Swimming with baby at Annette Lake in Jasper National Park

This summer was the start of lake swimming for my little guy.

Baby swimming at Annette Lake, Jasper
Baby swimming at Annette Lake, Jasper

He needs a little coaxing before entering the water but once he’s in then he is quite happy toodling around chasing his little boat.
Baby and Mom at Annette Lake, Jasper
Baby and Mom at Annette Lake, Jasper

Mountain lakes are mostly glacier fed but there are lots of little shallow spots where the sun warms the water enough to wade around without freezing. Annette Lake is a great swimming lake because there is a nice beach with lots of warm water. The water is perfectly clear so you can see all the little fish and the bottom is mostly sandy.

Annette Lake, Jasper - swimmers at the beach
Annette Lake, Jasper – swimmers at the beach

The lake is only a few minutes drive from Jasper townsite so it is easy to find and it has a paved trail which is easy to push the stroller on. This is definitely worth visiting if you have a little one who likes playing at the beach.
Annette Lake, Jasper - Baby at beach
Annette Lake, Jasper – Baby at beach

To avoid confusion, please be aware that this is NOT the same location as Lake Annette which is found in Paradise Valley, Banff National Park.

Pre daylight savings week hike

The last week before the springtime daylight savings adjustment saw me enjoying the last of winter in Jasper townsite.  With temperatures hovering around zero and the sun shining throughout the day it was the perfect time to head out for a short hike with my little buddy.

Laughing while Grandpa and Grandma goof around.
Laughing while Grandpa and Grandma goof around.

After stuffing him into several layers of warm clothing he barely fit into the baby backpack so I had to adjust the safety straps to a larger configuration.  It takes a long time to put him into his little snowsuit, tighten his boots on his feet, stuff his hands into his mittens and tie his warm hat onto his head.  Throughout the dressing process the little monkey tries his best to undo my hard work by pulling off his boots, dumping the mitts and shoving the hat from side to side to try to get rid of it.

He’ll be the happiest baby in Jasper once summer comes and he can go outside without the layers.

In the meantime, I am enjoying the spring weather immensely.  Yesterday the two of us were joined on our walk by Grandpa and Grandma.  We walked along a little unimproved trail that runs through a field by an access road in Jasper.  The trail was well used and the snow was packed down well so the walking was easy.

Our destination was a bluff overlooking the Athabasca River.  Right now the Athabasca is a dark ribbon of fast moving water bracketed by snowy banks.  With the snow melt underway it won’t take long for this channel of water to grow in power and size but yesterday it looked like a harmless stream passing by in the distance.

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Mr. I-Hate-Mittens standing with Mom on a hill overlooking the Athabasca River.

The walk was a fun way to spend the afternoon and my little hiking buddy had a great time.  He’s definitely an outdoor baby and I can’t wait for some more hiking this spring.

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The plow left a snow mountain that is taller than we are.

A snowplow gave me a mental adjustment

You ask what kind of fool would walk on a highway when the snowplows are out? Those wicked metal blades could smear a person on the road like jelly on a sandwich.   Like lotion on a sunburn.  Like … ok you get the idea.

Me, that’s who.

Let me explain.

The first big dump of snow came this morning and it was a good one.  Lots of soft fluffy flakes came down and piled up in big drifts on everything nearby.  Around noon the snow stopped falling and shortly after that the sun came out so it was the perfect day to go for a walk with my little guy.  There was only one problem.

I was not quite ready for hiking in the winter.

Baby bundled to stay warm

The warm clothes weren’t the problem.  Both baby and I are well taken care of in the layers department. Likewise, the footwear situation is sorted with a pair of sturdy boots, thick wool socks and a good set of gaitors to keep the white stuff from sticking to me.  We have snacks and a good hiking relationship where baby lets me think I’m in charge although we both know that little guy calls the shots.

No, the problem was that today I was not mentally prepared to break trail while carrying baby in his backpack.

