During the summer of 2020, I was lucky enough to be invited on a trip to Jasper, AB. Despite living in Alberta my whole life, I hadn’t been to Jasper National Park before. I stayed for three nights, managing to hike three different trails, one per day. On my last full day in Jasper, we reserved spots on the Jasper Skytram. This is a more expensive hiking option, but the vantage point from the top give you a 360° view of the park. In the early months of Covid, we were required to wear masks and have our temperatures checked. Now they require proof of vaccination or a negative covid test within the last 72 hours.
We hiked from the tramway to the summit of Whistler’s Peak. This section of the hike is 3.7 km with 273 meters of elevation. This is a busy section as is it more accessible to a range of abilities. The hike is still steep in spots, so prepare for so cardio, despite the short distance.
We hiked to the summit, took some photos, then continued on the trail towards Indian Ridge. The Indian Ridge hike from the Skytram is 12.7 km with 968 meters elevation. We did not complete the whole trail, so I am not entirely sure of the distance of our hike.
The trail slopes down into an alpine meadow. Though it was hot, there were still puddles and leftover snow in the hollows of this short valley. We tried to navigate as best we could, although we did lose the path at one point. The mud pulled at our boots, making our trek more difficult. We made our way over the first mound, a steady incline over a rocky trail.
About halfway up the second slope, we reached a startlingly steep section. The rocks underfoot shifted. We decided partway up this slope that we weren’t comfortable with the steepness of the trail. For myself, on my third consecutive day of hiking, my legs were sore and I wasn’t sure if my knees could handle a full descent at this angle. Half of our group decided to make our way back to the meadow. Two members had already made it up the slope, and stayed at the top for a while to enjoy the view. However, none of us made it to the trail’s summit.
We descended back to the meadow where we found a large boulder where we could all sit and eat lunch.
The day was hot, with no cloud coverage from the sun. Being at the top of Whistler’s made the air feel about 10 degrees cooler than in the townsite, but the sun was just as harsh. I was rewarded for my failed diligence with brutal sunburns on my calves. Remember to always reapply sunscreen often while hiking! Especially at high altitudes.
We made our way back down from Whistler’s Peak to the Skytram. My knees were in more pain than ibuprofen could mask, so I took the longer switchbacks down the trail, to save myself from the steeper, though more direct trail. We took the tram back down to the ground, and spent the evening cooling off at the lake.
Always remember you have the option to turn around on a trail if you’re uncomfortable! It is far better to be safe than to push beyond your limits. Hiking isn’t a risk free sport, so be kind and take care of yourself too.