A Week Out West

This Manitoba couple embarked on a celebratory vacation through Western Canada’s peaks and valleys.

Week Out West - Bench Overlooking Pyramid LakePhoto: Sandy Sinclair
An early morning view of Pyramid Lake at the foot of Pyramid Mountain near the town of Jasper, Alberta.

Heaven on Earth

Having been born and raised in Manitoba, my husband, Rob, and I love our Prairie home but always enjoy the opportunity to travel and explore this great country. The reason for this trip was to celebrate my retirement after 31 years of teaching, which also coincided with our 25th wedding anniversary! What better way to acknowledge these two occasions than with a trip to Jasper National Park? So in late September of 2016, Rob and I packed up our SUV and headed west for a week of fun and adventure. I felt giddy, like a kid playing hooky in the first month of school. I must also admit that I felt a bit disoriented, sort of like a fish out of water, for taking a vacation during what had typically been the busiest time of my life for as long as I can remember. Aside from developing withdrawal symptoms due to being away from the new school year, I was excited at the prospect of having the freedom to embark on a long awaited and much anticipated celebratory vacation.

Week Out West - Maligne CanyonPhoto: Sandy Sinclair
Maligne Canyon in Jasper National Park.

Why we keep coming back to Jasper

This was not my first trip to visit the Canadian Rockies. In the past I have had the privilege of viewing these magnificent mountains from different locations such as Banff, Alberta, as well as Fernie, B.C., and Vancouver. But for some reason, our go-to destination when craving mountain vistas is Jasper, Alberta. We like the laid back vibe of the community and the rustic beauty of the area that surrounds Pine Bungalows Resort, where we stay each time we visit the area.

On this particular trip, we enjoyed many scenic hikes and majestic mountain drives, including visiting Mount Edith Cavell, Medicine Lake, Pyramid Lake, Athabasca Falls and Miette Hot Springs. While at the hot springs, we spent a very relaxing few hours soaking up the warmth of the hottest mineral springs in the Canadian Rockies, while also admiring the fabulous view of the surrounding Fiddle River valley.

Mount RobsonPhoto: Sandy Sinclair
A view of B.C.’s majestic Mount Robson.

A train ride through the Rockies

The absolute highlight of the trip, however, was a Via Rail train tour operated by SunDog Transportation and Tours. A train ride through the Rockies was on both of our bucket lists, so we could not pass up the opportunity! The trip began in Jasper and we would eventually travel approximately three hours west to the historic Dunster, B.C., train station. After spending some time there, our tour bus driver picked us up for the return to Jasper. Travelling by rail offers a unique perspective and provides many spectacular photo ops, most notably of Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. During our trip back to Jasper, the train actually made a brief stop to allow all the shutterbugs on board to capture the perfect shot. Another stop was made during the bus trip back to Jasper, so there was no excuse for not getting at least one good picture of this majestic marvel! The day was clear, the air was fresh and crisp, and the myriad of photographic opportunities did not disappoint.

Maligne Lake Boat HousePhoto: Sandy Sinclair
The Maligne Lake boathouse.

A return visit is in our future

I have taken many photographs of lakes with a mountain backdrop, but I especially like the way the red of the boathouse roof and canoes pops against the grey mountains and water on a cloudy day at Maligne Lake. As I recall, the weather that day was on the cool side and overcast, which often makes for the best photographic opportunities. My husband and I enjoyed a warm bowl of soup and a cup of hot tea as we took in the breathtaking beauty from our vantage point in the lodge’s restaurant. The way in which the majestic mountains and glaciers frame the crystal-clear waters of the lake are quite spellbinding. On a future return visit—yes, there will definitely be one—I would love to spend an afternoon cruising the lake in one of those canoes or taking a hike on the adjacent trail. After all that exercise, I will no doubt need to replenish my energy with a meal and I’ll know just the place to do it. Of course, I’ll have my camera at the ready to take more photos of this magnificent piece of heaven on earth!

Don’t miss this photographic tour of Canada’s western provinces.

Originally Published in Our Canada