Breaking trail on a route that you know well is usually fun and exciting.  As you plow through the fresh drifts of snow you can imagine being the first person to step foot there.  You are an early explorer searching out a new route and boldly filling in the blank spaces on your map so that others may come in your wake.  You eagerly look forward to seeing friendly landmarks that are half hidden by the recent snowfall.

Being the first hiker out on the trail is so exhilarating that it seems as if the air smells fresher and the sun shines a little brighter to welcome you on your journey.

Snowplow

Breaking trail is also a lot of work.

For some reason I wasn’t quite ready to go the distance today which is how I ended up on the highway.  I started on the trail but was gradually drawn to the inviting clear stretch of road just out of sight of my trail.  There was no traffic at that particular time and the cleared pavement was calling to me with promises of easy walking.

I regretted moving to the road when I saw the snowplow coming toward me in my lane.  The driver was moving at a good speed (read: fast) and he showed confidence in his work. I’m not sure whether he saw me or not but I didn’t take any chances and moved back to the snowy path where I stayed for the rest of my hike.

It was much safer and to be honest it is where I should have been all along.

Let’s just say that the snowplow gave me the “mental adjustment” that I needed for my future winter hikes.

Come on winter – bring us more snow.  I’m ready and I will be staying on the trails!

Sunny tree

Climbers, joggers and creepers at Wynd

Climbers, joggers and creepers were enjoying the Wynd roadway today. This short road provides vehicle access to the tracks and rail crews are sometimes picked up and dropped off to meet their trains.  This is a very popular spot for recreational users because of its easy access from town and flat grade which makes it an easy hike with baby on board in his little pack.  Easy walk, nice sunny day, lots to like about Wynd.

Climber
Joggers – both two and four footed
Creeper
Wynd

Work and Transport along Bighorn Alley

Wooden fencing

Baby loves the sound of trains, cars, transport trucks and basically anything with an engine.  While I have been busy this summer toting him to remote lakes, he is perfectly happy to sit by a busy road and watch the traffic go by.

With this in mind I chose Bighorn Alley for today’s hike.  Sandwiched between the railway tracks and Highway 16 this hike has lots of human activity and loud noises to keep little guy entertained as he bounces along in his baby backpack.

Train Engine

Our first sighting was a CN train coming along the track toward us.  We could hear the rumble of the train long before we saw it and were perfectly positioned in a clearing to see the engine as it emerged from the trees.  Engines – plural – is a more accurate description.  As is the custom with these long trains, this one had two engines at the front and a third further along amongst the cars.

Colourful boxcars

The long line of coloured boxcars seemed to go on forever.  Their bright colours were a stark contrast to the grey mountain backdrop and it seemed as if the train was pulling a long string of Christmas lights through the trees.  The boxcars had an industrial beauty and the sight was a nice colour blast on this cloudy day.

Jasper Cemetery

A bit further along the trail we passed the Jasper Cemetery.  The cemetery is a small but well cared for resting place for some of Jasper’s permanent residents that is located on a slight hill overlooking the highway and the Athabasca River.  I think it would be a nice final resting place but today wasn’t my time to stop there so we continued with the hike.

Construction warning signs contrast with grey mountains

The Bighorn Alley trail terminates at a pedestrian crosswalk that takes hikers across Highway 16 to the Moberly Bridge crossing the Athabasca River.  This is the main route for travellers heading to Jasper Park Lodge and the Maligne area.

Moberly Bridge is currently being repaired although the work is expected to be completed by the end of October 2012.  The workers were wearing bright safety vests but even still cars were going past them at quite a fast pace as if the drivers didn’t see the people standing on the bridge.

Workers repairing the Moberly Bridge contend with traffic and weather.

Between the traffic and the changing weather conditions these folks have quite a challenging job.  Maintenance and construction activities are not easy in mountain conditions but the contractors and parks staff do a tremendous job.

Jasper National Park is a destination for millions of visitors each year and I suspect that many of these people don’t spend much time thinking about the hard work that goes into maintaining access to the park.

