Day Thirteen

I woke up this morning after a particular restless night on the train. Despite having successfully made camp, I just couldn’t get comfortable, which led to a great deal of nodding off over the course of the day. Next time I’m making sure to sit on the left side of the train, rather than the right; it worked the first time, so hopefully it’ll work again. Comfort is key, because the next time I get on the train I’ll be on for three nights.

Most of the day was fairly uneventful. I spent most of the day reading in the dome car as we went through Jasper National Park. It was cool to see things like Mount Robson, Pyramid Falls, and Moose Lake again, and it was another clear, lovely day for it. Once they made the announcement that we were pulling into town, I packed up my things to detrain and get ready for the day in Jasper.

I made a quick run for groceries before hailing a cab to bring me up to the hostel. When I walked in the door, the place was an absolute madhouse. Everyone getting off university is making their way out here right now, so the place was packed. Actually, a ton of the people from the train were checking in, including a Brazilian family I had genuinely hoped to never see again (let’s just say they struggled with understanding that they were not, in fact, the only people requiring assistance and that that the rules do, in fact, apply to them). I comforted myself in the knowledge that I had a reservation and should have no problem in getting bed, but alas, my confidence was misplaced. Turns out, I screwed up my reservation, saying I’d get in yesterday and leave Monday. When I didn’t show last night, the whole reservation was cancelled. Luckily, I was still able to get a bed, so no sleeping outside for me!

I took a shower, threw in my laundry, and settled in for a calm night at the hostel. I made dinner and sat with Rosie, from Australia, and Gunnar, from Germany, two friends who met at a hostel in Toronto and are now traveling together. Gunnar is just near the end of his two-year work visa, while Rosie is just starting hers. They were absolutely hilarious and so fun to hang with for the night! Rosie is actually a costume technician doing an internship in Banff, so she and I had plenty to talk about, including our favorite trash TV shows, a conversation Gunnar was pretty excited to jump in on.

After dinner, I curled up on the couch to keep reading. The common room was really busy last night, with people playing cards (and really great music). Once the hostel staff started prepping for lights out, a group moved outside to start a bonfire and invited me to come out. They were all international exchange students who had met studying at the University of Waterloo. Also in the mix was Casper, a Belgian boy I met while checking in, and Luic (also Belgian) and a friend of his from France, both of whom had been on my train. We stayed up late, exchanging stories and drinks and watching the amazing stars. Jasper is a dark sky preserve and I’ve never seen anything like I saw last night. We were all on a quest to see a satellite and shooting star before the end of the night, and we were not disappointed.

The rest of the group turned in to bed, but Casper and I stayed out to keep an eye on the fire. Turns out Casper works as a camp counselor back in Belgium, so we spent the rest of the night trading stories about the strange campers we’ve had over the years and talking about how our camps were structured. It was amazing how many of the tricks we use in dealing with campers were the same, despite working in totally different countries. Kids are kids, I guess!

Once the fire died down, we turned in for bed as well. Tomorrow is my big day for hiking. I’ve heard there have been a lot of bear sightings in the area (I promise I’ll be careful)! I haven’t decided yet what I think about that. Part of me would really like to see a bear, but only as long as it was far enough away to not really take notice of me. I guess we’ll see how it goes!

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