not too cold and maybe even on the edge of warm. Tim rolls to the edge of the Athabasca River with no problem.

Getting to the actual falls is a bit trickier.  Yes, there is a paved trail to a platform overlooking the main cataract but boulders and tree roots stick through at random points. The trail leans to the left when it isn't leaning to the right. To get to the main walkway overlooking the falls requires going down about a dozen steps. This tight and crowded platform is as far as wheelchairs can go.

Tim makes it through but I definitely need to guide him around the obstacles and keep my hands on the chair to keep it from veering off to the side. Let's just say that the Canadian Parks service has a bit of a different definition of 'wheelchair accessible' than I do.

Once the work of getting Tim to the viewing platform is done, we get a magnificent view of the top of the falls.

There seems to be three tiers of falls, this upper fall...

...a mid point fall as it enters a narrow slot canyon...

...and the end where the falls exit the canyon into a stunningly turquoise colored lake.

Of course, Tim can only see the upper portion.  Afterward, I take him back out of the parking lot and to the highway bridge that goes over the falls so he can see some more of it.  There's no sidewalk here and you're exposed to traffic but, being careful and watchful, I help him out to where the view is better.

When Tim's seen enough (happens pretty quick with this city guy), we head back to the car to hang out and listen to music while Letty goes over the inaccessible parts of the trail to get some more pictures.

As with every adventure we take in Jasper, we head back into town to have a pint at the Whistle Stop Pub and to browse some of the shops in downtown Jasper.

Tim and I take some time to visit the historic Jasper train depot. A big adventure for a lot of people is to take the train across stops here for a couple of hours so passengers can get a taste of the town. Others just take the train up from Edmonton for a Jasper vacation.

There's the pretty waiting room and an old locomotive out front.

Back in the cabin, Letty and I head to the resort's laundry room to take care of our dirty clothes.  It's one of the few places here you can get a wifi signal.  I notice someone is trying to message me on Facebook but I don't have Messenger installed on this phone.

With the very spotty wifi service up here, it takes me two hours to download and install. The message is from our friend, Bart, in Calgary telling us there will be a good Aurora Borealis tonight.

We've never seen it so, before we go to bed, we spend some time in the chilly a dark area behind the resort's maintenance shed...with a few other Asian tourists looking up into the now-clear night sky.

It's not the brightest thing we've ever seen but there they are, materializing every few minutes like a far off used car dealership spotlight...white bands appearing for a minute or so before fading away. Sometimes, even a curtain of misty-like white light.

With another check off the bucket list, being able to see the Northern Lights for the first time in our lives, we bed back down in our cozy cabin to rest up for the next day's adventure.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2017 - All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2017 - All Rights Reserved

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