As I hiked along the trails this past summer I was grateful for the signs and trail markers that guided me on my routes.  I often observed places where trail crews had removed deadfall that had fallen across the path and in other places there were signs of recent repair work on log bridges crossing little streams.

My intended hikes to the Edith Cavell area were cancelled by closures implemented by Parks staff who were monitoring damage to the area.  The experienced people who monitor the park and make decisions on trail use are often invisible to visitors but their work is vital for the safety of casual hikers like me.

Altogether, a virtual army of people work to maintain access to this park and I’m grateful for their work.  Animal monitoring and control, visitor services, waste removal and restroom maintenance, snow clearing, X-country track setting and a multitude of other activities go into making the park enjoyable.

This hiker would like to thank everyone who works so hard here in the park.

For current information on conditions please visit the Parks Canada site:

Warnings and closures:  http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/jasper/ne/urgence-emergency.aspx

Road conditions: http://www.pc.gc.ca/apps/rcond/cond_e.asp?oPark=100244

Park management: http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/jasper/plan.aspx

I love rocks

Small stuff seen by a little guy

My little buddy’s view is limited to what he can see when he travels in his little backpack or what he can see when he is down on the ground.

Far from boring, his little world is populated with all sorts of interesting shapes and colours which we adults tend to brush past without comment.

Today’s hike was a loop along the area where the Miette River meets the Athabasca River.  It is a short hike that is located within walking distance from Jasper townsite and is very popular with dog walkers, cyclists and baby’s in backpacks (plus moms). 

Once again my little guy was bundled in his snowsuit and was quite comfortable throughout the hike.

We took our time and stopped for a bit on a dry piece of riverbank to look around at all the little things that we could see.

Little baby surveying a big world

Hunting Rose Bushes at Pyramid Lake

Prickly Rose under snow

The clouds hung low over Pyramid Lake today as I walked along the shore with my little buddy.  There was a sciff of snow from last night but it was melting as the sun poked a few rays through the cloud cover.

This walk around the lake turned into a rose hunt and it was a perfect way to spend the day.

Usually a lakeside walk focuses on the body of water but today I couldn’t keep my eyes off the little plants peeking through the snow.

I was amazed at the number of prickly rose bushes popping out of the undergrowth.  This little rose bush is dressed in some beautiful red leaves right now which are even prettier than the pink flowers it sports in the summertime.

The bushes were especially pretty with a bit of snow blanketing the top so here are a few of the pics, as well as some photos of Pyramid Lake.

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Gear Shakeout on the Athabasca River Hike

Baby sitting in his backpack all bundled for a winter hike

Early snow excites me because it means I can take the baby out hiking almost every day.  The days are relatively warm and the snow adds beauty to the scenery. My little man gets bundled up warmly in his little snow suit and toque for our outings and he is snug as can be on the hike.

Today we went to the Athabasca River Trail which is located just outside of Jasper townsite on the #7 trail.  It is a nice little meandering path that is easy to walk along and is also fairly scenic.

Mom and baby on Athabasca River hike

There were a lot of people out today and most of them stopped to chat for a minute with me and the baby.  The other hikers liked seeing his cute little face poking out of the layers of clothing and the baby backpack.  Many of them greeted him and touched him on his little mittened hand which he seemed to like.

This was a trial run for me as I sort out his clothing needs and get all the gear ready for late fall and early winter hikes.

I have lots of clothing layers for baby so can adjust his outfit to suit the conditions.  The baby backpack actually provides quite a lot of protection from the wind so that improves the situation for the little guy as well.

Snowy trees – I’ll be seeing lots more of these before spring.

The only thing that I don’t have is an insulated sippy cup for him.  I have thermoses which I can use to bring hot drinks and a bit of hot lunch for longer trips but don’t have anything that is specifically suited for baby to drink from.

We didn’t need a sippy-thermos today but I’ll try to find one for future hikes.  If any of you know where I can buy one please leave a comment so I can go pick one up.

Thank you.

Fall colours by Athabasca River