Day Fifteen

After all the walking I did yesterday, today seemed downright restful! I woke up this morning (no thanks to group alarms — joy), quickly packed, and took the shuttle down into Jasper to have some time to walk around town before my bus to Lake Louise arrived.

I tried to leave my big pack at the station where my bus was picking me up, but my travel company didn’t have a service desk inside. I trudged over to the lawn outside the visitors’ centre, found a shady bench (the weather was awesome again today, but I’m getting way too much sun), and pulled open my book. It then occurred to me that the visitors’ centre had open Wi-Fi and I had an episode of Game of Thrones that needed watching before it could get spoiled, but when I tried to load it the connection was too slow. This, and the realization that I was hungry, brought me to Tim Horton’s for a quick lunch. Unfortunately Tim’s also had bad internet, so I had to shelve GOT for a while longer.

I made my way back to the bus stop and sat down in the shade to wait. A nice girl from Brisbane joined me and told me about her winter working in Banff and her plan to visit the Columbia Icefields today. Our bus came and we jumped on to enjoy the scenery as it passed.

Midway from Jasper to Lake Louise we made the stop at the Columbia Icefields. Our driver was nice enough to stop for a few minutes so we could get out and walk around. As we drove, I saw the Glacier Skywalk, and that’s something I’d like to go back and do someday. I’d also like to take an ice truck out onto the Athabasca Glacier itself. A lot of people told me I had to go see the glacier, and I’m glad I did, even if it was only for a while and from a ways away. The Athabasca Glacier is actually the source for the river I sat by yesterday, so that made it even cooler (get it?) to see.

The views on the bus ride were absolutely gorgeous, which is why I’m kicking myself for totally passing out for the last hour or so (I have baby-in-moving-vehicle syndrome for sure). Luckily, I managed to get loads of great photos before I fell asleep and I get to take the same ride back in about a week.

I woke up to the driver announcing that we were pulling into the Lake Louise Alpine Centre and shot awake, a little bit harried. I actually forgot something that I had to go into town to pick up later, but the bus company, Brewster, was really helpful in getting it recovered and made sure to drop it somewhere very close to the hostel.

I quickly threw my things into my room, which is a really nice one. There’s actually a washroom in the bedroom, which is pretty luxurious by my standards at this point. The room was also really spacious, as is the hostel itself. I think I’m really going to enjoy my couple of nights here.

After I settled into my room, I left to go to town to pick up some groceries. On my way out, I ran into Megan from Whistler! She and I had totally forgotten that we were going to be down here at the same time and were so exited to run into each other. She gave me some great tips on where to hike tomorrow and told me about a shortcut to get to grocery store.

Megan and I made plans to go to dinner after I got back from the store, and after surveying our somewhat limited options we decided on the Outpost Pub. It was cute little place in the basement of the hotel next door to the hostel. It had lots of mix-matched furniture and a cozy atmosphere, as well as a really friendly staff (including our server, a fellow American). We each got veal schnitzel for dinner and a round of drinks and caught up on each other’s travels. She’s been on the Rocky Mountaineer for the past few days, a pretty fancy tourist train that operates in this area. She’s headed out to the icefields tomorrow on a big tour, and I really hope she enjoys it as much as I did.

After dinner we walked back to the hostel to join the movie night. Turns out no one else had asked about it, so the staff hadn’t started it and we got to choose the movie. We picked The Departed, which I had never seen. I totally understand now why people like it so much.

After the movie, Megan and I both decided to turn in to get some rest before our big days tomorrow. I’m going to hike and she’s going to the icefields, but we’re hoping to meet up again some time in Banff, and maybe even later in the trip as we keep moving east!

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