Side Trip to Jasper

Via Rail's the Canadian making its way through forests overlooked by the Rocky Mountains between Jasper and Vancouver. As a bonus, travelling long distances by rail gives you the opportunity to read a novel or two, do some crossword puzzles or simply meet other passengers and make new friends. (CP PHOTO/ HO/ Via Rail)

As if I did not have enough snow in Ontario the month I was there, and now, in the Garden City, where golfers never take a day off, we have had too many days of snow, where am I heading in a month?

The Rocky Mountains, where glaciers meet the highway, the daytime temperature average is -1.6 C to slightly above 4 C. Basically what we have in Victoria now, when we should be seeing cherry and plum blossoms. I will not be surprised if it will be unseasonably cold when I arrive in Jasper.

I have no idea why Jasper, Alberta, in Canada, suddenly popped into my head the other day, but it did. Perhaps it was when I received a notice about excellent Discount Tuesday Escape Fares for Via Rail, or it might have been while reading the Blog of another solo traveller. Whatever grabbed my attention, decision made, train tickets purchased and hostel booked.

This will be a bare bones trip. I will travel economy class, that means no fancy meal service, most likely a viewing car will not have been added for the economy coaches, and sleep will be in the seat. I already know that blankets and pillows must be rented and food can be purchased. I will pack accordingly.

Fine, at least I am prepared…right? Not exactly. Rather than drag my sturdy, heavy duty winter boots and coat home, because of course we so rarely get snow past January at home, I left them in Ontario. Along with my warm winter socks. Probably my really warm Olympic mittens too. As for winter wear while in Jasper, I do have a lighter pair of boots that should suffice, plus enough coats and sweaters that I am not really worried.

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I was not planning to do any major activities in the snow. I have one month to look things up, decide on a budget and make a plan. Or change my mind and cancel the tickets before the 24 hours cancellation period is up.

Next morning, I am still going. A little background research tells me that Jasper is 1,060m (3,480ft) – this worries me, I had altitude sickness in China before hitting 1000m, above sea level. Nestled in Jasper National Park, one of the four parks designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Jasper House was established as a fur trade outpost in 1813.

How on earth anyone determined such places has always fascinated me. It can only have been stumbled upon in the ever growing search for wealth in the fur trade. Getting to Jasper remains a test of endurance. Easier on the nerves is the train, so much easier to let the engineer follow the track. I have travelled by car, bus and train into and beyond Jasper, my preferred mode of travel will always be by train.

Expected budget for five days: 500 – 600 CAD As mentioned, this will be a bare bones budget. Looking at the dollar amount so far I already feel I am spending too much on a whim.

  • Via Rail Economy seats return: $292.00
  • Jasper International Hostel 48.62 (bunk bed in a 28 female dorm)
  • BC Ferries return 34.40
  • Public Transit 20.00 (this is an estimate)

Next list, gear.

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2 thoughts on “Side Trip to Jasper

  1. One of my favourite places in Canada. I even hired a car for three days and drove on the other side! Do enjoy your time there. The laundrette had an Internet cafe ten years ago and superb espresso . If you can get to the hot springs do go in. Only disaster was abysmal Chinese food near railway station. Have fun solo traveller .

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